Romantic movies? Not Helen Mirren's cup of tea

LOS ANGELES Fri Jul 2, 2010 3:16pm EDT

Cast member Helen Mirren smiles at the premiere of the movie ''Love Ranch'' at the Arclight theatre in Los Angeles June 23, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Cast member Helen Mirren smiles at the premiere of the movie ''Love Ranch'' at the Arclight theatre in Los Angeles June 23, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Twilight" is likely not very high on Helen Mirren's movie list. Because, when it comes to romance on film, the Oscar winner just doesn't like it.

In that way, Mirren said, she feels more like a man.

"I don't really like romantic movies very much...And I hate talking about feelings, so I'm definitely a man in disguise," Mirren told Reuters when talking about her new "Love Ranch."

The film, in which the Oscar winner portrays the owner of a Nevada brothel, began playing nationwide in the United States this week when most all movie eyes are focused on the launch of "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," about a teenager and the vampire she loves.

The "Twilight" movies, of course, have been huge hits, raking in $1.1 billion over two films with romance that tugs at the heartstrings of their mostly young, female audiences.

Hearing her, the 64 year-old Mirren is not among them.

"I don't even really like seeing people kiss in movies," she said. "This movie is about as romantic as I can handle."

"Love Ranch," a low-budget independent movie, does have at its heart a romance between Grace (Mirren) and her husband Charlie Bontempo (Joe Pesci), but it is a mature one that has grown complicated over the years -- as love has a way of doing the older one gets.

Set in the 1970s, the story tells how Grace and Charlie's lives change when she learns she has cancer and a new man, a South American boxer, comes to train at their "Love Ranch" brothel because Charlie wants to manage his career.

The backdrop, of course, is the sex-filled house of prostitution that Grace and Charlie run, but the depth of the tale lies in how sex is an act and love an emotion, as well as a commitment. It's sort of "Twilight" for an older generation.

"This is about people, and it's about people discovering, people thought they could never discover an inner life, an emotional life -- and actually getting there." said the film's director, Taylor Hackford, who is Mirren's real-life husband.

HUSBAND AND WIFE

Hackford, 65, who was nominated for an Oscar for his 2004 biopic of soul singer Ray Charles, "Ray," calls Mirren "the sexiest woman in the world."

The two have enjoyed a 26-year relationship, and Hackford said that what most attracted him to her was not her looks but her "fearlessness, the fact that she goes in and gets it."

"She doesn't do it with a lot of hi-jinks, it's just this face...when it's in the eyes and in the fact, (actors) don't have to say words, that's it," he said.

In fact, working without saying much -- utilizing her eyes and a stoic expression that tilted ever so slightly toward emotion -- was exactly what helped Mirren win her best actress playing Queen Elizabeth II in "The Queen."

She has been nominated three other times, for "Gosford Park" (2001), "The Madness of King George" (1994), and just this past year for "The Last Station."

"Love Ranch" will not likely find her back on Oscar's stage. The film has received mostly negative reviews, registering only a 15 percent positive rating on website rottentomatoes.com.

Still, she did get to make love with a man 30 years her junior -- with her husband watching.

Asked if that was uncomfortable to film, she said "It was fine, on the contrary."

"He, as a director with stuff like that, does exactly what a director should do, which is be utterly practical and straightforward about it," Mirren said.

(Additional reporting by Phil Furey; Editing by Jill Serjeant)

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