Even the comedies she does have an element of class, like Trumbo and Calendar Girls. No wonder everyone was surprised to learn that she has been cast in the next Fast and Furious movie.

But it's not that surprising, really. Mirren also has a history in the thriller genre. She became a star playing Detective Jane Tennison in five series of Prime Suspect, and has also seen action in political thrillers like State of Play, The Debt and most recently Eye in the Sky, plus Excalibur and two RED movies. Retired and Extremely Dangerous, indeed.

Helen Mirren in 2016 at MOMA

So in an interview last year, it shouldn't have been a surprise when she said, "My great ambition is to be in a Fast and Furious movie. I so want to be a mad driver in a Fast and Furious movie! My claim to fame is I always do my own driving. I was on Top Gear, and I did my lap in a very good time. I keep putting it out there, and they never ask me."

Then she furthered her cause by talking about the franchise's leading man: "I have to say Vin Diesel is brilliant. I love Vin Diesel. He's a great guy, smart, I love him. It's partly because of him I'd like to be in one, but also the driving."

And sure enough, Diesel and the franchise's producers took note, casting her in Fast 8, which is currently in production. Her role has yet to be announced, but social media is abuzz with speculation that she'll play the mother of Jason Statham and Luke Evans' characters, the Shaw brothers. 

Mirren turns 71 next month, and intends to keep mixing up genres in her filmography. As she said this week, "I want to be making film and theatre, but film is particularly relevant. I like it to be serious. Of course, having said that I'm about to do Fast and Furious 8, but that's for the fun of it. So maybe that's what I want as well, some fun and some relevant, serious, important movies too."