Dame Helen Mirren has revealed she once took her two American stepsons to a drag club to introduce them to British culture.
The Oscar-winning actress joked that her husband Taylor Hackford’s sons Rio and Alexander were “slightly in shock” when she showed them around the popular gay entertainment venue the Vauxhall Tavern years ago.
Dame Helen, 74, told The Graham Norton Show: “There’s a real historic tradition of drag in London and I was growing up and first came to London on a Friday night there was often a drag show.
“There is a very famous drag pub – the Vauxhall Tavern – and when I first got together with my husband he had two young sons.
“I thought it would show these two young Californian boys something of the real London, so I took them to the Vauxhall Tavern.”
She added: “These poor kids were slightly in shock but they certainly remember it as being very cool. It was cool, and I love my London.”
Dame Helen married filmmaker Hackford in 1997 following a nine-year relationship, having first met on the set of the film White Nights.
Dame Helen will next appear as 18th century Russian monarch Catherine The Great in a new Sky Atlantic period drama.
On her own Russian heritage, she said: “You don’t have small talk in a Russian household. You talk about the soul and whether there is a God. You talk about deep philosophical stuff, so when I grew up and left home I found it almost impossible to talk.”
The screen star, whose father was Russian, added: “I would have found it impossible to sit here and not talk about really heavy stuff. It’s great now, I’ve learnt!”
The Oscar-winning actress’ drag club revelation was prompted after she was given a drag name by RuPaul Charles on the chat show.
Charles, who will star in the new UK version of his global hit series RuPaul’s Drag Race from next week on BBC Three, told Dame Helen that she could be called “Sir Lady Cheek Bones”.
Dame Helen and Charles were joined on Norton’s show by comedian Jack Whitehall and documentary filmmaker Simon Reeve, as well as Danish pop band Alphabeat.
The Graham Norton Show is on BBC One at 10.35pm, Friday September 27.