“I've always rather loved driving. I said, 'I'll be in it, but only if I'm allowed to drive if I do drive in it.'” Mirren told an American magazine.
This is the fulfillment of a lifelong – or at least since the first film roared onto the big screen in 2001 – dream for Mirren, who has spoken in the past about her “great ambition” to join the series, which also stars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Gal Gadot.
“I so want to be a mad driver in a Fast and Furious movie,” she has said. “My claim to fame is I always do my own driving. . . . I keep putting it out there, and they never ask me.”
She’s also been very vocal in the past about her love of Diesel, the franchise’s star, producer and, of course, emotional heart. “I’m a huge fan of Vin Diesel,” she has said. “It came from me watching him make a speech once at some ceremony. He was just so smart and so funny and so cool. And I just sort of fell a little bit in love with him right there and then.”
And it is true that Mirren does her own vehicle stunts: you can see her outstanding performances behind the wheel in hilarious over-the-hill action film Red and also in, ahem, The Queen, where she drives a very big Land Rover through the wilds of rural Scotland.
She’s also one of the most popular celebrities to ever appear in Top Gear’s much-loved ‘Star in a Reasonably Priced Car’ series, which you can revisit below.
Here’s the thing: we here in the marie claire office truly, madly, deeply and it must be said unashamedly love the Fast & Furious series in all its silly, spine-tingly, illegal drag-racing glory.
We already have our dream storyline in mind, one that sees Mirren play the brutal, boss lady matriarch of the Shaw family, overseeing the vengeance that her sons (played brilliantly by Jason Statham and Luke Evans) will wrought upon Dominic Toretto and his band of petrolheads.
And the news that Helen Mirren brings the films tally of Oscar winning castmembers up to a nice, even two (Charlize Theron has also signed on to play a villain) is cause for celebration. Perhaps 2018 will be the year that Vin Diesel’s prediction that Fast & Furious will win a Best Picture Oscar – “unless the Oscars don’t want to be relevant ever” – will come true.