She sent the world into a spin in 2008 when a jaw-dropping photo of her posing in a bikini went viral, but now Helen Mirren has revealed the real story behind the stunning snap – and it turns out it was all for her husband.
The 74-year-old actress was pictured by a paparazzi photographer on holiday in Italy in 2008 as she stood up and showed off her incredible figure in a red bikini. The photos catapulted her to a whole new level of fame as a sex symbol, as women around the world turned to her for inspiration for a healthy body type.
And now, quizzed about how she pulled off the amazing pose by KTLA‘s Sam Rubin in a new TV interview, Mirren has revealed she was trying to look “sexy” at the time for her husband Taylor Hackford.
“So, we were there, swimming a little bit, lying in the sun, and Taylor said, ‘Stand up, I want to take a picture of you’,” she revealed. “So I stood up, and sucked my tummy in because my husband was taking my photo. I tried to suck my cheeks in. I tried to look… good.”
Clearly amused by her hesitation to say “good”, Sam then joked: “You were about to say ‘sexy’.” To which Mirren burst out laughing and admitted: “I was, but no!”
“Just as he took the shot, I saw a flash in the hills,” she went on. ‘Taylor said, ‘What’s the matter?’ I said, ‘There’s paparazzi up there!’ He said, ‘No, there isn’t, don’t be ridiculous! How can they be up there, that’s absolutely absurd. You’re paranoid!’ Of course, three days later, that shot came out!”
It comes after Mirren’s nephew Simon addressed the huge reaction to the photos in an interview in 2016, revealing his aunt was offered millions of dollars to become the face of bikini brands and campaigns. Simon said he begged his aunt to take the deal but she repeatedly refused, saying she was embarrassed by the photos.
“I begged her to turn us all into millionaires by marketing bikinis after everyone went wild over her fit bikini body but she said: ‘Absolutely no’. She’s not interested. She won’t brand herself like that,” he told The Times.
Helen herself said she was “haunted” by the photos and wished they had never made it into the public eye.
“I think the thing that will haunt me for the rest of my life is that bloody photograph of myself in a bikini,” she said previously. “In and of itself, it is a lie because I don’t actually look like that and I know that that is going to haunt me forever and I’ll be forever trying to bury it unsuccessfully.”
Many women around the world applauded the star when the photos first came to light, with some suddenly seeing a woman over 60 as an inspiration for a healthy and fit body type at every age.