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Helen Mirren: From Nanny to Cultural Landmark

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    There's nothing like a Dame who's not afraid to get her hands dirty, like Helen Mirren.

    Dame Helen Mirren walking out of the local liquor store clutching a fistful of quick-picks? It happens.

    Mirren – who co-stars in the remake of “Arthur" alongside Russell Brand, playing the role of faithful but caustic servant Hobson originated by Sir John Gielgud in the original (the remake makes Hobson a nanny to the spoiled rich manchild rather than a butler) – says that despite her own respectable financial profile, she, too, dreams of cashing in big with a winning lottery ticket and living life in the Trump Lane.

    “It’s a fantasy that we all have: What would we do if we had a billion dollars,” the Oscar-winner tells PopcornBiz. “That’s why when the lottery gets really big, when it’s up to $40-$50 million, I go out and buy a ticket, because maybe I’ll win! You don’t buy the ticket…You fantasize about what it would be like to have millions and millions and millions of dollars. I think we all do that and here we are – we can see what happens when you have millions and millions and millions of dollars. So I think it’s a fantasy that we all carry within us, anyone who’s ever bought a lottery ticket. We’re all dreamers.”

    That’s not to say that Mirren hasn’t found her own Arthur-esque indulgences after a few major paydays. “My husband and I bought a castle in Puglia,” she confesses. “It’s like turning on one’s taps full and money just pours out into the desert until it’s gone. Puglia is in the heel, the bottom of the heel of the boot of Italy. It will be beautiful, but it’s not finished. It’s not really a castle. It’s actually a farmhouse, but it is different: It’s got a little bit where you can pour boiling oil out of it. Puglia was being invaded all the time. They had endless invasions, so even the farmhouses are fortified. It’s a fortified farmhouse!”

    But with a castle to call home, an Oscar on her mantle and a British title preceding her name, Mirren’s feet remain on the ground – and literally in the ground, having just been cemented into Hollywood history at the famed Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

    “I feel really, really honored,” she says, recalling her first visit to Hollywood. “It’s the first place you want to go to because Los Angeles is Hollywood and Hollywood is Hollywood Blvd. and Grauman’s Chinese is Hollywood Blvd. So that’s the place you go to as a tourist. It’s the first thing you want to see. It’s the only thing really that you know about as far as Los Angeles is concerned. And so you go and you look at Joan Crawford’s hands and feet and the whole history of American filmmaking is encapsulated in that one little area on that one street.”

    “That street, to me, has always been the street of dreams,” she continues. “Personally, I’m thrilled that the Oscars are back on Hollywood Blvd. I think that’s where they should be. There’s just the whole history of filmmaking and seeing all those incredible stars. To find myself now, so many years later, that my hands and feet are going to be there, I’m absolutely blown away by it. Becoming a Dame: you know, fantastic. Winning an Oscar: amazing. Hands and feet: incredible!”