The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

How Elena Mironova became Helen Mirren, and why Oscar-winning actress yearns for Russia


Source: Culturology

At birth, she was named Lena - Elena Vasilievna Mironova. Now the whole world knows her under the name of Helen Mirren. The owner of an Oscar and two Golden Globes, the heroine of many films, the Lady Commander of the British Empire, in the distant past, her grandfather affectionately called Alyonushka.

Photo: Shutterstock

Helen Mirren's father was a descendant of Russian aristocrats, tells Culturology. The great-grandfather of the actress, Vasily Petrovich Mironov, was a prominent public figure, a military man, and the chairman of the Gzhat district council. His wife Lydia Andreevna was the daughter of Count Kamensky, whose family belonged to the village of Kuryanovo in the Smolensk province near Gzhatsky (now the city of Gagarin). Grandfather, Peter V. Mironov, was a member of the Russian-Japanese war, and then became a diplomat and participated in negotiations with Britain.

When the Mironovs were deprived of their estate, they decided to emigrate without losing hope that after some time they would be able to return. But that did not happen.

Until his death, he never ceased to be proud of being a Russian officer. According to his will, the ashes of Peter Vasilyevich were sent for burial to their homeland. The father of the actress, Vasily Petrovich, grew up in London from the age of 2. He worked as a violist in a philharmonic orchestra, but during the Second World War he was forced to retrain as a taxi driver. Married an Englishwoman. In 1945 their daughter Elena was born.

In the late 1950s, after the death of his father, Vasily Petrovich decided to assimilate in the UK and changed his name and the name of his daughter

Parents wanted Helen to become a teacher, but she was fond of the theater and entered the drama school, in 18 years she was accepted into the National Youth Theater, and then at the Royal Shakespeare Theater.

“When I was in school, roles were handed out for the performance. The girls got princesses, fairies, and I got to play the thrush. Bursting into tears of resentment, I vowed to become an actress and certainly play queens, ”recalls Helen Mirren in an interview.

And so it happened. After appearing on the screen, she became a popular actress, and in the 1990s she began acting in Hollywood. There are about 40 films in her filmography, but worldwide fame came to her after the Oscar as the best actress for her role as Elizabeth II in the film The Queen in 2006. A year after her triumph, Helen Mirren decided to look for her relatives in Russia. The arrival of the actress in Kuryanovo in 2007 became a real sensation. At the edge of the forest, 2 km from Kuryanovo, they discovered the foundation of the Mironov estate. When the actress arrived there, she said: “The feelings that I experienced at the Oscars are nothing compared to those that cover me now!”

And in Moscow, she met with the descendants of her grandfather's sisters

“I recently found my second cousins. And she was happy. I love being in Russia, I consider it my second home. I don't drink vodka, I don't know Russian, but I feel Russian. I bake Easter cakes and know how to darn, ”confessed Mirren.

Helen told the first meeting with the sisters OK Magazine: “I thought all my relatives had died. My sister and I entered the cafe and started crying. It was so touching. For so many decades we did not even know about the existence of this part of our family! I thought that my relatives simply did not survive in Stalin's time, because they were the most suitable candidates for the Gulag. But they survived, survived the war. And since the Soviet Union ceased to exist, we were able to meet. It was amazing!”

News asked the actress about her life in exile - now Mirren lives in America, although her childhood was spent in London. The journalist asked why she did not learn Russian.

- I was 9 years old when my grandfather died, who spoke Russian to us. And dad immediately changed our Russian names to English ones: I was Elena (my grandfather called me Alyonushka), and Helen became cold and stiff. And instead of Russian, we got a Scottish surname similar in sound. Papa forbade us to even think about learning the Russian language. As a child of an immigrant, he suffered in his youth and did not want us to experience the same suffering.

You have been living in Los Angeles for a long time. Don't you feel like a stranger in America, like your father once did in England?

- This is completely different. I'm not in exile here. I can fly to London any time. As for emigration, in my opinion, it is monstrously unfair when a person is forced to leave his homeland forever and start life from scratch. I don't wish this on anyone. After all, the problem of emigration is that no matter who you were in the past, it will not help you in the present. This world says: "Now you're nobody, get out if you can."

Lisa Gerson, correspondent NTV: “Helen, your father's family was forced to leave for Britain and was never able to return to Russia after the revolution. Has their pain, their homesickness ever subsided?”

- Yes exactly. I grew up with this feeling of pain. My father was taken away from Russia when he was 2 years old. He let go of his past. He didn't live it, but my grandfather certainly did. It was an unhealed wound of his entire life. His mother, his sisters remained in Russia. He knew he would never see them again. When I was little, about 5-6 years old, he lived in the past, drawing all the time, drawing pictures from the past. He drew a map of his dacha, which was 3-4 hours drive from Moscow near the city of Gagarin. And he remembered all this down to the smallest detail, drawing and telling me where the stables were, where lindens grew, spray roses that his mother had planted.

“Many, many years later, my sister and I got to the places that belonged to our grandfather, we were able to walk on his land. My sister and I planted a rose. I think it dried up a long time ago. Our great-grandmother loved roses and planted them in this land. We planted a flower in her memory.”

I'm about to play the role of Catherine II in her later years. And I sincerely hope that the shooting will take place in Russia. It will be wonderful, because there is nothing like Russia, nothing close to it. It is not only buildings, not only magnificent palaces. It's landscape, it's scope. There is so much sky in Russia. I really want to return to Russia.

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