I had the honor and pleasure of hosting Helen Mirren’s handprint and footprint ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theater on Monday, the 202nd such event since 1927. Mirren is the 251st person to be so honored, and she couldn’t have been more grateful, or more charming. She told me, and then told the gathered crowd, that like everyone else who comes to Hollywood, she visited the famous forecourt years ago and never dreamed that she would someday be represented there. She counts it as one of the three great events of her career, following her naming as a Dame of the British Empire and her winning the Oscar several years ago. Now, she admitted, she’s “just one of the dames on Hollywood Boulevard.”
As befits an actress of her creative bent, Mirren put her own spin on the ritual by—
—crossing her legs in the cement—in high heels, no less. At first she needed help to find her balance but then stood unassisted, to the cheers of her family, friends and fans.
There was also an unplanned bit of whimsy when a gold bracelet fell off her wrist and landed in the cement, where it made a light imprint that will remain, and probably cause some curiosity among future visitors.
Her Arthur costar Russell Brand provided an amusing, irreverent and ultimately adoring introduction to the actress, noting that the vintage stars represented in cement aren’t immortal because, in point of fact, they’re dead. He added that it was difficult for him to concentrate on his speech because directly in his line of vision, across Hollywood Boulevard, was the sign for the local Hooters restaurant!
Because the dip into cement ruins any pair of shoes, Mirren decided to auction hers off for charity afterwards, a gesture befitting this most gracious honoree.