Helen Mirren on the sci-fi futurism of Solos and her character’s Dior wardrobe
Solos, Amazon’s new sci-fi series, is unlike anything else on the small screen. Creator David Weil’s vision for the future unfolds through episodes that focus and feature a single performer. Familiar faces like Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Anthony Mackie and Constance Wu monologue through stylized sequences that combine to form an overarching narrative. While we’re used to seeing actors take the stage on Broadway alone, most TV shows and movies rely on a cast of characters. This stripped-down version of storytelling offers a new level of privacy for the audience, but it’s just as exciting for the performers. “Anything that turns the format upside down is interesting, isn’t it?” shared Mirren via Zoom. “At first I thought, oh, it’s a monologue, it’s just too much work. I don’t know if I’ll be good enough, but then I read the script, and thought, it’s such a beautiful piece of writing. There is such a sensitivity and understanding of a certain kind of woman, which is very recognizable.
It’s hard to imagine an acting scenario where Mirren wouldn’t be up to the task. As one of the most versatile stars in cinema, she has played everyone from Catherine the Great to a talented trained assassin. Yet she Solo character, Peg, feels like a start. Self-doubting and shy, she has spent her life apologizing for existing, but when the opportunity to see the galaxy presents itself, Peg decides to take her luck. Surprisingly, Mirren saw a bit of herself in the role. “When I read it I thought it was my British side of excuses, and it drives my husband crazy because he’s American and doesn’t understand it at all,” she says. “I identified with Peg. This part of me is the reason I became an actor. Many actors are extremely shy people who cannot handle the real world, but the way they [manage] is through performance. This gives them a portal through which they can engage. ”