Helen Mirren knows her way around the Berlin International Film Festival, which this year hosts the out-of-competition world premiere of her latest film, Golda, in which she stars as Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir.
The future Oscar winner visited the festival way back in 1985 when it screened the sci-fi pic 2010: The Year We Made Contact, director Peter Hyams’ sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. In her first big Hollywood production, the British actress, then 38, drew on her heritage — her father had been born in Russia — to play the Russian cosmonaut Tanya Kirbuk, who commands a ship on its way to Jupiter.
She would later admit: “The script was somewhat incomprehensible to me and the role was not the best. The story was, however, prescient in that it foretold the joint America-Russian missions into space that happened after the collapse of Communism.” Nevertheless, she gamely joined in the movie’s promotion at the fest, at one point appearing flanked by two guys dressed in space suits.
Mirren returned to Berlin in 2015 with the film Woman in Gold and had an unfortunate stumble on the red carpet at the movie’s world premiere. But she was on surer footing in 2020, when she was presented with an Honorary Golden Bear for lifetime achievement. “Helen Mirren is a strong personality whose powerful portrayals are always impressive. She surprises us time and again with her interpretation of complex characters — whether it’s Chris in Calendar Girls or Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen, her portrayals are a paradigm of strong women,” said Mariette Rissenbeek, executive director of the Berlinale.
Accepting the ursine-shaped trophy, Mirren joked, “He’s very cute. I think my Oscar is going to fall in love.”