Helen Mirren MasterClass Review In 2024 – Legit? Worth It?

When you buy through my affiliate links I earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Before you start reading, there is something you need to know about me. I have been a fan of Helen Mirren’s writing for a long time, so I was thrilled to discover her MasterClass in Acting. She has captivated audiences with her diverse roles for years, from the young Queen Elizabeth to the iconic detective Jane Tennison. Her ability to transform and embody characters is genuinely inspiring.

As a drama student, I constantly seek opportunities to refine my craft. Learning directly from such a celebrated actress was too good to pass up. Intrigued by the opportunity to learn (semi) directly from such a legend, I signed up for this MasterClsss, looking to expand my acting skills (beyond the four walls of my drama study). I was eager to gain insights from Ms. Mirren. 

I dived headfirst into this class, notebook in hand, ready to bask in the glory of Helen Mirren’s brilliance. I hoped that her class would deliver on its promises. (Spoiler alert: it did not disappoint.)

This review will discuss this course’s content, structure, and key takeaways. I will also judge the overall value of the course for aspiring actors like myself (because there are other classes on acting available from the likes of Natalie Portman).

Helen Mirren MasterClass Review Quick Summary:

If you are short on time, here is a quick summary you’ll know.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Bring characters to life
  • Blend the art of theatre, dance, and magic
  • Overcome stage fright and performance anxiety
  • Nail that audition with refined acting skills
  • Refine your diction and voice study

Time Duration 

This class is 6 hours and 17 minutes long.

Pros 

  • Learn from a critically and commercially successful actor 
  • Well-structured lesson plan with her experience
  • Real-life examples from her past and present
  • There are tons of additional resources and an exceptional supplemental guidebook

Cons 

  • Sit-down class format (no demonstration)
  • Not beginner-friendly (you need some acting experience to follow her advice)
  • Her suggestions can be vague at times 

Recommendation 

As a personal fan, I was utterly enthralled by her MasterClass. Her course is exceptionally well-structured and masterfully presented, and her strategies and tips are invaluable for any budding actor. I recommend this class to people beginning their acting journey (with some minor experience) and needing guidance on making it in such a competitive industry. You will also enjoy this class if you are a fan of her work and want to know more about her journey.

Helen Mirren MasterClass Review In 2024

Helen Mirren MasterClass

Who is Helen Mirren?

Dame Helen Mirren’s career stretches back over six decades, and she has captured audiences with her remarkable performances. Her mantelpiece groans under the weight of accolades, including the coveted Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Actress, four Primetime Emmy Awards, and a Tony Award. This achievement of the prestigious “Triple Crown of Acting” signifies her exceptional talent across film, television, and theater stages. There’s no denying that Dame Helen Mirren is a master of her craft.

What truly sets Dame Helen apart is her unparalleled versatility. She possesses the remarkable ability to transform herself entirely by embodying characters. Check out her youthful portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in “The Queen,” a performance that brims with regal grace. Then, compare it to the tenaciousness she brings to Detective Jane Tennison in “Prime Suspect.” This range is a testament to her in-depth understanding of character development and portrayal.

Helen’s experience extends far beyond the silver screen. Her career began on the stages of the Royal Shakespeare Company, where she refined her craft in the demanding world of classical theater. This early foundation and her success in iconic film roles allow her to offer a wealth of knowledge and insights into various acting styles and techniques. 

There’s an undeniable power in learning from someone who has earned respect within the acting community through hard work and sheer determination. The opportunity to glean knowledge from such an inspiring figure is invaluable for all aspiring actors. Her guidance will provide practical skills and inspiration to strive for excellence, a vital quality for anyone hoping to leave their mark on the stage and screen (just like her).

Who should get Helen Mirren MasterClass?

Helen Mirren’s MasterClass is ideal for aspiring actors of various levels who want to boost their acting careers. However, some people would benefit more from this class:

Drama Students: This course offers a unique opportunity for anyone currently enrolled in drama programs to learn from a living legend. Mirren’s insights can complement classroom learning and provide a real-world perspective on acting.

Aspiring Actors: Whether you’re just starting out or have some experience, this class presents a solid foundation in core acting techniques. Mirren’s focus on character development, script analysis, and stage presence can be invaluable for actors at any stage in their careers.

Fans of Helen Mirren: Even if you’re not actively pursuing acting, Mirren’s video lessons provide a fascinating glimpse into her creative process. It is an exclusive chance to witness her approach to acting and storytelling and can be a source of inspiration for any fan.

