Helen Mirren shoots back at 'horrible' sexist questions in an unearthed '70s interview

Helen mirrenScreengrabHelen Mirren.

In an interview with The Guardian earlier this year, Helen Mirren discussed how the 1970s were a grotesquely sexist time in acting and elsewhere, calling the decade “horrible” and “worse than the 
1940s or ’50s.”
Mirren alluded to an appearance she made on Michael Parkinson’s talk show in 1975 as one personal example of the decade’s sexism, and a video of the old interview has surfaced recently. 

When Parkinson introduced Mirren, 30, on his show, he listed off a series of comments from theatre critics about her body, including a quotation about how Mirren was “especially telling in projecting sluttish eroticism.”

Mirren countered the distasteful introduction by walking to her chair and joking, “That was sluttishly erotic for you.”

But Parkinson’s sexist remarks continued. 

At one point, the host stumbled through a question about whether Mirren thought her body held her back from being a “serious actress.”

“Because serious actresses can’t have big bosoms, is that what you mean?” Mirren shot back. “What a crummy performance if people are obsessed with the size of your bosom or anything else.”

When Parkinson later asked Mirren about the men who interested her at the Royal Shakespeare Company where she worked, Mirren responded, “I strongly dislike men who look another way, like men in very nicely cut suits,” while looking at Parkinson, who was wearing a suit. 

Though the interview did cover topics other than overly direct questions about Mirren’s body and love interests, Parkinson ended the discussion by asking Mirren about her nude scenes.

“It’s a male chauvinist kind of…” Mirren said, beginning to describe the process of men directing nude scenes, before quipping to Parkinson, “You’ve heard that phrase before, I’m sure.”

Watch the interview below: 

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