Over the 20-plus years, the Fast and Furious franchise has amassed quite the alumni roster. Every movie they add more and more actors to the Toretto “family.” Among the more improbable additions was Dame Helen Mirren, the beloved, Oscar-winning English thespian who first appeared in 2017’s eightquel The Fate of the Furious, playing the criminal mother of Jason Statham and Luke Evans’ Deckard and Owen Shaw. But it wasn’t them begging Dane Helen to join the team. It was somehow the other way around.
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Mirren was asked about the rumor that Vin Diesel, the series’ resident Dom, asked her to take a small but scene-stealing role. That rumor was almost true, just inverted.
“I didn’t ask, I begged!” Mirren recalls:
“I think I was at some function, and he was there, and I got introduced to him. And I was shameless: ‘Oh God, I’d just love to be in one of your movies! Please let me be in it.’ And then Vin, with that beautiful, deep voice of his, said: ‘I’ll see what I can do.’ And he did it for me. He found this great little role for me, which was perfect. I’d just never done anything like that before — one of those big, big movies. And, in my vanity, I just loved driving and really wanted to do my own driving in a fast car.
Last year, when F9 came out, Mirren revealed that she was willing to do more Diesel than maybe drive him around.
The Fate of the Furious wasn’t the first time that Mirren — who got her start at the Old Vic in London, has acted for legendary filmmakers like Michael Powell, Ken Russell, John Boorman, and Peter Greenaway, and who has played two separate Queen Elizabeths, on both stage and screen — did action. She appeared in two RED movies, alongside Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Brian Cox, Ernest Borgnine, and more. That’s range.