Dame Helen Mirren, 76, returned to the nation’s screens yesterday as she played Queen Elizabeth II in ‘The Queen’ on ITV3. The broadcast of the British biographical drama was perfectly timed, with Her Majesty’s upcoming Platinum Jubilee to mark her 70-year reign less than a fortnight away. Dame Helen portrayed the monarch in 1997 as the Royal Family and the nation struggled to come to terms with the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales, who was married to the Queen’s son and heir, Prince Charles.
The veteran English actress’ Oscar-winning performance was critically acclaimed by critics across the globe.
Dame Helen captured the Queen as a steely monarch who proved resistant to Tony Blair’s push to hold a public funeral for Diana, and to respond to the public’s grief over her death in a car crash in Paris.
The former Labour Prime Minister, who dubbed Diana ‘The People’s Princess’, is played by Michael Sheen.
In 2007, Dame Helen bagged the Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, for ‘The Queen’.
But just a year after being celebrated for her regal performance, the star admitted that she used to “love” snorting cocaine as she was interviewed by former newspaper editor Piers Morgan for GQ magazine.
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The actress revealed how she quit the class-A substance after learning that Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie had been profiting from selling the illegal stimulant while evading capture in South America.
Speaking in 2008, she told Mr Morgan: “I loved coke. I never did a lot, just a little bit at parties.
“But what ended it for me was when they caught Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyon, in the early Eighties.
“He was hiding in South America and living off the proceeds of being a cocaine baron.
“And I read that in the paper, and all the cards fell into place and I saw how my little sniff of cocaine at a party had an absolute direct route to this f***ing horrible man in South America.”
She explained that a friend had reassured her as she started to come up on the psychedelic: “I don’t know how people can take it time after time.
“I had the most wonderful time on it – it was wonderful, partly because my good friend came up to me just as the world was refracting and said, ‘Don’t worry Hel, it’s gonna be fine. Just let go and enjoy it and it’ll be fine,’ and I did.
“He sort of saved me and I had a fantastic time. But it’s too much, it’s too much.”
In her GQ interview, the actress also admitted to smoking weed, but claimed that cannabis left her feeling low.
She said: “I hated it. Dope always made me feel miserable and paranoid and unhappy.
“And I woke up one day and thought, ‘no more of that, thank you’.”
‘The Queen’ aired on ITV3 from 7pm.