Dame Helen Mirren reflects on her dual-identity as an American and a Brit.

The actress told People applying for American citizenship became more obvious as time went on.

“My husband [Taylor Hackford] is American. My stepchildren are obviously American. My nephew lived in America, worked in America,” she explained. “So I had certainly been an American resident for a very long time.”

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Mirren’s decision to apply came with the understanding she could retain her British citizenship.

“When I understood, which I hadn’t quite grasped before, that I could be a British citizen and an American citizen — because I would not like to give up my British citizenship — then I thought, ‘Well, that’s great. That’s the perfect world,” she added.

The moment when she fully realized, however, that she really felt American was during the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

“I saw the second tower come down,” the star recalled. “I had an epiphany. I realized where my allegiance and my heart and my intellect lay in that confrontation between extremism, religiosity — all those things and everything that America represents.”

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When she finally completed the application process, the 76-year-old was filled with a sense of pride.

“I didn’t realize how profound a feeling it would be,” said Mirren. “It brought up feelings of patriotism that I didn’t think I had. I think it was to do with the intrinsic generosity of America.”