Ms. Mirren, I hear you dislike female journalists.
Only from England.
Why do you dislike them?
Because they’re tricky.
In what way?
It’s not just female journalists from Britain, it’s all journalists from Britain. Because I’m a woman, I tend to trust women more. I imagine that women are not going to be like the archetypal British journalist and I forget that they are. So I guess in a sense it’s my own stupidity really. But the British press is not very nice.
When you tell intimate stories from your past they twist what you say?
They’ll take one thing and put it up as a headline. They’ll take it from anything. I did a thing where I was doing the Hollywood foreign press, you know, where there’s a room full of journalists from everywhere. I can’t remember what it was I said – it wasn’t anything particularly important – but the next day I see it as the headline in a British newspaper.
And of course it is out of context.
It’s put out as if I’d done an interview with just this journalist, as if I’d sat down with him in a room and given him an exclusive interview. They cheat all the time. You say that there’s an embargo on this, they’ll put it out. One is wary is all I’m saying.
What is an interview to you? Is it just a promotional duty or do you actually enjoy it?
(Laughs) Yeah… It depends who you’re talking to. Some people ask really interesting questions and they make you think about your work, and sometimes yourself, in a new way. They make you articulate things that maybe you’ve never articulated before. They make you realize things that you maybe haven’t realized before about yourself or a project or the way you work. A lot of it is just hard labor in the mines of marketing, a lot of it is, but it’s an incredibly important tool.
It is almost a necessity?
It’s getting more important as time goes on, especially with the smaller independent films. We’re incredibly grateful that you guys are prepared to give the time to us, you know. We’re very grateful.
Other people of your caliber often consider it a big pain.
(Laughs) It’s so important for people to know that a small movie is out there. Now, Transformers 2 or Spiderman 10 have enormous marketing budgets. They can buy up posters and newspapers and TV ads – other movies can’t do that.
Smaller films require more blood and sweat?
The only way that we can let people know that these smaller films exist in the cinema is thanks to the press.
I interviewed you once when you had a bad back problem, but you still made it through the publicity day without complaining.
Well from my perspective, a film costs a lot of money. You could build three hospitals with the cost of one film and I take that very seriously. I take the responsibility of being a person involved in a piece of that product. The only way to be decent about it is to make that money back so at least you don’t feel that money is wasted.
Especially when it’s a really expensive film…
If it’s cost a hundred million dollars and that money is completely wasted – it never even makes its money back – that would be so mortifying to me. What a waste of money. Better to put it into a hospital. Do you see what I’m saying?
So I feel it’s my responsibility to help the investors – and the investors are often you and me. We don’t realize it, but it’s our pension funds. Through that bank or company that’s investing in this hedge fund, that is investing in the film. So I feel a fiscal responsibility to help the investors.
Even with a back problem.
Even with a back problem. I hope the investors make their money back. I think it’s important.
Does it tire you that the questions are always the same?
Yes, but you get used to that. It just forces you to think of new answers.
Let’s try this one: how do you approach your characters these days?
I just do what is on the page. I’m of the Gérard Depardieu school of acting, which is (with French accent): ‘If it’s on the page, I act it.’ (Laughs)