Helen Mirren | actress life

Les producteurs de The Duke ont fait parvenir leur scénario à Helen Mirren sans trop y croire, persuadés que l’actrice n’accepterait pas de jouer une femme aussi « anonyme », épouse du protagoniste de l’histoire, interprété par Jim Broadbent. La vénérable actrice a pourtant adoré chaque instant de cette aventure, d’autant qu’elle a été la dernière du cinéaste Roger Michell. Entretien.

Publié à 7h00

Marc-André Lussier

Marc-André Lussier
La Presse

En 1961, en Angleterre, un jeune homme est parti de Newcastle pour se rendre à la National Gallery de Londres. Son but ? Subtiliser l’une des nouvelles acquisitions du célèbre musée, un portrait du duc de Wellington par le peintre Francisco Goya, pour ensuite le rendre et toucher une éventuelle somme en récompense. Son plan a fonctionné. Mais c’est son père, Kempton Bunton, un homme de 60 ans engagé dans de multiples causes sociales, qui a pris la faute sur les épaules. Et eu un procès quatre ans plus tard.


Helen Mirren et Jim Broadbent sont les têtes d’affiche de The Duke (Le duc), un film réalisé par Roger Michell.

Vous n’avez jamais entendu parler de cette affaire qui a véritablement eu lieu ? Rassurez-vous, Helen Mirren non plus. « Quand j’ai lu le scénario [écrit par Richard Bean et Clive Coleman]I told myself that she had undoubtedly exaggerated, the actress confided in an interview during a video conference The press. But documents were also sent to me, and that’s when I realized that this story was real. I don’t know why she escaped me back then. I was just a teenager! »

No counter use at all

However, it should be noted that although the case made headlines in the 1960s, the full details of this story were not revealed until 50 years later. To give the answer to Jim Broadbent, the producer of The Duke quickly thought of Helen Mirren, to whom they sent the script for the film, without really believing it. They couldn’t understand how an actress of this caliber, accustomed to big roles and larger-than-life characters, could agree to lend her features to a humble, working-class woman heartbroken by the accidental death of her husband. Daughter.

“But I loved playing Dorothy! ” emphasizes the one who won an Oscar thanks to him The Queen surprised by this misperception. “I remember making it clear at the time that if there was a scheduling conflict with another project, that one had priority. I loved the mix of the tragedy this woman carries and the way she leads her life. I liked her quiet strength, her way of supporting her husband even when he lets him live through impossible times. In fact, it’s a very human story. »

She also dismisses the notion of abuse when it comes time to summon a character who, while more anonymous, is no less dramatically rich. “An actress’ life is made up of characters from all sorts of backgrounds,” she explains.


Although the producers thought otherwise, Helen Mirren didn’t feel like an outsider at all The Duke (The Duke), a film directed by Roger Michell.

My pleasure has always been finding the humanity in a character, regardless of their nature. It would be very difficult for me to play someone who I couldn’t find the human in.

Helen Mirren

This opportunity to bring the undocumented Dorothy Bunton back to life also pays homage to those women 60 years ago.

“These strong working-class women fought the war when they were young. They drew a very special strength of character from it. I obviously relied on the script to build the character, but as I researched the women of the time and the environments they lived in, I came across a photo that really inspired me. It showed a working-class woman, wearing her apron, walking very confidently and persistently down an alley between the backs of two houses. I have often drawn inspiration from portraits to build a character. It’s very useful. »

Homage to a deceased filmmaker

The Duke, filmed in 2019, also marks the first collaboration between the actress and director Roger Michell. Great theater director, director whose greatest success in cinema remains the romantic comedy notting hillAlong with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, Mr. Michell passed away last year at the age of 65.


in the The Duke (The Duke) Helen Mirren plays a British working-class woman of the early 1960s.

“His death shook me in so many ways,” says Helen Mirren. I first saw the film with him at the Telluride Festival two years ago. The reception of the festival-goers was great. Roger was probably at the top of his game and I think The Duke shows it well. Lightness, finesse, tone, everything is there, including the emotion of the story. It really is a great achievement. We have lost a great British filmmaker. »

The Duke (The Duke in French version) will be screened exclusively at Le Tapis Rouge cinema in Trois-Rivières on August 5th. It will be released on August 11th on Amazon Prime Video.


Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent headlined it The Duke (The Duke), by Roger Michelle.

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