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It’s hard to imagine a film more timely than Gavin Hood’s “Eye in the Sky,” which follows a high-ranking British military officer — Helen Mirren as the conflicted Colonel Katherine Powell — who is tasked with directing a top-secret drone operation. The tension-filled film sees Powell and her subordinates often struggling with the decisions they have to make while in pursuit of a band of terrorists in Kenya, a mission that is made all the more complicated when they are asked to target a kill zone that includes various innocent bystanders, including a young girl.
And, Mirren, as ever, is more than happy to discuss the kind of topical questions the film raises — and so much more — when asked about them. At a luncheon held in the film’s honor today at Manhattan’s Le Bernardin restaurant, Mirren and director Gavin Hood participated in a twenty minute chat moderated by Tina Brown about the many complicated aspects of the film and the story it tells.
But things really picked up steam when Brown asked Mirren her thoughts on the current “Trump Tapes” scandal enveloping presidential candidate Donald Trump, as Mirren was recently the subject of her own “found tapes” scandal, when a 1975 interview with Michael Parkinson was unearthed, one which showed Mirren gamely battling back a barrage of sexist comments from the talk show host.
“Where do you think the misogyny will ever end?,” Brown asked Mirren. “As someone who has played incredibly strong women and who is a strong woman and has lived through all this, what is your feeling now about this election in terms of the misogyny that we’ve seen?”
“Well, I think it’s dinosaurs,” Mirren answered. “I think they’re dying out, honestly. I think there are a few old dinosaurs left and I think that Mr. Trump is one of them. Enormous body, small head.”
Yet Mirren was optimistic about the forward motion of the world at large, particularly in the entertainment realm. “I feel, in the last ten years in particular, an amazing shift. Ten years ago, I don’t think I would have been cast in this movie,” she said.
Mirren wasn’t playing to the crowd, as the part of Colonel Powell was literally originally penned for an actor, and Hood later made the decision to give it some small tweaks in order to turn it into a part that Mirren could play. (He told the crowd that any “rewrites” to Guy Hibbert’s script to accommodate his choice were mainly focused on changing her first name, so gender-blind was the original work.)
“There’s been a real change in the last ten years, a groundswell,” Mirren said. “To me, what is the most exciting is to see women arriving behind the camera. Not just as great directors…but cinematographers, boom operators, in the electrics department. In all of the departments, suddenly you see one or two or three women on the set. That is the real change. That’s huge.”
When asked about the future of the world, Mirren was confident about things continuing to improve. “I’m a great optimist. I believe in the young, and I certainly believe in young women,” she said. “I think young women are entering into a very different world to the world I entered in, and I think they are going to take things absolutely for granted that are and must be a part of the landscape of their existence on this planet.”
Mirren, however, isn’t worried, telling the crowd: “I think the dinosaurs will die out.”
“Eye in the Sky” is currently available on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD.