Helen Mirren went to great lengths to be a part of the “Fast & Furious” franchise.

The 76-year-old is honoured in The Hollywood Reporter‘s Icon series and chats to the magazine about playing Queenie in 2019’s “Hobbs & Shaw” and “F9” after making her debut in 2017’s “The Fate of the Furious”.

She says when asked if it’s true that she asked Vin Diesel if she could star in the movies, “I didn’t ask, I begged! I think I was at some function, and he was there, and I got introduced to him. And I was shameless: ‘Oh God, I’d just love to be in one of your movies! Please let me be in it.’

“And then Vin, with that beautiful, deep voice of his, said: ‘I’ll see what I can do.’ And he did it for me. He found this great little role for me, which was perfect. I’d just never done anything like that before — one of those big, big movies. And, in my vanity, I just loved driving and really wanted to do my own driving in a fast car,” Mirren adds.

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Mirren also talks about being sexualized early on in her career as the reporter brings up that 1975 Michael Parkinson interview. Parkinson even asked whether her “equipment” hindered her success at one point.

Comparing the interview to a “Saturday Night Live” sketch, Mirren shares: “I used to think of it [being sexualized] as a sort of, a rather uncomfortable backpack that I was having to carry with me. But it was something I realized quite early on that I just had to deal with, had to accept and sort of carry on regardless. To not allow it to affect me. It wasn’t altogether detrimental — it was valuable in some ways. But, at the same time, it wasn’t really me. It was me in the sense that I looked the way I looked, and some people saw that in me.

“As I got older, I started to quite enjoy it, to play with my image. But when I was younger, it was really a pain in the butt, quite honestly. But I always said to myself: It’s the work that counts. I think that’s partly why, early in my career, I really concentrated on becoming, for lack of a better word, a classical actress. It’s the work that counts, so keep doing that sort of difficult, challenging work, and this other thing will hopefully drop away.”

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She says as the reporter mentions that she seems to “enjoy playing with that image” now, “Now, absolutely. I love to dress up — it’s fine. Now it’s absolutely fine. Because, you know, I’m much, much, much older. When you’re a young woman, especially in that era, being sexualized was the opposite of what I wanted. That or the opposite: ‘Oh, you’re not sexy at all.’ The whole attitude was just paralyzing. And absolutely enraging.”

Mirren shares of whether she thinks it’s different for young actresses now, “It’s absolutely different now. There are elements of it still, but I think — and I might be wrong about this — but I think young women have claimed that territory, their sexuality, for themselves. They’ve got the chins up about it, they don’t have to substitute for it or feel embarrassed about it. Sexuality used to be disempowering. Now I think maybe it’s empowering.”