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Mirren savours tasty new role

Dame Helen Mirren prepared for her latest role as a fierce French restaurant owner by forcing her co-star to eat snails

The actress, who plays Madame Mallory The Hundred-Foot Journey, stars opposite veteran Indian actor Om Puri in the film where they play rival restaurateurs in a small French town.

Dame Helen said the cast, which also includes American actor Manish Dayal as Puri's on-screen son, bonded over meals.

She took Dayal out for a three-hour-long feast when they first met and said : "I forced Manish to eat escargots, snails, for the first time in his life".

Dayal was also a guest at regular meals cooked by Puri for his film family, with Dame Helen revealing: "Then he cooked for the rest of us as well. He'd bring incredible little bowls full of fantastic food he'd prepared the night before for all of us so Om really was the glue that held us all together".

Dame Helen, who said her cooking skills extended to "an incredible baked beans on toast", said she based the character of her tough, French business woman on two real-life women - one French and one English.

She said: "T o meet these people, just to understand the level of commitment they have to make. It's a 24-hour, seven days a week commitment, truly a life's commitment to this kind of work".

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