In a recent speech to Tulane graduates, Helen Mirren included among her "very practical do's and don'ts" — "Don't smoke tobacco…or chew it."
She also recounted this anecdote:
“A long, long time ago, an actress friend of mine did the most simple thing that taught me a huge lesson.
We were in the back seat of a car being driven to the location where we were filming, and she was a smoker, in the prehistoric days when you could smoke in a car, and she got her cigarettes out and before she lit up, she offered the driver one.
"So simple, but, you know? Thoughtful. To her, he wasn't a ‘driver person,’ but a ‘person person’ who might want a smoke.”
Mirren added: “Today she would probably be arrested for attempted murder but that’s a lesson I never forgot, and I am grateful to my actress friend to this day."
Ms. Mirren is in theaters now, co-starring in the film Anna (R) as KGB mentor to the latest of Hollywood's fashion-model-plus-assassin characters. Lionsgate publicists describe this one as a "striking beauty" with "indelible strength and skill."
The star of the movie (Sasha Luss) smokes on screen. But Academy Award-winner Helen Mirren smokes, too. In fact, Mirren graciously offers fifty tobacco incidents to the "person persons" in the audience — 63 percent of the film's total.
No surprise: This is a Luc Besson movie. Ninety percent of the Paris-based film producer's top-grossing films since 2002 have featured smoking.
Besson's films have included 500 tobacco incidents and delivered 3.7 billion tobacco impressions, There's smoking in at least a dozen of his kid-rated movies.
The Marlboro brand has appeared in more of Luc Besson's films than Helen Mirren. If only Ms. Mirren took another piece of her graduation advice: "Confront the bullies."
Thanks to Danielle Driscoll at Breathe California for relaying Ms. Mirren's Tulane remarks.