Helen Mirren Poses Topless: Sex Symbol at 65

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

Helen Mirren first reminded us that ladies of a certain age can still be sexy when paparazzi snapped her on the beach in 2008. Her red bikini showcased the then 62-year-old actress' fit, curvy body. Now, in a new movie about the legendary Mustang Ranch, Mirren taps into her sexuality once again when she plays the brothel's madam.

"Love Ranch," directed by Mirren's husband, Taylor Hackford, opens June 30. In the movie, Mirren has a steamy sex scene with a man 30 years her junior.

Mirren's always been in touch with her sexual side: When she was a young actress performing at the Royal Shakespeare Company, one paper named her "Stratford's very own sex queen." She quickly grew comfortable with using her body to her advantage. In the 1969 movie Age of Consent, she took her clothes off to play a teenage girl who inspires an artist's work. In 1979's notorious Caligula, she participated in explicit sex scenes.

“A lot of it is plain, old-fashioned practicality. I wanted to work,” Mirren explained to New York magazine. “When I did Caligula, for example, I hadn’t really done movies.” Even though Caligula was a hair's breadth away from pornography, Mirren says she "much prefer[s] overt sexuality to sleazy, vulgar prurience.”

Perhaps that's why she chose to pose topless in the bath for New York's article on "Love Ranch." She stares unashamedly at the camera, rather than affecting coyness, or behaving like she's showing readers something "naughty." In another image, not shown here, she appears topless in the water.

Still, Mirren doesn't see herself as "a bad girl … I’m not a prude or a moralist and I never have been, but I’m too fearful, too much of a wimp, really.”

She was uncomfortable with her husband's suggestion that she do research for "Love Ranch" by spending a night at the Mustang Ranch. “I said, ‘Read my lips: I’m not going to spend a night in a brothel.’ ” Despite not having experienced the real thing, Mirren acclimatized to the sexual atmosphere on set in no time: “It’s amazing how quickly you get into dildos everywhere and pink-feather handcuffs. Within an hour you’re completely used to it.”