Helen Mirren has been a welcome addition to the Fast & Furious franchise and she finally gets behind the wheel for a chase sequence of her own in the ninth installment, something she’s been desperate to do since first boarding the series as Queenie. She serves as matriarch of the Shaw clan, parent to Jason Statham’s Deckard, Luke Evans’ Owen and Vanessa Kirby’s Hattie, and perhaps even wife to Michael Caine if Vin Diesel gets his wish.
It turns out that the stage and screen legend is also a dab hand at driving offscreen as well, after Liam Neeson revealed that it was Mirren who gave him his very first lesson. The two first met on the set of 1981’s medieval epic Excalibur, which was only the third acting role of Neeson’s career. They ended up in a relationship for several years, with Neeson crediting his then-partner for getting him an agent for the first time; they’ve remained close friends ever since.
In a new interview to promote his Netflix action thriller The Ice Road, the veteran star admitted that he didn’t learn how to drive until he was almost 30 and that it was Mirren who gave him a crash course once the Irishman had gained the necessary credentials to operate a vehicle in the United Kingdom.
“Helen and I formed a lovely friendship, I’m proud to say. But yeah, she taught me how to drive, yeah. Essentially.”
There are plenty of people out there who don’t, can’t, or won’t drive, but it can often be a huge hindrance for actors given that so many roles require them to speed around, pull sharp turns, or even do something as simple as reverse into a parking spot. Tying back to Fast & Furious, neither Michelle Rodriguez or Jordana Brewster had licenses when they signed on for the first film, and now we know that one of their most esteemed co-stars taught Liam Neeson the ropes.