She has made her name as one of Britain sexiest – and most talented – actresses.
But Dame Helen Mirren believes sex is overrated, at least when it comes to marriage.
The 67-year-old claims it is possible to be married, in love, and yet have no sex at all.
‘I don’t know why people have this idea that all marriages have to have sex because really, they don’t,’ she says in an interview.
This declaration comes from the woman who has oozed sex in movies and on TV – and who has even posed topless for a photoshoot in her 60s, reclining in a bath to promote her 2010 movie Love Ranch, about a married couple who open the first legal brothel in Nevada, USA.
At the time, she said she loved the idea of shocking people and she has done that in her latest interview with the Australian Women’s Weekly.
Sex? It’s not necessary in marriage, she makes clear.
‘There are other types of glue that hold people together.’
Dame Helen has been married since 1997 to American director Taylor Hackford.
The magazine claimed she was not speaking about her marriage but of the 54-year union between Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma.
Dame Helen plays Alma in the upcoming film, Hitchcock, which suggests that the master of suspense and his wife were no longer intimate because they slept in single beds.
There are indications in the movie that Alma, who is nearing 60 in the film, still wants Hitchcock to desire her – and Dame Helen tells the Australian magazine that she completely understands how Alma feels.
‘Of course, she’s his wife, she wants him to think, or to say, “Oh, look at you you look so chic!”.
‘It’s not “get your knickers down, darling”, but all women – or many women – want to be told they look nice.’
Dame Helen shows her amusement at suggestions people – and the headlines – describe her as ‘red hot’ or as a ‘sex pot’, rather than just ‘looking nice’.
The Australian magazine points out she has only herself to blame for the sexy headlines because just three years ago, at the age of 64, she startled photographers by emerging from the sea in Italy in a red bikini.
Then, two years ago, she posed naked, apart from a string of pearls, for New York magazine. And she stripped for Esquire, draped in just the Union Flag, in the lead up to the London Olympics.
Not to forget that topless bath picture.
Dame Helen, says the Australian Women’s Weekly, is tickled by the idea that she’s somehow doing something remarkable by being an object of sexual fascination well into her seventh decade.
‘I do feel insecure sometimes, just like everybody else,’ she said.
‘It’s ridiculous…we’re all worrying about (how we look) and it really is a bloody waste of time.’