Helen Mirren Plays Against Type on “SNL”

You have to give it to Helen Mirren: Despite a reputation of playing serious and regal roles ((Inspector Jane Tennison from “Prime Suspect,” Queen Elizabeth II from “The Queen”), she can definitely ham it up when it comes to comedy.

The Oscar-winning actress displayed that side of her last night in her guest hosting stint on “Saturday Night Live.” In fact, that was the point of her monologue where she tried to distance herself from her portrayal of the Queen, first by showing some sexy pap photos of herself. During a singing number where she was accompanied by the male cast members dressed as sailors, Mirren cheekily referenced her appearance in the 1979 decadent Bob Guccione film “Caligula.”

On two skits, Mirren parodied her fellow British thespians. Wearing dark glasses and a stringy black wig, she portrayed Helena Bonham Carter, who gets tax advice from Mort Mort Feingold (Andy Samberg), the accountant for the stars. On Hugh Jackman’s “Best of Both Worlds” talk show, Mirren played Julie Andrews, who shows her dark side when she viciously speared an assistant who messed up her tea.

Aside from the Queen on film, Mirren also portrayed historical figures on "SNL." In oen sketch, she was “Frankenstein” author Mary Shelley, whose landlord is named Frank Stein—his greenish skin color, wide forehead and mannerisms are very reminiscent to the creature in the book, albeit with a distinctive New York accent.

And in a promo for the wildly-historically inaccurate TV miniseries “The Roosevelts,” Mirren was a scheming Eleanor Roosevelt, who orders husband Franklin (Bill Hader) to sit on his wheelchair and act sick; she also engages in a deep romantic kiss with Norma Jean (a.k.a. Marilyn Monroe).

Another character she mimicked was Tanya, an aging dancer at a gentleman’s club. "Bob Dylan punched her out at a party! She wrote the movie 'Cocoon!'” said the club’s retiring and boisterous MC (Jason Sudeikis).

Mirren portrayed herself in the “SNL “Digital Short in which cast member Nasim Pedrad experiences an out-of-body heavenly momen: she places both her hands on Mirren’s breasts in the dressing room. It was followed by a montage of clips from the moon landing to O.J. Simpson putting on the gloves in his murder trial.

Other noteworthy sketches included Fred Armisen portraying President Obama in the Oval Office; he spoke about the unhappiness felt by everyone following the recent budget agreement. “Mitt Romney is unhappy both with the size of the deficit in general, and his inability to connect with people on an emotional level,” he said. “And Senator John McCain is unhappy---but then, he’s always unhappy.”

On Weekend Update, Seth Meyers' guests were Democratic strategist James Carville (Hader) who offered his perspective on recent political events; and the flight attendant (Kristen Wiig) who was on the Southwest Airlines plane that had a hole  mid-flight.

Musical guests Foo Fighters rocked out with intensity; singer Dave Grohl also made a cameo in the Digital Short and in the gentleman’s club sketch.

Sources: Saturday Night Live broadcast April. 9, 2011, Hulu.com, IMDb,

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