Helen Mirren is one of the most acclaimed and decorated actresses of her generation. She has won numerous awards, including an Oscar, four Emmys, and a Tony over her distinguished career on stage, TV and film.
However, despite her immense talent and critical success, Mirren has also attracted a fair share of detractors and haters over the years. There are several reasons why some people dislike or criticize Helen Mirren:
Her Bluntness and Outspokenness
One of the main reasons Mirren has rubbed some people the wrong way is her reputation for being very direct, blunt and outspoken. She has made controversial comments criticizing certain groups or individuals, like saying that she wanted to “kill George Bush” because of the Iraq War.
Mirren has also been very open about gender, sexuality and her liberal politics, which has polarized audiences. Her unfiltered nature can come across as arrogant or dismissive to more conservative viewers.
Perceived Lack of Modesty
Related to her bluntness, Mirren has been accused of being egotistical or lacking modesty at times. For instance, she once infamously said “I do think I’m incredibly sexy.”
While she was partly joking, some saw the comment as an example of Mirren having an inflated sense of self and publicly congratulating her own attractiveness. This perception of vanity rubs her detractors the wrong way.
Background and Privileged Upbringing
Another source of dislike for Mirren stems from her privileged upbringing in England. Her father was a Russian aristocrat and her mother was an upper class Englishwoman. Mirren was educated at posh private schools as a child.
Some see her as an elitist who benefited from a wealthy background, making it easier for her to succeed in the arts and look down on others. Her polished accent only heightens this view among critics.
Her Age and Views on Beauty
As an older actress in her 70s, Mirren has faced criticism from certain people who feel she is too old to take on sexually provocative roles or project a conventionally attractive image.
Her willingness to do nude scenes and photo shoots at her age angers critics who feel she should act more modestly “appropriate for her age.” In general, Mirren’s perspective that women can be beautiful and alluring at any age clashes with traditional expectations.
Perceived Political Views
Mirren’s left-leaning political views and support of causes like gun control, environmentalism and Me Too have made her a polarizing figure for conservative audiences.
Her feminist perspective and calling out of sexual misconduct in the film industry has drawn particular ire and accusations of being too radical from anti-feminist groups. Her outspokenness on issues rubs some people the wrong way.
Her Award Recognition
For some people in the film industry or audience members, Mirren’s extensive awards recognition also sparks jealousy and oversaturation – a feeling she has been excessively lauded.
After her 2006 Oscar win for The Queen, there was a sense among some groups that Mirren received awards out of reverence for her career rather than the singular performance. Her ubiquity as an acclaimed, decorated actress evokes dislike among those tired of seeing her honored.
Her Acting Style and Filmography
While Mirren is acclaimed for her acting abilities, some find her style to be overacted and lacking nuance at times. Her background in theatrical performance often shows through in a somewhat overblown fashion critics claim.
Additionally, Mirren’s filmography contains several poorly reviewed projects that detractors see as examples of her chasing fame or a paycheck rather than showing discretion.
Films like 2010’s Love Ranch, were panned by critics but still starred Mirren, drawing ire from fans who wanted to see her in more acclaimed work.
Common Accusations Leveled Against Mirren
Throughout her long career, Helen Mirren has faced an array of critiques and accusations around her personality and work. Here are some of the most prominent:
She’s arrogant and egotistical
As mentioned, Mirren’s blunt speeches and willingness to call out others strikes some as arrogant or vain. Her quip about her own sexiness particularly fed that narrative.
She’s a hypocrite
Critics highlight Mirren’s membership in the royal order of chivalry as clashing with her outspoken feminism and political views. They see her accepting such an honor as hypocritical.
She’s pretentious and elitist
From her posh accent to her dignified demeanor, detractors paint Mirren as an elitist theater snob looking down on others. Her privileged background only fuels this common critique.
She’s too radical and outspoken
Mirren’s forceful opinions on issues like Me Too, gun control and politics anger more conservative groups who feel she should tone down her rhetoric. To them, Mirren is too unilateral and outspoken.
She’s overrated as an actress
Some in film and theater circles begrudge Mirren’s awards recognition, arguing she’s been excessively lauded compared to her talents. They see her as generally acclaimed but overrated.
She’s over the hill and lacking self-awareness
Critics who feel Mirren should act more modestly given her age accuse her of lacking self-awareness and trying too hard to seem sexy or provocative as a senior.
She sold out for fame and money
Selecting films like 2010’s Love Ranch that were panned by critics drew accusations Mirren was chasing fame and paychecks rather than respecting her craft.
She’s too political and preachy
Mirren’s willingness to use her platform to advocate feminist and liberal views strikes some as being too political or preachy. They want her to be less outspoken.
