Dame Helen Mirren has dedicated her latest role in "The Tempest" to struggling women throughout history. The veteran British actress takes on the traditionally male role of Prospero in the upcoming screen adaptation of the Shakespeare play and reveals she invented a back story for her character that involved being punished for an interest in alchemy.
And she admits her performance was inspired by all women who have suffered because of their gender. Speaking at the world premiere of The Tempest at the Venice Film Festival, she said, "Women have been punished for being powerful for many centuries and I thought that was the remarkable thing about making Prospero into Prospera. You can bring in that history of female struggle. We can see now in the extreme fundamentalist states, whatever religion they are, that they want to exclude women from education."
"An educated female sex is dangerous for the status quo, they believe. Women with any interest in education are persecuted for being witches, herbalists, evil. I thought of all these women, now and throughout history, as I was playing Prospera."
Mirren, who donned a red gown, was accompanied by husband Taylor Hackford at the red carpet event. Her co-star Djimon Hounsou and "The Tempest" director Julie Taymor were also present.