Helen Mirren |  actress life

Helen Mirren | actress life

Les producteurs de The Duke ont fait parvenir leur scénario à Helen Mirren sans trop y croire, persuadés que l’actrice n’accepterait pas de jouer une femme aussi « anonyme », épouse du protagoniste de l’histoire, interprété par Jim Broadbent. La vénérable actrice a pourtant adoré chaque instant de cette aventure, d’autant qu’elle a été la dernière du cinéaste Roger Michell. Entretien.

Publié hier à 7h00

Marc-André Lussier

Marc-André Lussier
La Presse

En 1961, en Angleterre, un jeune homme est parti de Newcastle pour se rendre à la National Gallery de Londres. Son but ? Subtiliser l’une des nouvelles acquisitions du célèbre musée, un portrait du duc de Wellington par le peintre Francisco Goya, pour ensuite le rendre et toucher une éventuelle somme en récompense. Son plan a fonctionné. Mais c’est son père, Kempton Bunton, un homme de 60 ans engagé dans de multiples causes sociales, qui a pris la faute sur les épaules. Et eu un procès quatre ans plus tard.


Helen Mirren et Jim Broadbent sont les têtes d’affiche de The Duke (Le duc), un film réalisé par Roger Michell.

Vous n’avez jamais entendu parler de cette affaire qui a véritablement eu lieu ? Rassurez-vous, Helen Mirren non plus. « Quand j’ai lu le scénario [écrit par Richard Bean et Clive Coleman]I told myself that they had undoubtedly exaggerated, confides the actress during a videoconference interview granted to Press. But they also sent me documentation and that’s when I realized this story was genuine. I don’t know why it escaped me at that moment. I was still a teenager! »

It’s not a contravention at all

It should be noted, however, that although the case made headlines in the 1960s, the full details of this story were not revealed until 50 years later. To give Jim Broadbent the answer, the producers of The Duke He thought quickly of Helen Mirren, who, however, was sent the script for the film without really believing it. It was hard for them to see how an actress of this caliber, accustomed to big roles and supernatural characters, could agree to lend her features to a modest working-class woman, wounded from within by the accidental death of her husband. .daughter

“However, I loved playing Dorothy! “, insists the one who won an Oscar thanks to The Queen surprised by this misperception. “I remember that at that time I had clearly indicated that in case of a schedule conflict with another project, that one had priority. I liked this mix between the tragedy that this woman carries within her and the way she leads her life. I liked her calm strength, the way she supports her husband, even though she makes him live impossible moments. In fact, it is a very human story. »

He also rejects the notion of misuse in evoking a character who, while more anonymous, is no less dramatically rich. “An actress’s life is made up of characters from all kinds of backgrounds,” she explains.


Even if the producers thought otherwise, Helen Mirren didn’t feel like a misfit at all. The Duke (The Duke), a film directed by Roger Michell.

My pleasure has always been to find the humanity of a character, regardless of their nature. It would be very difficult for me to play someone in whom I couldn’t find the human being inside.

Helen Mirren

This opportunity to revive Dorothy Bunton, for whom there is no documentation, is also a form of homage to these women of 60 years ago.

“These strong, working-class women went through war in their youth. They drew from him a very particular strength of character. Obviously I relied on the instructions in the script to build the character, but researching the women of that time and the environment in which they lived, I came across a photo that inspired me a lot. It showed a working-class woman in her apron walking, very firmly and stubbornly, down an alley between two back houses. I have often been inspired by portraits to build a character. It is very useful. »

Tribute to a deceased filmmaker

The Duke, filmed in 2019, also marks the first collaboration between the actress and director Roger Michell. Great theater director, director whose greatest success in cinema is still the romantic comedy. notting hillalong with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, Mr. Michell passed away last year, at the age of 65.


Within The Duke (The Duke), Helen Mirren plays a British working-class woman in the early 1960s.

“His death devastated me in many ways,” says Helen Mirren. I first saw the film with him at the Telluride festival two years ago. The reception of those attending the festival was magnificent. Roger was probably on top of his game and I think The Duke it shows it well. Lightness, finesse, tone, everything is there, including the emotion of the story. It really is a great achievement. We have lost a great British filmmaker. »

The Duke (The Duke in French version) will be screened on August 5 exclusively at the Le Tapis Rouge cinema in Trois-Rivières. It will be released on Amazon Prime Video on August 11.


Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent headlines The Duke (The Duke), by RogerMichelle.

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