Helen Mirren 'struggled to talk to people' due to Russian upbringing

Helen Mirren

Helen Mirren struggled to talk to people when she left home due to her intense upbringing in a Russian family.

The Queen actress was born Helen Lydia Mironoff to an English mother and Russian father, and tells U.K. chat show host Graham Norton that when growing up, the conversation was always about philosophy.

"You don't have small talk in a Russian household," she explained. "You talk about the soul and whether there is a God? You talk about deep philosophical stuff, so when I grew up and left home I found it almost impossible to talk.

"I would have found it impossible to sit here and not talk about really heavy stuff. It's great now, I've learnt!"

Helen has got in touch with her Russian roots to play the country's notorious 18th Century monarch Catherine the Great in a new miniseries.

Although Catherine has become as famous for her amorous exploits as her skill as a ruler - Helen said that as a historical figure, she hasn't had her due.

"She was incredibly politically clever, very courageous and she expanded the Russian empire considerably," the 74-year-old mused. "She has been unfairly and incredibly maligned."

Discussing the lavish HBO and Sky Atlantic production, she gushed: "It's huge and incredible. Telly has changed exponentially over recent years, so if you're doing something on the wealthiest woman in the world, it's got to be pretty spectacular."

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