Chapter 3 of 28 from Helen Mirren

Evolving as a Theater Actress


While performing with an experimental theater group, Helen learned valuable lessons about voice training, physicality, and control. Here, she shares them with you.

Topics include: Train Your Voice • Finding Freedom With Peter Brook • Taking Control • Own Your Physicality

While performing with an experimental theater group, Helen learned valuable lessons about voice training, physicality, and control. Here, she shares them with you.

Topics include: Train Your Voice • Finding Freedom With Peter Brook • Taking Control • Own Your Physicality

Helen Mirren

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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Find freedom in your roles

Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy, and Tony winner Helen Mirren is one of the greatest actresses of our time. In her first online class, she discusses the dualism that is core to her method: the necessity for mastering technique (craft) and then letting go so that your imagination can take over (art). Learn how to break down a script, research characters, and master techniques so you can transcend them to find freedom in every role.

Helen brings you behind the scenes to show you the secrets of her acting technique.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Helen will also critique select student work.


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

Helen Mirren is an absolute acting darling! She transfers to the students the absolute and utter need for naturalism, and most of all, the need to embrace human qualities and emotions; to not run away nor be scared from them, but rather, to be thankful for them. This class is worth every penny!

I am totally motivated and inspired to move on and take more acting classes. It has been so exciting to watch Helen Mirren and learn about her experiences.

It was great to get Helen Mirren's perspective on the craft and the particular things that she focuses on.

Loved this Masterclass! One of my favourite courses.


Mary R.

...always revealing something about myself in a role. This really stood out to me.

Kara F.

I feel like her lessons translate so well into every aspect of life. Specifically the end of this lesson on owning your physicality and yourself...beautiful.

Katharina B.

Really enjoyed Ms. Mirren. What a gift. Thank you, you have given me some things to think about. Katharina

A fellow student

I could listen to Helen all day. Her stories are fabulous, with some good suggestions. However - I would have loved some actual tips and exercises on HOW to train your voice. I thought that's what we were paying for here. She mentions that drama courses can be pricey and not always beneficial - I agree. Disappointed in lack of 'technical' sharing at this point.

A fellow student

Enjoy anything she does. What a powerhouse this woman is! She gives good advice that can be translated to writing, and to life in general. She should have gone into psychotherapy, not teaching.

Nikil J.

I plan to work on my voice starting to-day. Glad that the teacher did not leave that out, in the context of all the other nuanced material, such as control and freedom.

David (.

Very early on in my acting career I learned that I was a really bad actor. Fortunately, I got enough work to join ACTRA and UBCP and have maintained my membership for the last 30 years, but more importantly, because I could never remember my lines, or wanted to change them, I realized that I make a far better writer than I do an actor.

Vickie R.

Very good advice. I always try to be like other people, like Melania Trump and Kim Kardashian. I tried wearing those super high heels yesterday and I took not just one but TWO huge prafalls in front of a Catholic Hospital. I did see a lot of people laughing and some thought I fell on purpose but I didn't and it hurt like HELL! Lesson learned. I CANNOT wear high heels like Melania Trump and I do best in flats or tennis shoes. How on earth these celebs strut around all day long in such high shoes I don't know, but what I do know is it's not for me. I now have a collection of 10 different colored tennis shoes for every occasion--day and night.

Jason H.

I love owning the physicality- no matter how hard I am on myself to stay in shape, even when I’m not happy with myself I own it for my character and make it part of who I am on stage.

Nina R.

Omg that was brilliant, I love that Helen is saying be yourself, and reveal yourself over hiding yourself in character. I’ve now got to read ‘empty space’...... and book voice coaching


I would advise many of you-- actually in a way more maybe than going to drama classes. I'm a little ambivalent about drama classes. But what I do believe in is training your voice. Because if your voice is so developed and so present, at least that's one tool you don't have to worry about. And that's to do with breathing, and breathing is very much to do with relaxation, and relaxation is very much to do with acting. Learning to breathe, learning to resonate. [CHUCKLES] It's not necessarily about projection, although projection is very much a part of it. And it's very disappointing to me. Sometimes you see a wonderful actor on the screen, fabulous at being quiet, absolutely wonderful. Modulated, there's a lot of music, maybe, in their voices. Very interesting. But now they have to play a scene where they're supposed to be talking to 50 people. And you can't talk like this to 50 people because they won't hear you. You have to talk with some voice. And then you hear this actor who talks like this. (EXAGGERATEDLY) Something that sounds like this because they can't produce their voice. I don't know how to. And it's all become strangulated. So the idea of freeing your voice, freeing your vocal chords, it's a process, incidentally, I'm still working on. It's a constant work, but it's a good work to do. It's a good basic physical exercise. And that's a good thing to do. This was what I learned at the RSE. Because we were very lucky, we had voice teachers there as a part of the company. So you would be taken off every once a week or twice a week to work with the voice teacher. And they had very, very brilliant vocal teachers there. So if you can, either make your own group-- because if you can't afford to go to a voice coach, you can actually read some material and the exercises. And maybe make your own little group where you do a little half hour session together every day or three or four times a week or something. And I think that's a very good training tool. And then Peter Brook came to do what became one of his most iconic productions, which was of a Midsummer Night's Dream that I wasn't in. I very much wanted to be. I very much wanted to play Titania, but my dear friend Sarah Kesselman got that role and she played it brilliantly. And I was not chosen for that role, but I was on the sidelines watching. And I watched this extraordinary genius of the theater work. I had seen his experimental work in London a year before and been very, very taken by that. And the whole idea of experimental theater was exploding at that time. So I felt that I needed to expand my understanding, my preparation as an actor needed to expand. And needed to expand out of the classical theater, which is beautiful because it's so disciplined and demanding, but into experimental theater to find freedom. And freedom, freedom is my...