Dame Helen Mirren has said that if she had children, the first words she would have taught a daughter would be ‘f*** off’ – after she endured years of sexism during her early career.
In an interview with Mail on Sunday Event magazine, the 67-year-old Oscar-winning actress gives a candid account of how women were mistreated in the entertainment industry and how disgraced Jimmy Savile ‘could get away with anything’ during his time at the BBC.
She says: ‘If I’d had children and had a girl, the first words I would have taught her would have been “f*** off” because we weren’t brought up ever to say that to anyone, were we? And it’s quite valuable to have the courage and the confidence to say, “No, f*** off, leave me alone, thank you very much.” You see, I couldn’t help saying “Thank you very much”, I just couldn’t help myself.’
Dame Helen – whose credits range from her role in The Queen in 2006, which earned her a Bafta and an Academy Award, to policewoman DI Jane Tennison in the TV crime drama Prime Suspect – says actresses have always had to work harder to be accepted.
She adds: ‘The 60s were not great, the 70s were really crap; the 60s and 70s were pretty ghastly, I think. And into the 80s, as an actress, you would be the only female on set, apart from the continuity person, who was always a woman, and maybe your own personal wardrobe person.
'Otherwise it was completely male, and a particular kind of testosteroney male that was quite hard to deal with. You had to have a sense of humor, put your head down, you were never going to be one of the boys, if you know what I mean.’
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