Dame Helen Mirren felt close to her ancestors while making 'The Last Station'.

The 64-year-old actress, who has been nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Sofya Tolstoy in the movie, admitted the period drama bought back memories for her.

She said: "The first day on set was magical. It was as if one of my grandparents' photos had come to life.

"It's in my blood. My great-great-grandmother was a Russian countess. That side of my family was Russian aristocracy, and the other was English working class. So I'm a good contradiction."

She also revealed she enjoyed the character of Sofya because of her "tempestuous" nature.

She added to S magazine: "She is a wonderfully tempestuous person and also very funny.

"She had given her life to Tolstoy's work - she copied 'War and Peace' out six times - think of the work! Sofya was simply fighting for what she is owed. It's a fabulous role."

Recently Helen admitted the beginning of her career in the 1970s was tough, and many wanted her to be a less serious actress.

She said: "The men in that era got away with such sexist c**p. It was constant. They were pushing me into being Barbara Windsor, that sort of carry on type."