How Martha Stewart Inspired Helen Mirren's 'Red' Performance

Sure, "Red" has an amazing cast of actors — Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Richard Dreyfuss, among others — but we're not alone in calling out Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren as one of the most intriguing (and unlikely) of the bunch.

In the film, Mirren plays one of several retired black ops agents forced back into the killing business when her former team is targeted for assassination. Wielding everything from a mounted machine gun to a sniper rifle, her character (Victoria) is the picture of serenity while mowing down enemies with high-powered weaponry. When MTV News caught up with her at the "Red" press junket, we asked the actress about what inspired her performance.


"I guess [it was] a bit of a no-brainer, really," said Mirren of taking the role. "I was a little bit nervous because I thought, 'Am I destroying my reputation as a serious actress here?' and then I thought, 'Yes, I am! Fantastic! Go for it, girl!'"

While Mirren's character wasn't present in the original "Red" comic book series created by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, screenwriters Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber created the role with her in mind. This sort of writing with casting in mind can occasionally cause problems for actors, but not so for Mirren.

"I think it is a good thing, because it makes you feel a little bit more confident," she said of having the role written for her.

Even so, she looked externally for inspiration when it came to playing Victoria.

"I based it on Martha Stewart, so I wasn't really like myself at all," she laughed. "It's an homage. I love Martha Stewart and I think she's absolutely remarkable. ... It's her incredible concentration and determination and efficiency. She's just really good at what she does and I wanted Victoria to be really good at what she does."

"Red" hits theaters this weekend (October 15), and features an all-star cast that includes Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, Richard Dreyfuss, Brian Cox, and Mary Louise-Parker, among others. The film is directed by Robert Schwentke.

Previously, we featured a full week of guest columns by Warren Ellis here on Splash Page, and now you can keep it locked to Splash Page for more "Red" news, interviews, and clips all week as we near the film's premiere.

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