Helen Mirren is best known to American mystery buffs from her imported British crime drama Prime Suspect. The 56-year-old actress who plays no-nonsense inspector Jane Tennison tells TV Guide Online she plans to shoot the series's sixth installment "at the end of this year." Meanwhile, Mirren fans wait in suspense to see if the Gosford Park star wins an Oscar for her role in Robert Altman's witty ensemble whodunit.
"I'm in the same category with Maggie Smith and Kate Winslet," marvels the best supporting actress nominee. "I think Americans are very generous with their recognition of British actors, and I hope that we are reciprocally appreciative of their work.
"I just did a play Dance of Death, which ran six months on Broadway and I learned the depth of American generosity and also American courage," Mirren says. "Our play opened just immediately after Sept. 11... and the audiences were extraordinary. They came, they enjoyed it, they gave of their energy, and it gave me a huge respect for Americans."
On a lighter note, we admire Mirren's less-than-glam turn as Gosford's stern, secretive Mrs. Wilson. "I was the very dowdy housekeeper," she chuckles, adding she didn't mind going sans movie-star makeup. "I loved it," Mirren enthuses. "It's liberating not to have to worry about that stuff. Mind you, often you have to sit in the makeup chair for longer when you have to look worse!"
We're doubtful this English rose ever looks as drab as Mrs. Wilson offscreen. Winks Mirren: "Well, I actually do, darling, but nevermind."