We Quizzed Helen Mirren on Her Most Famous Lines — and She Only Missed One

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Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

“That terror of learning lines has never left me,” Helen Mirren said onstage at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall Monday night. “As Julie [Taymor] mentioned tonight, I did ask for a teleprompter on set of The Tempest!”

Mirren was the honoree at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s 45th Chaplin Award Gala, where she was feted with speeches from Vin Diesel, Robert De Niro, Julie Taymor, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jeremy Irons, and Mirren’s husband Taylor Hackford. Diesel ignored the teleprompter and recalled their conversation about her nabbing a role Fate of the Furious. According to Diesel, Mirren stomped up to him at a party and said, “Get your act together, Vin! Just get it together! I’ve been wanting to be in Fast and Furious forever! You’re the producer, make it happen!” Diesel added, “Just by her acknowledging you, she makes you feel validated.”

At the evening’s cocktail reception, Vulture asked if we could quiz the dame on a handful of her most famous lines. “My brain’s like a sieve, I probably won’t remember any of them!” Mirren said, ultimately relenting. She nailed four out of five — lines from The Last Station, Calendar Girls, RED, and of course The Queen — only missing a line from Fate of the Furious. Her character Magdalene Shaw’s line was: “He’s got this thing, it can see everything. It’s called the Devil’s Bumhole or something.” When Vulture reminded her, Mirren laughed. “That was my line, I should’ve remembered it! I thought of that line. [Fast 8] was just so fun. I had two scenes: one with Vin, who’s here tonight. He’s fantastic. I had one more with Jason [Statham]. These two icons of action movies! I couldn’t believe my good luck. We were shooting in a very funky downtown Atlanta bar for the second scene. It was fabulously sleazy. I was pissed off that I didn’t get to drive. Next time!”

We Quizzed Helen Mirren on Her Most Famous Lines