Leave it to Dame Helen Mirren to vanquish the polar vortex. The celebrated Brit was in Cambridge Thursday to receive the tiny pudding pot bestowed on a deserving actress each year by Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals, and darn if she didn’t make us feel all warm and cuddly.
The Oscar winner looked entirely unbothered by the deep freeze as she rode in the back of a Bentley convertible, surrounded by cross-dressing Pudding pranksters in the Hasty’s traditional parade down Mass. Ave.
The 68-year-old Mirren, who won the Academy Award in 2006 for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in “The Queen,” got a royal welcome from the crowd. She responded by mimicking the queen’s disinterested wave.
At the roast that followed, Mirren was a great sport even as she was teased about her ample bosom (“Helen has bigger boobs than Dame Judy Dench,” one of the Pudding players announced from the stage) and her penchant for playing monarchs (“Helen is known for her dynamic range”).
But the actress played her part with aplomb. Asked at one point to twerk, Mirren had a moment’s hesitation — “Oh, [expletive],” she muttered — before getting down to it, to the great delight of the audience. Talking to reporters afterward, she admitted it was not her first twerk.
“I’ve tried in my bedroom in front of a mirror, quite unsuccessfully,” she said.
About the Oscars, Mirren said she greatly enjoyed “Gravity” and “American Hustle” but hopes “12 Years a Slave” wins the top prize so it will reach a wider audience. As for her own career, Mirren said it’s true that she has played many queens/empresses, “but I’ve also played a lot of housekeepers and cleaning ladies.” (Is there a role she’d like to play? “Yes, Catherine the Great of Russia.”)
Holding the Hasty’s prized pudding pot, Mirren said it was a high honor. “I was made a Dame of the British empire and I went to Buckingham Palace,” she said. “It didn’t come anywhere close to this.” She then made a peace sign and, like Miley Cyrus, stuck out her tongue. The crowd roared its approval.
Mirren was accompanied Thursday by her husband, “Officer and a Gentleman” director Taylor Hackford. The couple dined Wednesday evening at Rialto at the Charles Hotel, feasting on grilled oysters, slow-roasted Long Island duck, and venison two ways. Recent Woman of the Year winners include Catherine Zeta-Jones, Halle Berry, Anne Hathaway, Claire Danes, and, last year, Marion Cotillard.
Mark Shanahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MarkAShanahan. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MeredithGoldste.