Dame Helen Mirren was left unimpressed during a recent appearance on The One Show, when host Alex Scott commended her for always playing “strong, feisty women.”
The Prime Suspect star joined Scott and co-presenter Matt Baker on Wednesday 30 October to talk about her new drama series Catherine the Great, in which she portrays the titular monarch.
During the chat, the Oscar-winning actor was introduced by a showreel of some of her most famous characters and Scott followed it up by saying that she admired the types of roles she tends to gravitate towards. However, Mirren didn’t seem too pleased with the former’s choice of adjective.
“Well, you know, I have played housekeepers as well, and I’m playing a cleaner in my next film. I hope there’s a bit of variety there,” she began.
“I have to say I don’t like the word ‘feisty,’” she added. “I don’t know why. I think it’s because it’s always related to women. They never say ‘feisty man’... Kid, maybe. But I find it slightly insulting, I don’t know why. I want to find another word. See, I was being the boss there, wasn’t I?”
This isn’t the first time Mirren has taken aim at the label. Back in 2015, she told The Times that words such as ‘feisty’ and ‘sassy’ make her “gag” and that society should endeavour to find new ways to describe “female power and funniness and smartness.”
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For what it’s worth, Mirren may actually have a point when it comes to the language we use to describe a certain type of woman. Back in 2016, Special K asked 2000 women to list which words they found sexist as part of its Strength Is... campaign and ‘feisty’ was mentioned numerous times.
Other phrases included ‘Drama Queen,’ ‘bitchy,’ ‘diva’ and ‘bossy.’