By Drew Mackie
Does Helen Mirren's awesomeness know no limits?
That's a rhetorical question, but allow me to answer it anyway. No. Clearly. Don't even debate it. The 65-year-old stands alongside Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Vanessa Redgrave as one of the most revered actresses working today -- not only in Britain but the world over. One notable difference between Mirren and her esteemed colleagues, however: She's hot. Smokin' hot.
I mean no disrespect to Dames Dench, Smith and Redgrave, but they don't exude the bombshell qualities that allow Mirren to rock a bikini (as she famously did two years ago in British tabloids) or simply wear nothing at all (as she did in New York magazine this past June). I can think of few other actresses aside from Ann-Margaret and Sophia Loren who maintained heightened levels of sexiness for so long.
So what's Helen Mirren's secret?
According to Mirren herself, she's currently defying time by using her Nintendo Wii. Yeah, we were expecting some kooky diet or obscure supplement, too. But no -- just the workout game Wii Fit. This week, Mirren became a spokesperson for the system, telling the Daily Mail, "The Wii is fun, and it's infinitely varied. You can hula, jog, yoga, step, all in one session .... It challenges you, and you do it at home, so nobody need see you in those old yoga pants and torn t-shirt. It's my new best friend."
In a way, it's telling that a 65-year-old can shill for a workout program, especially when most other spokesladies of this general age set are selling exercise videos aimed at older women (like Jane Fonda) or medicine that keeps your bones from crumbling away (Sally Field). And while I can't quite picture Helen Mirren waving a Wii-mote around, I'm sure her doing it looks a lot classier than the tomfoolery that results when I try it.
It may be the Wii that helps Mirren stay in shape, but our appreciation for the actress goes beyond her bodily beauty. For example, the woman has great taste in movie roles. Judi Dench may be James Bond's boss, but I don't think she could pull off either of Mirren's upcoming roles this Fall. In "Red," which opens next week, Mirren plays a retired but eagerly gunslinging special ops agent. (Bonus points for this role: Mirren says she modeled her character on Martha Stewart. Ha.) And later this year, she plays the lead in Julie Taymor's adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest." In fact, Taymor actually changed the gender of the character specifically so Mirren could play the role.
So, how did Mirren become the go-to gal for such kickass roles? No Wii magic here. She's been in the industry for nearly forty years, developing professionally all the while, and turning herself into that rare actress whose appeal only grows over time. In short, much like Sandra Bullock, she gets better (and hotter) with age. Apparently Mirren's "Tempest" costar Russell Brand agrees. When talking to People magazine, Brand listed Mirren's virtues as the following: "Confidence. Potency. Female energy. Roaring estrogen… That's why she can play queens and leaders." Well said, mate.
Helen Mirren should be who today's actresses-of-the-moment look to, provided they also want to have a job when they're 65. To think: We could have an entire generation of video game-playing, 65-year-old hotties taking off their clothes to universal acclaim. I presume Helen would be proud.