Key Moments That Sparked Backlash
Mirren has made headlines throughout her career for controversial or provocative choices that sparked significant criticism:
2007 Comment That She “Wanted to Kill” George Bush
In a 2007 newspaper interview, Mirren drew outrage when she said she wanted to “shower every day to wash the George Bush off me” because of her anger about the Iraq War. Critics blasted the comment as irresponsible.
2010 Photo Shoot for New York Magazine at Age 65
Mirren posed nude for a provocative New York Magazine spread in 2010 at age 65. Many criticized the racy shoot as unbecoming of an older actress while others saw it as empowering. But it certainly generated backlash.
2016 Oscar Acceptance Speech Critisizing Hollywood Ageism and Sexism
In her 2016 Oscar speech for Trumbo, Mirren called out Hollywood’s ongoing issues with gender and age discrimination. While largely praised, some in the industry resented her public criticism of the biases female and older actors face.
2018 Claim That Women Experience More Sexual Pleasure As They Age
In a 2018 interview, Mirren drew polarized reactions for saying women experience more sexual pleasure when older because they are more confident in asking for what they want. Some saw the comment as taboo while others agreed.
2022 Statement That Will Smith Shouldn’t Have Been Banned from the Oscars
When Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars then received a 10 year ban, Mirren came to his defense saying he shouldn’t have been banned. But supporters of Rock widely criticized Mirren’s take.
How Mirren Has Responded to Her Critics
When faced with backlash over her blunt views or provocative choices, Mirren has generally doubled down and asserted her right to speak freely. She has routinely criticized outrage culture and stood by her opinions. A few key quotes illustrate her unapologetic stance:
“I never willingly offend people, but sometimes just by speaking your mind, you know, you can’t always avoid it.”
“I don’t let criticism or insults get to me – I just push them out of my consciousness.”
“Look, I’m an old sinner. I haven’t always behaved well or appropriately or responsibly. I don’t think any of us have.”
“I am what I am and I don’t think I’m unbelievably wonderful or I don’t think everything I do or say is great or perfect and I also am not always an idiot. I’m a human being.”
Conclusion: A Divisive Figure Worth Understanding
Helen Mirren is undoubtedly an accomplished, decorated actress whose work will be remembered. But she has also long been a divisive cultural figure, accruing her share of critics and backlash for her bluntness, provocative choices and outspoken politics.
Yet Mirren’s tendency to unapologetically stand her ground in the face of outrage is arguably admirable. While no public figure will be universally beloved, examining why Mirren has inspired dislike can illuminate important issues around women in arts, allowable speech, and gender expectations.
Mirren herself would likely encourage open debate and dialogue around her most controversial moments, so that even those who disagree with her can better understand the acclaimed actress.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dislike for Helen Mirren
Why do some feminists dislike Helen Mirren?
Some feminists take issue with Mirren for accepting a damehood from the British royal family despite critiquing sexism in society. They see this as hypocritical. Others believe she overly sexualizes herself.
What did Helen Mirren say about George Bush that was so controversial?
In a 2007 interview Mirren said she wanted to “kill George Bush” for the Iraq War and that she felt she needed to shower daily to “wash him off her.” Many saw the provocative quote as irresponsible.
What Oscar acceptance speech sparked backlash?
In Mirren’s 2016 Oscar speech for Trumbo she called out Hollywood for ongoing issues with sexism and ageism. While largely praised, some in the industry resented her public criticism.
Why did Mirren’s defense of Will Smith draw criticism?
When Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars, Mirren defended him against the 10 year ban he received. Supporters of Rock saw Mirren’s take as wildly inappropriate.
How has Mirren responded to accusations she is arrogant?
While insisting she doesn’t aim to offend, Mirren has stood by her right to speak out. She pushes aside insults and notes everyone makes mistakes, refusing to overly self-criticize for unpopular opinions.
Why do some dislike Mirren’s willingness to do sexually provocative work?
Critics argue Mirren acting in sexualized films, photo shoots etc. as an older woman clashes with expectations for dignified behavior from mature actresses. But Mirren sees no issue with it.
How has privilege impacted views on Mirren?
Mirren’s elite upbringing fuels criticism she is elitist and benefits from privilege. Her posh accent only further leads some to see her as an out of touch aristocrat.
What are some poorly reviewed Mirren films cited by critics?
Films like 2010’s Love Ranch drew particular criticism for Mirren working on critically panned projects deemed beneath her talents. Some saw it as chasing fame and money.
How does Mirren’s stage background impact views on her acting?
Mirren’s theatrical background leads some to critique her acting style as overly dramatic and overblown. Her stage origins are still evident.