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The award-winning actress' new project explores her family's White Russian background
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Helen goes back to Russia with love to film her family's story

14 SEPTEMBER 2007

When Dame Helen Mirren read letters written by her émigré grandfather to his family back in revolutionary Russia she wept. Now a screen dramatisation is due to bring the world of those moving documents to the big screen, with the Oscar-winning actress in the lead role as Ilyena, the great aunt after whom she was originally christened.

"(It's) one of the most exciting things I've done – ever," was how Dame Helen summed up the experience. The 62-year-old thesp added that watching another actress playing her as a little girl was "very emotional".

The as-yet-untitled project is based on a BBC radio play The Mironov Legacy by novelist Helen Dunmore, who wrote the script after Helen gave her the letters.

As a slice of personal history, the flick will give fascinating insights into the tumultuous period when the Bolsheviks swept to power in 1917. While her taxi driver grandfather eked out a life for himself in London, his six sisters stayed in Moscow, surviving the Communist plunder of their lands and the harsh conditions during the German invasion of WWII.

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