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Bow down to Helen Mirren in ‘The Queen’

If the U.S. ever gets disgusted enough with its current government — no matter which president or political party is in power — and decide that having a monarchy might not be all half bad, there can be no better choice that proclaiming Helen Mirren as Queen of the States.
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

Ever since America kicked out the British following the Revolutionary War, that pretty much ended its chances of having a monarchy.

But if the U.S. ever gets disgusted enough with its current government — no matter which president or political party is in power — and decides that having a monarchy might not be all half bad, there can be no better choice than proclaiming Helen Mirren as Queen of the States.

The woman is about as regal as anyone could get, and her stellar TV and film performances over the past year prove she was born to wear the crown.

In August, Mirren took home her third Emmy — the first for “Prime Suspect 4” in 1996 and second for 1999’s “The Passion of Ayn Rand — for her turn as Queen Elizabeth in HBO’s wonderful telefilm “Elizabeth I,” which, not coincidentally, also won for outstanding miniseries.

And if Elizabeth I’s reign in the late 16th century remains a bit dated for audiences to reflect on Mirren’s skill at creating authenticity based on real-life characters, her role as England’s current Her Royal Highness Elizabeth II in “The Queen” will certainly quell any doubt. Mirren is so good here that if she were to move in to Buckingham Palace and have the queen move out, hardly anyone would be clever enough to know the bloody difference.

In “The Queen,” Mirren’s Elizabeth II is fully aware of her standing in the England’s royal hierarchy. She’s expects those in her presence to bow, curtsy and follow royal procedure when addressing her, yet her Elizabeth is not old-fashioned enough that she can’t take out an SUV and do a little off-road driving in the English countryside.

In director Stephen Frears’ terrific film, Mirren wonderfully re-creates what the actual queen had to endure from both her subjects and the prime minister following the death of beloved Diana, the Princess of Wales, in August 1997.

With both Prince Philip (James Cromwell) and her mom, the Queen Mother (Sylvia Syms) acting as though Diana’s death was more a relief than a national tragedy, Elizabeth tries to balance what the proper protocol would be for a queen when her former daughter-in-law (she had divorced Charles at the time of her death) dies.

Much to the chagrin of the English people, Elizabeth does almost nothing, figuring the mourning would dissipate in days. But both she, Philip and the Queen Mother have greatly underestimated Diana’s affection on the people and by keeping silent and not issuing a statement of deep sorrow, the populace grows weary of her and the monarchy lies in the balance.

Since it’s a bit difficult to sit down with Queen Elizabeth and take a first-hand look at the intricacies of her daily life — does she put milk in her tea, read the morning paper and lie in bed watching the BBC newscasts? — we’ll have to take Mirren’s word for it on how the actual queen goes about her day.

Mirren’s Oscar nomination is a sure thing, considering she’s already an Academy favorite — previously nominated for supporting roles in “The Madness of King George” (1994) and “Gosford Park” (2001) — and a Brit. Two of the five best actress nominees last year were English (Judi Dench and Keira Knightley) and the winner of the supporting category was London native Rachel Weisz.

And judging on her performance in both this film and the HBO movie, voters would be smart to start using HRH as an acronym for Her Royal Helen.

Stuart Levine is a senior editor at Daily Variety. He can be reached at .