By Scott Huver and Jessica Wedemeyer
Helen Mirren became an unlikely sex symbol in 2008, when she was first snapped flaunting a surprisingly fit figure while frolicking on the beach in a red bikini. But the 67-year-old actress, best known for portraying Queen Elizabeth (I and II!), takes her newfound status in stride.
"I don't look like this in everyday life at all," Mirren demurred while promoting her upcoming Phil Spector biopic at the Television Critics Association winter 2013 press tour in Los Angeles. "I really, really don't! The way that I look in everyday life, I look like that and I go out like that and I don't make a big thing about it. Obviously, when I'm coming to this sort of thing, I clean up a bit."
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While most Hollywood startlets endure a laundry list of diet, exercise and beauty routines to keep themselves looking their absolute best, Dame Mirren, it seems, relies primarily on genetics.
"I don't do a lot of anything," she says. "I think maybe that's the trick, is not to do a lot of anything. I don't do a lot of gym-y stuff, but occasionally I go to the gym. I don't do a lot of dieting, but occasionally I do diet. I've never smoked, actually, and I've never drunk too much."
"I have actually drunk too much, but not consistently," she quickly clarified.
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The Oscar winner attributes her appeal to her happiness with life, which she in turn credits to her work and a very un-Hollywood hobby.
"I think work is an important part of it," says Mirren. "I love to garden. My husband and I, we're starting [a vegetable garden]. I used to do a lot of vegetable gardening when I was in my 30s, and then life took me away from my vegetable garden, but I'm starting up again in Italy."
As for her work, Mirren credits a number of factors for the success she's experienced late in her career -- but most importantly, luck.
"Incredible good luck is an awful lot of it, sadly," she says. "I've got many actress friends of mine who are wonderful actresses who were colleagues of mine when I was in my 20s and 30s and now really find it very difficult to work. So, a lot of it is pure luck. I was very lucky that 'Prime Suspect' came along when it did. I try to work hard and I try to be easy to work with, and I think that helps."
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Getting work certainly isn't a problem for Mirren, who recently wrapped HBO's Phil Spector biopic opposite Al Pacino.
"I finished up with such love for [Al] and such admiration for him," Mirren gushed. "There is nothing that I wouldn't do for Al."
She joked, "I would clean his boots. I really would. He wouldn't want to have his boots cleaned. I think he likes grubby shoes."