"Not remotely romantic" ... Helen Mirren kisses her husband Taylor Hackford.

"Not remotely romantic" ... Helen Mirren kisses her husband Taylor Hackford. Photo: AFP

She is seen as something of a sex symbol, especially after the red bikini picture that emerged from a holiday five years ago, but Dame Helen Mirren has said that sex does not make marriages last.

The actress said that she and her husband were not "remotely romantic" and viewed Valentine's Day cards with horror.

I'd describe myself as a Christian who doesn't believe in God. 

Dame Helen, 67, stars in the film Hitchcock as Alma Reville, who was married to the Hollywood director for 53 years. The film deals with the sexless relationship between the pair as she supports him during his career. "People get together for reasons other than sex and, although it's important in the beginning for most couples, it's not what makes marriages last," Dame Helen told Women & Home magazine. "But I think the power of partnership in marriage is under-recognised in our society. That's what makes marriages work, not sex."

Heads up ... Helen Mirren as Alma Reville in a scene from the movie <i>Hitchcock</i>.

Heads up ... Helen Mirren as Alma Reville in a scene from the movie Hitchcock. Photo: Suzanne Tenner

Asked about love and her own marriage to Taylor Hackford, a director she met in 1984 when she starred in his film White Nights, Dame Helen said she would be "completely horrified" if he gave her a Valentine's card.

"Taylor and I aren't remotely romantic with each other," she said. "And actually we appreciate the lack of romance in the other person.

"I'd be completely horrified if Taylor gave me a Valentine's card. That's not our sort of relationship at all – we would pour cold water on that sort of thing.

"Not remotely romantic" ... actress Helen Mirren.

Spotlight ... Dame Helen has worked in film and theatre for more than 40 years. Photo: Reuters

"We even forget to get each other birthday presents – I'm always thinking the day before, 'Oh, I must get Taylor something for his birthday.' Without being corny, we try simply to be considerate to each other every day rather than lavishing each other with gifts."

The couple share homes in London and Los Angeles and spend long periods away from one another, which is described by Dame Helen as "important".

Despite missing her husband when she is away, she said distance "stops us taking each other for granted" and "gives us space".

English actress Helen Mirren, 22, at her Kings Cross hotel in Sydney. Mirren is in Australia to star in a film version of Norman Lindsay's once-banned novel 'Age of Consent' with James Mason, in Dunk Island, 20 February 1968.
SMH Picture by B. RICE

portrait, actress, actor, English, dress, fashion, entertainment, black and white, black & white, 1960s, sixties, full length, seated, sitting

Scanned by Photosales/www.fairfaxphotos.com

Sydney sojourn ... a 22-year-old Helen Mirren at her Kings Cross hotel in Sydney in 1968. She was making a film version of Norman Lindsay's novel Age of Consent. Photo: B. Rice

Dame Helen, who has worked in film and theatre for more than 40 years, also disclosed in the interview that she still gets stage fright.

She will shortly be back on stage in The Audience, a play about the private meetings held by the Queen with her prime ministers.

"I still suffer terribly from stage fright. I get sick with fear," she said. "Not every night, but at the beginning and on occasion – not necessarily when I'm expecting it."

Dame Helen first played the monarch in the 2006 film The Queen, which covers the aftermath of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The actress said she had been "determined" not to play the Queen again as she believes it is "dangerous" to return to a role, but changed her mind after meeting the play's cast and crew.

Asked whether she saw the Queen as a "tough cookie", she replied: "No, that's not how I think she is at all.

"I see her as emotional and quite vulnerable. And I also think she has the most fabulous sense of humour."

Dame Helen also shared her views on religion, saying she "can't help" being a Christian because she's British.

"I'd describe myself as a Christian who doesn't believe in God," she said.

"I can't help being Christian because I was brought up in Britain, and the morality of Christianity is part of the fabric of this country."

The actress said she "believed" in meditation but was "too lazy" to do it. Her new year resolutions, she said, were to go to the gym, lose weight and to stop procrastinating.

Hitchcock is in cinemas around Australia from January 10.

The Daily Telegraph