Date of Birth
26 July 1945, Chiswick, London, England, UK
Ilyena Lydia Vasilievna Mironoff
5′ 4″ (1.63 m)
Taylor Hackford (31 December 1997 – present)
Mirren was born Helen Lydia Mironoff in Queen Charlotte’s Hospital, Chiswick, West London. Her father, Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov (1913–1980), was of Russian origin, and her mother, Kitty (née Kathleen Alexandrina Eva Matilda Rogers; 1909–1996), was English. Mirren’s paternal grandfather, Colonel Pyotr Vasilievich Mironov, was in the Tsarist Army and fought in the 1904 Russo-Japanese War. He later became a diplomat, and was negotiating an arms deal in Britain, where he and his family were stranded during the Russian Revolution. The former diplomat became a London cab driver to support his family.
His son, Helen Mirren’s father, changed the family name to the Scottish-sounding Mirren in the 1950s and became known as Basil Mirren. He played the viola with the London Philharmonic before World War II, and later drove a cab and was a driving-test examiner, before becoming a civil servant with the Ministry of Transport. Mirren’s mother was from West Ham, East London, and was the 13th of 14 children born to a butcher whose father had been the butcher to Queen Victoria. Mirren considers her upbringing to have been “very anti-monarchist”.
The first house she remembers living in was in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, when she was two or three years old, after the birth of her younger brother, who was named Peter Basil after his grandfather and great-great-grandfather. Mirren was the second of three children, born two years after her older sister Katherine (“Kate”; born 1942). She later lived in Leigh-on-Sea.
Mirren attended St Bernard’s High School for Girls in Southend-on-Sea, where she acted in school productions, and subsequently a teaching college, the New College of Speech and Drama in London, “housed within Anna Pavlova’s old home, Ivy House” on the North End Road – which leads from Golders Green to Hampstead, N. London. At age eighteen, she auditioned for the National Youth Theatre and was accepted. By the time she was 20, she was Cleopatra in the NYT production of Antony and Cleopatra at the Old Vic, which led to her signing with the agent Al Parker