Legendary actress Helen Mirren has starred in everything from Broadway plays to television series to award-winning films. But when she first saw the script for her newest movie, “Collateral Beauty,” she said, “I never read anything like this before.”
Mirren described her reaction: “It will be either a complete disaster, will fall onto the rock and crash and burn, or it will be kind of wonderful and very special,” she told “CBS This Morning” Wednesday.
But the difficulty of playing the unusual new role was exactly what drew her to the script. Mirren stars as an actress who is hired to portray “Death,” in order to help a father who’s grieving the loss of his 6-year-old reconnect with life.
“It’s about finding your way back to life in the darkest of moments,” Mirren explained. “And that is basically what the phrase ‘collateral beauty’ kind of means.”
Mirren also manages to infuse comedy into her portrayal of “Death” – something she said was not intentional, but came out of her effort to make her character “as alive as possible.”
The father, played by Will Smith, copes with his devastating loss by writing angry letters to “Love,” Time,” and “Death.”
“It’s apparently quite a common thing when people are confronting unbelievable, deep, deep challenges and there is a feeling of, ‘Why is this happening to me? What is life about if it has to incorporate such pain?’” Mirren said.
The movie has been compared to a holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Shot in New York and telling a story about family and love, “Collateral Beauty,” Mirren said, was “very much a film for the Christmas period.”
The movie boasts a star-studded cast that also includes Ed Norton, Kiera Knightly and Kate Winslet.
“She’s everyone’s friend, she’s out-of-control sexy and beautiful and we all wanted to make out with her,” Winslet said of her co-star. Mirren laughed at the statement, joking that Winslet was a “naughty, naughty girl.”
“Is it true that, in a sense, that if you have looked ahead some 20 years to what a great life would be, it would be sort of the life you lived?” co-host Charlie Rose asked.
“Oh absolutely,” Mirren said. “My husband I were saying saying exactly that. ‘My God, we are so unbelievably fortunate,’ and we are and that there’s just no two ways about that... But you know, there is always challenges in life and as you get older, you know, I think they come more often probably just because you’ve lived on this planet for a longer time.”
On being called “sexy,” Mirren said she wanted to find another word that “somehow incorporates that but in a non, sort of sexual way.”
“What is that word, Helen?” co-host Gayle King asked.
“I don’t know, I’m thinking of it,” Mirren said. “Damn fine.”