Film & TV

Bonus: Naturalism

Helen Mirren

Lesson time 13:35 min

Discover which film actors had the biggest influence on Helen and why their work is so important to her.

Helen Mirren
Teaches Acting
In 28 lessons, the Oscar, Golden Globe, Tony, and Emmy winner teaches her process for acting on the stage and screen.
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It's very interesting that some actors, no matter, really, where their background is-- what they come out of-- are natural Shakespearean actors. And here I would quote Marlon Brando, one speech in particular-- friends, Romans, and countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do, live after them. The good is often interred, buried with their bones. He does that speech with absolute pure Shakespearean-- if you like-- actor's expertise. He knows how to breathe. He knows how to carry on. And incidentally, speaking of voice, his voice is strong enough, and powerful enough, that you can believe that he's talking to 200 people. But at the same time here, he imbues it with his own natural sense of naturalism of drama. And I think it's a beautiful, beautifully executed Shakespearean speech. Done by an actor not famous for Shakespearean acting, and actually much better than most of the other British very-good-at-Shakespeare kind of actors in that film. I was blown away by it when I saw it many, many years ago. If you want to watch great Shakespearean actors, Olivier always. Olivier was famous in his day for naturalizing Shakespeare. And it wasn't acceptable when he first came to do Shakespeare, because Shakespeare was very declamatory thing at that point. And all of the work, really, in the 20th and 21st century, has been finding a way to be truthful to the poetry of Shakespeare-- utterly truthful to that-- but naturalize it. One day-- and I can't actually quite remember when it was-- I saw Anna Magnani work. And she became at that point, and still is, my great inspiration for film acting. Also, she was a theater actress, which I thought was great. I loved the fact that she was a theater actress as well. But on film, there's something so alive about her. It's the perfect combination of heightened but natural, which is what really, in a sense, the greatest acting is. Why, again, back to Al Pacino, Marlon Brando. The ones we love. The ones we really admire. It's heightened. Often they fall, because they go out on a limb. They're brave. They have the courage to put themselves out there into the world of poetry-- into the world of heightened work. But at the same time with naturalism. And it's a very heady mix. And for me that's what Anna Magnani has. There's an incredible scene in Mamma Roma, the film by Pasolini. I think one of her early films. This amazing scene, where it's this long-- talk about Scorcese-- I think it's like a three- or four-minute long shot where she's just walking towards the camera. And the camera's tracking behind her. I don't know how they did it, whether she was following someone on a bike, or something. It's very steady. They didn't have steadycam those days. So she's just walking and talking. And different characters come in a...

Find freedom in your roles

In her first-ever online acting class, Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren shares the techniques she has learned through the course of her international career that has spanned stage, screen, and television. Her powerful and versatile performances have earned her numerous awards, including the Academy Award in 2007 for her performance in The Queen, a Tony Award in 2015 for her performance in The Audience, and four Emmy Awards.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

From a writer-directors point of view, this will help me work more closely with actors, i believe this artform is a lot like music, drummers singers working together, bouncing ideas and elevating to shift the performance to maybe something new, This class with her kicked some real ass.

Loved this Masterclass! One of my favourite courses.

What do I say? An excellent class: a wise very skilled actor sharing her experience . A wonderful class. Thank you!

Learning from one of my favourite actors is a dream come true. Now I need to digest many tips and apply them to daily life as well. Thank you all so much for this unique and powerful masterclass



Thank you Helen for giving us so much valuable content and advices. I'm just scratching the surface as an actress and it's beautiful to have the opportunity to have a star sharing her mindset and techniques with us. I feel so blessed, and now it's time for some ACTION :) Have a wonderful journey !<3

Marleen A.

I have learned so much from this masterclass and loved every minute of it. She not only gives you tips and tricks on how to become a better actor, but also tells you practical things you need to know when on a filmset or on stage which wil be very helpfull in my career.

Master B.

Helen Mirren, Thank U for Sharing Your Professional "Craftmanship", Honored!!!!

Angelica C.

She's absolutely one of the greatest actresses there's ever been and will be there's no doubt about that. But most importantly her spirit, personality, depth and commitment to the arts is one of a kind. I respect her and admire her beyond words. I learnt a huge deal from her class and will definitely be rewatching it. There's so much wealth in her stories, knowledge and wisdom, her direction and counseling to young and professional actors in this current world and industry are invaluable. She's a total gem. Thank you Helen!

Bianca A.

I loved the Masterclass, so inspiring all the way along, a great Lesson for both new actors and professional actors. Helen is so natural, profound and yet simple and very humble in her storytelling, she just makes you want to hear more and more. She reminds me so much of a famous Italian actress I had the great privilege to work with in Racine's "Phedre" and who unfortunately passed away a few years ago, Mariangela Melato. I played Ismene and every performance over two years touring through Italy I watched her from behind the wings to try and steal her Art. In the same way, Helen's teachings have already accompanied me while working on film and at auditions and the entire process of the preparation of two Shakespearian monologues has been inspiringly useful giving me a great bout of freedom. It has been a wonderful journey. Thank you ever so much Helen for sharing your experience, you are truly a Star and a very Special Woman.

Chava G.

I really like her, such fluid elegance! Ms. Mirren is so much herself, a noble and fine actor with wit, talent, beauty and ability. She is also a masterful story teller, revealing absolute histories, and enjoy the exquisite technologies available to one who is a genius at her craft. You can learn longevity, agility and endearment from this versatile actor woman!

A fellow student

Just the act of listening to her and watching her is itself a lesson. She's a gifted storyteller with a natural command of the screen, which makes it easy to get hooked on her lessons. Her voice goes down like honey; listening to her is like drinking a warm cup of Earl Grey with milk and sugar on a grey, rainy day tucked comfortably inside. It's also really easy to crush on her. The wide open attitude of hers reveals so much about process. I especially enjoyed the case studies, particularly Gosford Park - that was fascinating, to learn how the idea of sisters erupted spontaneously midway production, along with the excision of an extraneous scene and the addition of a crucial scene that Altman directed Helen to write with Eileen Atkins upon the suggestion by Mirren that it was missing from the script! I found her set stories to offer the most practical lessons. Also, whoever did her hair, make-up and wardrobe - perfection. The set too, with that rug - thank you, Taylor Hackford? The image of an intrepid Helen Mirren standing up for her characters is an inspiring one. Masterclass grade for Professor Mirren: A+

Nina R.

I loved the Masterclass, it was very interesting and informative with a very friendly approach by Helen Mirren. It’s fabulous to be able to hear Helens thoughts, direction and advice as a one to one in the comfort of my home. I’m delighted this course is available to Actors and delighted to have learned from one of the Greats in Film and TV. Thank you Dame Helen Mirren for your truth and honesty about your career and the industry we venture into.

Henrique B.

Helen, i'm very enchanted with your humanity and accurate vision of thinking and change fast for the actors and acting with heightened and natural attitude.

Jessie K.

Helen Mirren, Thank you for sharing your stories, and the inner workings of your unique genius. What a wonderful journey this has been. May you continue to find characters and scripts that inspire us all.