Set to grace three new films this season (Red, The Tempest, and The Debt), the Oscar-blessed actress—and perennial hottie—waxes wise about gardens, gams, and a wholly undervalued vice (drugstore makeup!)
Illustration by Risko
Answer your own Proust Questionnaire on Facebook.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
To sit by a clear river on a warm day in early July with the smell of cut grass in the air.
Which living person do you most admire?
Sister Alice Marie Quinn, who runs St. Vincent Meals on Wheels in Los Angeles.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Laziness and procrastination.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Serially telling endless boring jokes and sexism and racism and homophobia (they often go together).
What is your greatest extravagance?
What is your favorite journey?
The top of any bus going anywhere in London.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
On what occasion do you lie?
When I have inadvertently double-booked myself.
What do you dislike most about your appearance?
Oh, Lord, where do I begin?
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
What is your greatest regret?
Not painting more.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My husband and all the dogs I have ever known.
When and where were you happiest?
The night of my marriage, in Ardersier, Scotland, and digging the vegetable patch in the Forest of Dean.
What is your current state of mind?
Calm, but scared.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My legs or my unmusicality.
What is your favorite occupation?
Probably gardening. Also dressmaking.
What is the quality you most like in a person?
Strength without bullying.
What do you most value in your friends?
Their ability to open a bottle of wine.
Who are your favorite writers?
Joseph Conrad, Barbara Vine, Mark Twain, Joseph Roth, J. M. Barrie, just a few …
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
A very worn sofa.
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
A businesswoman athlete who can sing.
Proust Questionnaire: Helen Mirren | Culture | Vanity Fair