Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Mirren feared clowns and centipedes

Dame Helen Mirren had a fear of clowns as a child

Dame Helen Mirren has said her big childhood fear was clowns and that she still isn't sure about centipedes.

The actress, who voices terrifying headmistress Dean Hardscrabble in upcoming Pixar film Monsters University, said she was petrified of the children's entertainers when she was younger.

She said: "Clowns, they're scary, aren't they? I was terrified of clowns as a child, I've only just remembered that... I'm not very sure about centipedes but insects in general don't scare me."

Dame Helen also explained pretending not to be scared was her way of dealing with fear: "You get on with it and go, 'OK, I'm frightened, it's not the end of the world'... My fear is my business and nobody else's and I just deal with it. The other good thing is to pretend you're not frightened, act. Someone gave me that advice."

The Hitchcock actress revealed some of her best advice on fear had come from her own scary headmistress at school.

Admitting she had been terrified of the teacher "because she was a nun as well", she said: "She gave me the best advice I've ever had and I've lived by it ever since... she said, 'the thing to fear is fear itself'."

The award-winning screen star, who said she had started out in acting when top stars wouldn't sit at the same table as her and were "quite intimidating", said she hoped she didn't inspire the same fear in others.

She said: "Maybe people now look at me and go, 'oh, she's so scary'. You really don't want to be or feel that you are."

Monsters University is released in cinemas on July 12.

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