The 65-year-old Oscar winner says she was left “mortified” after Sir Michael made a series of comments that would now be deemed sexist.
In the interview in 1975, he quoted a theatre reviewer who had described the actress as “projecting sluttish eroticism” and referred to Mirren’s “equipment”, meaning her voluptuous bust.
Sir Michael, now 70, asked her: “Do you find, in fact, that what could be best described as your equipment, hinders you in that pursuit (acting)?” Dame Helen, then aged 30, fired back: “I’d like you to explain what you mean by my equipment in great detail. Do you mean my fingers? Come on, spit it out.”
In a new interview, she says: “I think I handled it really well. It was the first time I had ever done a talk show, ever,” she said. “I’d only done Shakespeare and I was a serious actress. I was so terribly nervous and I was mortified by the end of it. But when I look back, I see I handled it with humour.”
She added: “At least now young actresses can say ‘**** off’ and still work again.” The star added that sexism was rife in the Seventies. “It was enraging. But it was par for the course to a certain extent.” In his introduction, Sir Michael had said: “Indeed, the point about her is that the critics spend as much time discussing her physical attributes as assessing her acting ability.”
At one point he says: “You are, in quotes, a serious actress.” She countered: “In quotes? What do you mean in quotes? How dare you.
-Elisa Roche, Express