Film & TV


Helen Mirren

Lesson time 3:37 min

To start her MasterClass, Helen demonstrates a simple act that’s one of the hardest things for an actor to do: walking naturally. She then introduces you to the world of acting and the empty space that will be your classroom.

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.
Get All-Access


So I just did what I consider to be one of the most difficult things to do in my profession of acting, which is to walk as yourself. Just to be yourself walking, is peculiarly difficult. I don't know how well I did it just now. Certainly off stage, before I walked on, first of all, I had my hands in my pocket. And then I thought, no that's fake. You're just trying to be casual. Take your hands out of your pocket. So I did. And then I thought, how do I do this? How do I be as real and as natural as possible? All of this stuff goes through your mind really fast. And then I thought, the only way to do it is simply, in my mind, to have the intention-- and this sounds so silly-- to walk to the chair. That's your whole intention. You just think, I got to get to that chair, and I've got to sit down. And that was all I did. But you know what? That was acting. Because here we have an empty space. I very much wanted to start my Masterclass in an empty space. As you will see later on, this space will become filled with elements, with costumes, with props, with all sorts of different things. All the tools of the acting trade. But basically, at its heart, our world of acting is an empty space. It's an empty space that we fill with our imagination, with our technique, with our philosophy, with our poetry, with our passion, with our fears, with our insecurity. It's funny about walking, you know. I was watching a young actor the other day on television. And this thing of walking naturally is peculiarly difficult. And I'm going to show you what he did to try and look natural. And I'm going to do it for you. What he did was sort of this. He had his hands in his pocket, and everything about him was trying to look natural. So when he walked, he kind of kicked his feet like this. And when he turned he kind of turned like this. And then if he did a gesture, it was kind of, oh, I'm so relaxed. I'm so natural. It communicated just unnaturalness. In our world of acting, we are constantly seeking for nature. Nature and art, and nature in art. So I wanted to start this in this open, empty space. An empty space into which we put our fears, our terrors, our imagination-- above all our imagination-- our poetry, our philosophy, our storytelling. Because that's what we are. We're storytellers. I'm Helen Mirren. And this is my Masterclass.

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.

I became more confident with myself and learned valuable life lessons. Again I would have loved to see more exercises and assignments to put this knowledge into practice.

ms. mirren is at ease with communicating essential ideas on acting after gathering together her years of experience. totally coherent and trustworthy information. i am so grateful to have had an opportunity to listen to her thoughts on acting. well done, indeed!

Fantastic class! I learned so much about the art of acting and more broadly, about the art of filmmaking. I highly recommend this experience with Helen Mirren!

Amazing class, the best part was just hearing about Helen's experience and how shes goes about her career. I expected there to be, and there could have been more acting style and technique lessons other than Shakespeare. Overall, I loved the class and will go through it multiple times probabaly!


Joyce S. R.

For actors it's so important to be present. It's is so important to be, more that pretending to be.


This was my college major. I graduated from the program, but I never got good at it.

Sophia T.

Amazed by how she pointed to one of the most powerful aspects of acting and... life, really: Intention. So beautifully embedded then into the idea of an empty space that starts gaining direction with a focused intention and draws to it the imagination, thoughts, ideas, also reflecting the current & desired emotional states of Beingness. What an honor of her allowing us to dive into her brilliant mind. Thank you! Thank this entire Platform of Mastery & Masters.

Lynne E.

Simplicity is so deceptively complicated. Regarding the young actor trying to look casual: this is why I spend the first 20 mins or so of a Shakespearean play cringing at the false casualness of most of the cast.

A fellow student

I loved how she ended the piece with saying how "we are storytellers." It is something absolutely true. We are the catalyst on which the story is told.

A fellow student

SO much insight just in that intro. The idea of simply walking to the chair is so good! My greatest challenge in acting is the overthinking. So excited and happy she started how she did! BRILLIANT

A fellow student

When I saw this on SM I had to take this course because of Helen M! She's like my idol (among Angelina Jolie, Gal Gadot, and Orlando Bloom). This is a once in a lifetime experience that shouldn't be missed. I'm an aspiring author, and one of the many things they've suggested is to take courses in film studies (screenwriiting and whatnot) to help you with scenes, etc. So this will also help with my writing skills.

Massimo G.

I'm doing an emerging works class, in where at the end of the semester we produce student written, directed and performed plays. I am both the writer and director of a 30+ minute play, and as such, I wanted to immerse myself in an acting Masterclass., to better help guide my cast. Already from this first video, I can see that this will be a very educational and valuable resource. Very excited to move forward.

David (.

I was a background performer on a Christopher Reeve HBO film which took place in the "Dust Bowl" days, and I did exactly what she described in her opening. How funny is that!

A fellow student

This was awesome and a great way to begin the class. A powerful lesson. I'm a sports broadcaster, who now has been dabbling in acting for about a year. I remember one of the first lessons I received when I was a young intern at my first TV station. I tried mimicking (in mannerisms and sound) like one of my broadcasting heroes, the late Stuart Scott, on my first demo reel. My boss was looking at the reel, critiquing it and noticed that I was using lines from Scott. He stopped the tape and said, "Al! This isn't you! When that camera is on, you have to be natural and be yourself. The audience can sense if it isn't natural!" An important lesson whenever that really relates to this introduction video from Helen Mirren. Excited to continue!