My Crush on Helen Mirren Only Got Stronger After Meeting Her

West Roxbury resident rubs shoulders with Hollywood royalty.

Every once in a while I get to hang out with the “beautiful people” – the actors and directors and various other filmmakers who churn out Hollywood entertainment.

They don’t do it for fun; they do it to promote their new movies, during two- or three- day events called junkets. My job is to interview them, then produce a puff piece in advance of the movie’s release that’s supposed to get people interested in seeing it, no matter what the critics say.

My most recent junkets were in Los Angeles for the films “Arthur” and “Source Code.” Here are a few highlights:

I’m sitting in the lounge at the Four Seasons, sipping a Manhattan, reading about “Source Code,” which stars Jake Gyllenhaal, when Jake Gyllenhaal walks by with a stunningly beautiful woman at his side. Weird moment, because I couldn’t figure out who to look at: the beauty or the star.

Ten minutes later, Robert Duvall sauntered in and sat down, as, I was later told, he does almost every weekend.

On another day there was more than just star gazing. I watched “Arthur,” took part in an interview session with Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, and others from the film, then headed back toward my hotel room. I got on the elevator, and Mirren walked on right after me. Truth be told, I was a bit star struck, having had a crush on her since 1973. But I immediately built up my nerve.

“Excuse me, Miss Mirren,” I said. “I thought you’d like to know I recently hosted a screening of ‘O Lucky Man!’ at my home” – referring to the 1973 movie she was in that started that crush.

“Oh, that was a wonderful film,” she said, smiling, apparently surprised that anyone remembered it. “It was so far ahead of its time, and still stands up. Well, maybe except for the outfits.”

We spoke about it from the 15th floor down to the first. She was gracious, engaging and, at 65, looking great. And my crush is stronger than ever.

*Weirdest quote of the junket – Russell Brand, talking about a scene in “Arthur” where he got to put on the actual Batman outfit George Clooney wore in “Batman & Robin” “I enjoyed wearing the suit because it had Clooney musk in it. It had the aroma, the pheromones of George Clooney, and I like to think that I may have absorbed them.”

Ed Symkus is a longtime West Roxbury resident and a freelance writer who covers the film industry.

Anna Rubin April 11, 2011 at 02:19 PM
Great story! I once passed Woody Allen in NYC, but have never had a crush on him. ;-)
David Ertischek April 11, 2011 at 03:49 PM
I met Jane Goodall a couple of years ago and I had a crush on her from that day on. She started her lecture with making chimpanzee noises - she had me at "Oooooo ooooooo."
Doug Cullison April 11, 2011 at 10:11 PM
I recently encountered Helen at the Arclight in Hollywood at a special Q&A showing of "The Tempest." I didn't have the nerve to ask for her autograph, thinking it was not the right time. She was waiting in the entryway to be introduced to the audience and I walked less than 3 feet by. I had broght an original program from her first stage production of "Anthony & Cleopatra" with the NYT. She hasn't likely seen one in a while. Maybe another time!


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