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Helen Mirren reacts to viral clip of her shutting down sexist comments in 1975

"The '70s were a dreadful time for women."
/ Source: TODAY

Helen Mirren has always been graceful under pressure, and she knows how to hold her own when an interview gets a bit heated.

Case in point? The actor had the perfect response when a journalist once asked her a question about her breasts early on in her career.

On Wednesday, the 75-year-old chatted with TODAY's Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie and reflected on that moment when Hoda told her she was shocked at how the journalist had spoken to her.

"Helen, I was enraged. I was so angry at your interviewer. I almost wanted to pop him in the nose," the TODAY co-anchor said.

The interview took place in 1975 between Mirren and broadcaster Michael Parkinson. During their chat, Parkinson posed the following question to the actor: "Do you find that your figure, your physical attributes which people have always gone on about, hinder you in your pursuit of the ambition of being a successful actress?"

Helen Mirren in 1975 at age 30 (left) and today at age 75.TODAY

Mirren pointed to her chest while Parkinson finished up his question and came back with a classy and sassy response.

"Because serious actresses can't have big bosoms, is that what you mean?" she said and gave him a glaring look.

The journalist attempted to clarify his question at this point and said, "Well, I think that they might sort of detract from the performance if you know what i mean."

But Mirren wasn't ready to back down.

"Really? I can't think that can necessarily be true. I would hope that the performance in the play and the living relationship between all the people onstage and all the people in the audience overcomes such boring questions," she said.

Savannah was impressed with how the actor stayed composed under pressure and said, "Boom!" when the clip ended.

"Did you punch him after? What happened?" Hoda asked.

"No, what happened after was that I got the blame for being sort of bolshy and argumentative. I was the one who was criticized, not him, because you know as we say, 'Different times,'" she said.

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The old interview clip went viral a few years ago, and Mirren told Hoda and Savannah that she's happy that times have changed a lot in the last several decades.

"When you look at the landscape of movies nowadays, it's so different. I think the '70s were a dreadful time for women in general, for actresses in particular — the '70s and then into the '80s," she said. "And really, late '90s was when it started changing, and the landscape is completely different now and so exciting, so much more interesting."