After playing royals ancient and modern, a hard-nosed cop and all manner of fantasy females, the Oscar winner has written a memoir, In the Frame. Helen Mirren will now take your questions
What was the most difficult point in your career? Matthias Kruzik, Vienna, Austria
I think probably my mid-30s, which was the one time really when it should have been the best because I was experienced and ready, and the kind of work that I wanted to do just didn't come my way. But you know, you just carry onI did anywayregardless. I would just do whatever work came my way.
Have you considered taking a role in an American TV show? D. Pitts, East Windsor, N.J.
The terrible thing about network TV is that if you're successful, you're not doing anything else for six years. And although success is wonderful, I don't want that kind of success. You know, variety is the spice of my life. I have to keep changing everything. And I wouldn't enjoy being a TV personality.
Do you think it's important for celebrities to contribute their two cents on political, ethical and economic problems? Amanda Cusick, Piedmont, Calif.
I've used my voice to publicize certain issues. I've been involved with Oxfam on the proliferation of the illegal sale of small arms throughout the world, which is causing such, such devastation, and the war in northern Uganda. The only way you can sometimes garner attention is by sending someone like me as a front person.
You were recently in Reno, Nev., filming your new movie, Love Ranch. What's your view on brothels? Audrey Majore, New York City
I think legal prostitution is the way to go, given the awful, horrendous traffic in women and the danger of girls being out on the street, so vulnerable to pimps and johns. In a legal brothel, they're licensed, they're protected, and the johns are protected because they know the girls have to be medically checked every week.
Have you ever had a role in which your views are the opposite of the character you portray? Peg Wimberly, Victorville, calif.
In The Mosquito Coast I played a role only called Mother. She was always in the kitchen and supporting her husband, never arguing. The way I got my head around it was that I had recently played Morgana in Excalibur, who was the male fantasy of the evil, sexually voracious witch woman. So I thought, Cool, I can play the two sides of the coin of male fantasy about women.
Have you had any royal-family feedback after your fascinating performance as the Queen? Jo Wynter, Cooktown, Australia
No. I was invited to dinner by the Queen after I'd done it, and I don't think she would have done that if she'd hated it. I couldn't go, unfortunately.
Do you have any affinity with your father's Russian heritage? Claire Mythen, Dublin, Ireland
I was there not long ago. It's so vast. I know America is vast, but there is a Wal-Mart everywhere in America, whereas in Russia it's vast, and it really changes. When I go to Russia, I realize I look Russian; people come up to me and speak to me in Russian.
What is your favorite vegetable? Thomas Stout, Fair Oaks, calif.
I do love potatoes.
You have a tattoo on your hand. What is it, and why did you get it? Charles Adkins, Aventura, Fla.
The short answer is, I got drunk. I think I write about it in the book. But yes, I got drunk on an Indian reservation in Minnesota. It's a South American Indian sign.
If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go and why? R.D. McClenagan, Greenville, S.C.
I'd find a little green corner of England with a river running through it and a tree to sit under, and I'd just sit there for the afternoon with a book and a pillow.