In short, anyone with a passion for acting and a desire to learn from Helen Mirren can benefit from Helen Mirren’s MasterClass. Her wealth of experience and clear teaching style make it a worthwhile resource for aspiring actors on their journey to greatness.

Also, check:

What does Helen Mirren MasterClass cover?

Helen Mirren teaches acting, which is 6 hours and 17 minutes long and is by no means a short class. In fact, it is amongst the longest MasterClasses of all time. It is divided into 28 video lessons (including a bonus chapter). It covers an extensive subject (acting), so I can understand why it is so lengthy. Helen Mirren is a delight; six hours will pass in a breeze. Her screen presence is as captivating as her personality, and you will not want to take your eyes off her. 

Like all the courses on MasterClass, this class also comes with a 54-page supplemental guidebook and a recommendation for additional resources that you can go through later.

MasterClass is a platform of learning with a thriving community of passionate people. You can engage with fellow enthusiasts, share your ideas, and get your burning questions (sometimes) answered by the instructors themselves.

The lesson plan is as follows:

  1. Introduction 
  2. Helen’s Journey in the Theatre
  3. Evolving as a Theatre Sctress
  4. Choosing Roles
  5. Breaking Down a Script
  6. Shakespeare, Part 1
  7. Shakespeare, Part 2
  8. Finding your Character 
  9. Research: Fictional Characters
  10. Research: Real Characters
  11. Creating Characters: Costume, Part 1
  12. Creating Characters: Costume, Part 2
  13. Creating Characters: Hair and Makeup, Part 1
  14. Creating Characters: Hair and Makeup, Part 2
  15. Preparation and Rehearsal
  16. Human Behavior 
  17. Film Acting Technique, Part 1
  18. Film Acting Technique, Part 2
  19. Film Acting Technique, Part 3
  20. Case Study: Prime Suspect
  21. Case Study: Elizabeth 1
  22. Case Study: The Queen
  23. Acting on a Film Set
  24. Characterizing the Set
  25. Props 
  26. Working with Writers and Directors
  27. Conclusion 
  28. Bonus: Naturalism  

Summarizing the Lessons from Helen Mirren MasterClass

Even though Helen Mirren requires no introduction, the class starts with an introduction segment. She walks on the stage gracefully and demonstrates one of the hardest things an actor has to do in front of a camera: walk naturally.

Mirren reminisces about her past and what led her to pursue acting as a career. She started her professional acting journey by working in an amateur production of Hamlet, which made her fall in love with Shakespearean plays and the stage. She was part of an experimental theatre group, where she learned voice training, physicality, and control. She shares her experience, and it is pretty insightful.

She offers advice on choosing roles and shares her unique way of assessing a role. She teaches breaking down a script and mentions that it is a very personal process. You learn Helen’s tricks for efficiently practicing a large volume of material and experience the joy of discovering your character’s dialogue in your own mouth.

Helen then brings out her favorite Shakespearean monologues from (Portia’s) Merchant of Venice and (Our Revels) The Tempest and explains her process of breaking down long dialogues. She has never performed this before, and seeing her perform these parts with such reverence was inspiring.

Mirren emphasizes the significance of drawing inspiration from the world around you for your characters and doing your research (fictional in prose and poems) and natural (in the world) to understand your character better and play it with emotional depth and relatability.

As someone who has worked in period dramas and has spent her life working with Shakespearean plays, Helen explains the importance of costume, hairstyles, and makeup and how each has a story to tell. Selecting the perfect costume for your character to resonate with your audience and give a memorable performance is essential.

According to Mirren, practice and rehearsal are the key to a successful performance. She suggests getting a dialect coach to help you with accents and voice training. She points out the necessity of understanding human behavior and aspects, as it is a valuable tool you will require throughout your acting journey.

Helen focuses on giving tips on mastering camera techniques to dive deep into your character. She explains the nitty-gritty of working a camera and how to maximize your screen time. You will learn to drop into character right before a take, stay grounded in your process, and perform best amid distractions on set.

To discuss the need for close-up shots and how you can play with the subtleties of acting, Mirren takes the example of her very first episode of Prime Suspect. Close-up shots allow actors to show their character’s emotions and thoughts without putting words on them. The following example she takes is from “Elizabeth 1” to explain the two-track acting approach, where you play the emotional scene in real-time while always working the camera and its position. She dissects her scene, where she is giving a poignant message to the troops. This lengthy dialogue is part of a historical speech, but she adds her modern twist to it to make it more appealing.

