MIR­REN MAGIC

THE HOL­LY­WOOD STAR SAVOURS HER LAT­EST ROLE AS THE OWNER OF A FANCY FRENCH RES­TAU­RANT

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - RICK BENT­LEY

Dame He­len Mir­ren be­gins with a food metaphor when talk­ing about her lat­est film, The Hun­dred-Foot Jour­ney.

“A film is like a souffle,” Mir­ren says. “Ob­vi­ously, it mustn’t col­lapse. But, it also has to have some sub­stance to it. I think that this film does have quite se­ri­ous themes run­ning through. One of those themes is ‘love thy neigh­bour’ and I think that is one of the hard­est things to do.

“It sounds easy but when your neigh­bour plays loud mu­sic and cooks with curry and you don’t like the smell of it, then it be­comes hard to love thy neigh­bour.”

In Hun­dred-Foot Jour­ney, Mir­ren plays Madame Mal­lory, the owner of a much-touted res­tau­rant in a small town in the south of France that faces com­pe­ti­tion from an In­dian res­tau­rant that opens across the road.

Direc­tor Lasse Hall­strom, through food, looks at love, life, fam­ily, racism and even a lit­tle pol­i­tics. Com­par­ing cook­ing and act­ing makes sense to Mir­ren be­cause both start with ba­sic in­gre­di­ents that must be blended to­gether prop­erly.

A chef and ac­tor add their own spice and in the end of­fer up a pre­sen­ta­tion they hope will be loved.

“I came to re­alise while mak­ing this film that a chef, like a great writer or a great painter or a great mu­si­cian, is a great artist. They also share the same kind of ob­ses­sions, the same kind of sin­gle­mind­ed­ness about what they are do­ing,” Mir­ren says.

“I would say if there is a dif­fer­ence, a chef is more ob­sessed.” She pauses, smiles and then adds, “And they both live and die by the crit­ics and word of mouth.”

Mir­ren’s faced years of re­views since begin­ning her act­ing ca­reer with the Royal

I CAME TO RE­ALISE THAT A CHEF, LIKE A GREAT WRITER OR A GREAT PAINTER OR A GREAT MU­SI­CIAN, IS A GREAT ARTIST

Shake­speare Com­pany in the late ’60s. She’s con­sid­ered to be one of the best ac­tresses work­ing, but when she re­ceives a neg­a­tive re­view it’s like a “dag­ger to the heart”.

Mir­ren is not a great cook her­self, but she does love read­ing cook­books and watch­ing cook­ing TV shows.

She loves the idea of cook­ing, but she says it seems so time con­sum­ing - plan­ning, shop­ping, un­load­ing the shop­ping, pre­par­ing the meal and clean­ing up.

“It’s re­ally lovely when some­one else does the cook­ing,” she says.

Land­ing the role of the French res­tau­rant owner brought Mir­ren a lit­tle closer to a life­long dream of be­ing a French ac­tress.

The Hun­dred-Foot Jour­ney opens to­day.

Pic­ture: FRAN­COIS DUHAMEL

He­len Mir­ren stars as chef and res­tau­rant owner Madame Mal­lory.

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