Dame Helen Mirren: Why I was worried about accepting my damehood

Dame Helen Mirren has said she was worried about accepting the accolade of dame because it would probably put up a barrier.

The 67-year-old actress, who voices petrifying headmistress Dean Hardcastle in upcoming Pixar film Monsters University, said she was concerned that the honour would "set her apart".

She admitted to being scared of clowns, centipedes and her actor superiors when she was younger.


"There were certain actors and actresses who were quite intimidating when I was younger," she said. "They probably didn't mean to be intimidating and maybe people look at me now and think 'Oh, she's so scary' but I really don't want to be or feel like I am like that."

Dame Helen, who currently plays the Queen in The Audience in London, shared the best piece of advice she had ever been given, from her grammar school headmistress.



"The worst thing about fear is fear itself, the thing to fear is fear itself. She was scary but she was also wise."

The Oscar-winning star, who has an impressive string of prestigious awards for her TV, film and stage work, also spoke about facing adversities.

"It's very annoying to go through life watching people who never get judged, who get everything they want without having to work for it," she said "And the rest of us who do have to struggle and fight and get knocked back before we come forward again.


Dame Helen at the Palace in 2003


"I think 99.9% of professional people have had to struggle to get where they are."

Dame Helen, who began her acting career in the 1960s, said she would never stop learning.

"I love working with young actors because you learn the most from them. It's an ongoing process."

Monsters University is out in cinemas on 12 July

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