Helen Mirren Realized ‘I’m an American’ After 9/11

by TK Sanders

Timeless actress Helen Mirren may hail from across the pond, but the Oscar winner considers herself just as much an American as a Brit.

Mirren, 76, became a U.S. citizen in 2017 after earning her dual passport status. But the actress admits that the urge to gain citizenship actually started many years before, when the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City caused her to have an “epiphany.”

“My husband [Taylor Hackford] is American, and my stepchildren are obviously American. My nephew lived in America, worked in America,” she told People in a magazine profile. “So I had certainly been an American resident for a very long time.”

Helen Mirren lived in NYC in 2001

Mirren said that she actually saw the second tower fall from a rehearsal space in the city. At the time, she was prepping for the Broadway play Dance of Death with fellow Brit Ian McKellen when they witnessed the devastation.

“I realized where my allegiance and my heart and my intellect lay in that confrontation between extremism, religiosity — all those things and everything that America represents,” she said. “And I thought, ‘I’m an American.’ I got an American flag, and I put it outside my window.”

The choice to become a citizen came about later when she realized that she did not have to forego her British citizenship in order to gain American passport rights.

“When I understood, which I hadn’t quite grasped before, that I could be a British citizen and an American citizen — because I would not like to give up my British citizenship — then I thought, ‘Well, that’s great. That’s the perfect world.'”

She also noted how good she felt after receiving her American citizenship.

“I didn’t realize how profound a feeling it would be,” she explained. “It brought up feelings of patriotism that I didn’t think I had. I think it was to do with the intrinsic generosity of America.”

What’s next for the distinguished thesbian?

Ironically enough, Mirren’s next slated performance tackles these exact feelings of international diplomacy and pride in country. The actress will star in the upcoming biopic about former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. Golda is set to premiere later this year and will chronicle her role as Prime Minister during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

Mirren recently discussed the backlash she received after accepting the role. Detractors claim that a Jewish woman should play Golda Meir to ensure accuracy.

“It was certainly a question that I had, before I accepted the role,” Mirren said, adding that she spoke with director Guy Nattiv about the issue. She also said she would step back from the film if needed.

“I do believe it is a discussion that has to be had — it’s utterly legitimate. You know, if someone who’s not Jewish can’t play Jewish, does someone who’s Jewish play someone who’s not Jewish?” Mirren asked rhetorically. “There’s a lot of terrible unfairness in my profession.”