“How dare you?”: watch Helen Mirren shut down Parkinson in sexist 1975 interview

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Sarah Biddlecombe

Dame, actress and all-round feminist superhero Helen Mirren, 71, has never been one to mince her words. 

She's spoken out on how it "makes her gag" when people describe women as "feisty" and poured scorn on the word beautiful, as well as reveal that, were she to have a daughter, the first words she would teach her are "f--- off".

Now, in a recently revived clip of a 1975 Parkinson interview, we can see that Mirren has always had a brilliantly defiant streak, particularly when faced with blatantly sexist questions.

When Mirren met Parkinson...

When Mirren met Parkinson...

The interview started with a then-41-year-old Parkinson introducing the 30-year-old Mirren as a "sex queen" and went rapidly downhill from there.

"You are, in quotes, a serious actress," began Parkinson, to which a steely Mirren responded, "In quotes? What do you mean in quotes? How dare you."

Parkinson then proceeded to ask Mirren whether her "equipment", ie. her body, would detract viewers from considering her as a serious actress. And after forcing Parkinson to "spit out" what he meant by "equipment", Mirren stated, "Because serious actresses can’t have big bosoms, is that what you mean?”

The actress then went on to take down the sexist line of questioning once and for all: "I can’t think that can necessarily be true. I mean, what a crummy performance if people are obsessed with the size of your bosoms more than anything else.

"I would hope that the performance and the play and the living relationship between all the people on the stage and all the people in the audience overcome such boring questions."

"Because serious actresses can’t have big bosoms, is that what you mean?”

"Because serious actresses can’t have big bosoms, is that what you mean?”

The interview, which took place while Mirren was playing the role of Lady Macbeth with the Royal Shakespeare Company, has racked up over three million views since it was first posted to YouTube in 2008.

Speaking to The Telegraph in 2011 about the clip, Mirren described Parkinson as "a f---ing sexist old fart", and added, "that’s the first talk show I’d ever done. I was terrified. I watched it and I actually thought, bloody hell! I was so young and inexperienced."

You can watch the second half of the clip, which was also recently posted on Facebook, below.


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Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Features Editor at Stylist

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