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Helen Mirren backstage at the 2014 Screen Actors Guild Awards

The 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards took place on Jan. 18, 2014, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Here is what this Screen Actors Guild Award winner said backstage in the Screen Actors Guild Awards press room.

Helen Mirren at the 2014 Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles
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Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

("Phil Spector")

Did you expect to win this award?

I so did not expect to win.

You mentioned nominee Elisabeth Moss from “Top of the Lake.” Did you think she was going to win?

Yes. I was sure Elisabeth was going to win. I came in that lovely, comfortable relaxed state. I was sure that I wasn’t going to win. I didn’t have to get up and say anything. I could have a drink. Big mistake.

Elisabeth obviously won the Golden Globe, and fully deserved to, and I was sure that she was going to win again. So I was very surprised.

What is your opinion of Phil Spector?

I came upon this role in a very unexpected way. Bette Midler was originally playing the role. Now, would anyone cast Bette Midler and then think, “If she can’t do it, who should we get? Let’s get Helen Mirren!” Very strange connection.

But anyway, Bette Midler, unfortunately, had to drop out after she had shot for one week already with Al [Pacino], because she had a bad neck. She’d injured herself, and she couldn’t carry on with the pain.

So they called up in a panic. I was on holiday in Italy. And this phone call comes, and it’s David Mamet saying, “Would you like to do a film with Al Pacino?”

And I said, “When? Yes, I’d love to. When?” And they said, “Starting tomorrow. Can you get on a plane tomorrow?”

It was one of those moments when I had to leave my holiday and the lovely time I was having, and gird up my loins and face something that was going to be quite challenging for me and working with Al Pacino. So anyway, I lucked into this role. And obviously, it’s enormously gratifying to be here.

Do you plan to do any more TV projects, particularly with HBO?

All of us actors want to work with Showtime and HBO, the two great cable channels. Of course, FX as well. Netflix nowadays is very exciting now, the work that Netflix is doing. The whole landscape of drama on film is changing so radically.

I’m much older now, but at least I’m still working at a time when things are changing. I think it’s incredibly exciting. People can watch the kind of television they want to watch, when they want to watch it. It’s a wonderful, exciting moment in television drama and film drama.

Your husband, Taylor Hackford, has been involved in the music business for various projects. Did he know Phil Spector?

He did.

And what revelations about the music industry did you get from doing this “Phil Spector” movie?

I don’t really know or understand the music industry. I know a little from my husband. My stepson works in the music industry. So I know a little from them. Obviously, again, that industry has changed radically. And Phil Spector was very much of an era in that music industry, so incredibly influential, in terms of pure music.

My husband did work with him many years ago and had some quite fantastic Phil Spector-type stories to tell, which he shared with me. But I never met him myself. I would have been terrified to meet him, in all honesty.

For more info: Screen Actors Guild Awards website


Screen Actors Guild Award interviews

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