"Men exposed themselves to me once a week": Helen Mirren speaks out about harassment

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Emily Reynolds
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Actress Helen Mirren has opened up about her experiences of harassment. 

Helen Mirren has spoken about her early experiences of harassment, describing the “horror” of men exposing themselves to her.

Speaking to Willy Geist on Sunday Today, Mirren says she regularly experienced sexual harassment on public transport as a young woman.

“When I was in between 16 and 23, 24 — men would expose themselves to me often, I would say about once a week…on the subway, on the tube, on the bus, walking down a road,” she said. 

“It was like, ‘Ugh.’”

And, in her characteristically blunt way, Mirren expressed something many of us have thought: “It’s not like you’re gonna go, ‘Oh my god, that’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. It’s the opposite!”

“It’s horror”.

These experiences largely happened before she hit Hollywood.

“I’ve never experienced that in Hollywood,” she said. “Because [when] I came to Hollywood, I was in my 30s. I was too old. It doesn’t happen to you unless you’re very young.”

She also used the interview to discuss the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

“This moment in time, this last sort of four or five months has been an enormous shift going on,” Mirren said. “It’s been coming. And I say ‘Time’s up.’ Well it’s about time time’s up. You know, it’s taken a long time to get here.”

Mirren’s comments are a long way away from some of her contemporaries’: French actresses Catherine Deneuve and Brigitte Bardot have both recently criticised #MeToo. Bardot told Paris Match magazine that she felt the movement was “hypocritical and ridiculous” and that “lots of actresses try to play the tease with producers to get a role… and then say they were harassed”. 

“I was never the victim of sexual harassment,” she said. “And I found it charming when men told me that I was beautiful or I had a nice little backside.”

Images: Rex Features