Wrapping up her MasterClass, Helen talks about her experience working in front of the camera and how it helped her be a better actress. She also explains how you can use your set and props to add depth to your characters. Mirrenadvises creating a healthy relationship with writers and directors and shares her lessons from working with Robert Altman (a renowned director) on the film Gosford Park. Lastly, she gives a parting suggestion to all the budding actors always to choose their roles wisely as their characters will always be a reflection of them.

Key Points I am taking away from Helen Mirren MasterClass:

As I mentioned earlier (probably too often at this point), I am a drama student and an aspiring actor. When I heard Helen Mirren would record a MasterClass, I immediately signed up for it. This class is one of the longest and most detailed I have ever encountered on the platform. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate the depth and longevity and understand why it is required. I was utterly hooked throughout the course and never found a dull moment.

Helen provides a solid foundation for all aspiring actors (like me) by elaborating on dialogue techniques and dissecting the script. The introduction set the tone for the class, and I appreciated the directness.

I was most inspired by her tips for researching the characters but with a twist. Unlike most actors, who ask you to find inspiration from real people, Helen suggested going through old prose and poems and taking your inspiration from those characters. This was a refreshing idea that I plan on using in the future.

As a budding stage actor, costume and makeup were always boring parts for me, and I had to go through them to do something I enjoyed (acting). Still, Mirren taught me how to use my costume and makeup (and even set and props) to add a certain flair and personality to my character. Since then, I have actively engaged in the process of choosing costumes and makeup styles for my character.

The highlight of this class for me was Helen breaking down her approach to delivering her iconic “Elizabeth 1” speech and how she involved the extra actors to reach her level of performance to elevate the scene from mundane to mind-blowing completely. This trick taught me to respect my co-actors and extras on stage and how to work with them to give unforgettable performances.

Helen’s advice was a revelation, and I will try to incorporate it into all my future performances.

What did I Like about Helen Mirren’s MasterClass?

Helen Mirren’s MasterClass is an inspiring journey into the world of acting. I loved everything about this class, but a few aspects stood out to me.

Learning from a Legend: I dreamed of learning directly from Helen Mirren. She gave me insights into character development, script analysis, and (most importantly) how to truly inhabit a role. This class was like having a private acting session with the legend of acting.

Structured Approach: The MasterClass is well-structured, with clear breakdowns of core acting techniques. Mirren starts by explaining the fundamentals of acting, then delves deeper into areas like scene work and building stage presence. This step-by-step approach was a fantastic way to build a solid foundation.

Engaging Delivery: Although she is a renowned star, Helen Mirren’s teaching style is down-to-earth and engaging. She explains things clearly, with a touch of humor (which is always a plus!). Learning complex concepts can be intimidating, but her approachable style made the process enjoyable.

Supplemental Materials: This course has great extras, like downloadable workbooks (54 pages) and Q&A sessions. You can reference a list of additional resources to reinforce the lessons and get personalized feedback from like-minded people (or at least feel like part of a larger acting community).

Unique Advice: Beyond the technical aspects, Helen Mirren’s unique perspective on the acting world had me completely floored. Her stories from her long career, tips for dealing with nerves, and insights into the industry were invaluable nuggets of wisdom for an aspiring actor like me.

High Production Quality:  MasterClass is known for its professional productions, and they did not disappoint. Crisp visuals, clear audio, and well-edited content made the learning experience smooth and engaging.

Conclusion

If you are tired of stuffy drama class lectures, then Helen Mirren Teaches Acting will be an engaging experience for understanding the nuances behind acting. Helen has several award-winning roles under her belt, and this class was also one of her standing-worthy performances.

This course is not all theory. It explores scene work, giving you a glimpse into her process of living and breathing life into any character. Watching her break down a script and build a character from the ground up is pure magic. Plus, a healthy dose of her signature wit is sprinkled throughout, keeping the learning process light and enjoyable.

The additional resources, like downloadable workbooks and community forums, were a welcome bonus. They allowed me to connect with other aspiring actors, fostering a sense of camaraderie. The high production quality made the experience all the more immersive.

So, was it worth it? 

Absolutely!

Helen Mirren’s MasterClass isn’t just a course; it’s an investment in your future acting career. If you are passionate about acting (like me), this MasterClass should be on top of your to-watch list.

Leave a Comment