In early 2018, British actress Helen Mirren will be teaching the craft of acting in an online Masterclass.

Mirren is one of the few performers to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting. That is, she earned an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen; a Tony Award for her performance in The Audience; and four Emmy Awards. Now 72 years of age, Mirren’s career is both prolific and international.

The elegant actress is known for her versatility and powerful performances. As a child, Helen acted in school productions, and at the age of 18, she auditioned for the National Youth Theatre and was accepted. It wasn’t long before she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company where she was fortunate enough to be mentored by the classical actor and founding member of the RSC, Ian Richardson. “I had the immense good fortune to work with an actor that was so generous at sharing his craft. He became a mentor to me, he helped me believe in myself,” she said. Helen then branched out into film in her early 20’s.

In her Masterclass, Mirren shares several aspects of her process. “Never act in front of a mirror,” she asserts. “You are doing the exact opposite of what acting is about. Acting is all about what’s happening within you. It doesn’t matter what’s happening on your face.” Mirren emphasizes the collaborative aspect of acting and gives much credit to crew members, like costume designers, when it comes to creating a character. And she discusses two basic approaches she uses while preparing for a role. First, she masters the technique, or the craft, of acting; then she allows her imagination to take charge, which she describes as the art of acting.

“I remember this feeling so well. And many of you will feel it. When suddenly, you’re in control of it … a moment where your technique is so deep within you, that gives you your freedom then to invent, to improvise, to act,” Mirren says.

She has also said, “I’ve always found as an actress that the best thing to do in film or TV or theater is just to lose yourself in it. Think of the story, the character, the worlds we’re in, and forget everything else.”

Mirren has played the part of a queen a total of six times, and her characters have often been described as “strong.” But this description rubs her the wrong way. “I don’t like the word ‘strong,’ because a strong character is never an interesting character. A character is made interesting by their vulnerabilities and their weaknesses,” she insists.

Topics covered in Mirren’s Masterclass include:

  • Researching characters
  • Breaking Down Scripts
  • Creating Characters through Hair and Makeup
  • Creating Characters through Costume
  • Characterizing Sets
  • Camera Technique
  • Performing Shakespeare
  • Collaborating with Writers and Directors

Those who are interested in the class can pre-enroll now. The cost is $90 and offers over 25 lessons. Mirren’s Masterclass is an immersive online experience that includes pre-recorded videos that can be watched at any time.

 

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