Dame Helen Mirren once ‘told off’ a bear and it’s the most British thing ever

Helen Mirren once 'told off' a bear that came exploring near her Lake Tahoe home though she did have a back-up plan

Helen Mirren once told off a bear in Tahoe. Seen here she attends the “Shazam! Fury of the Gods" photocall
(Image credit: Photo by Dave J. Hogan/Getty Images)

Helen Mirren once “told off” a bear at her Nevada home and her scolding response is what you might expect from a British Dame. 

Dame Helen Mirren might have a US home, but she remains one of the most fabulous British icons and one of less than twenty actors to have played the late Queen Elizabeth II on screen. She’s known for being open and effortlessly cool, confessing she loves “amazing” Liam Neeson deeply in a candid interview about their former relationship and being one of the stars to rock the blue gray hair trend of summer 2023. 

Now Helen has shared another brilliant anecdote about life with her husband Taylor Hackford. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Helen described her rather strict response when a young black bear came exploring about her Lake Tahoe home. 

Helen Mirren attends the "Jeanne du Barry" Screening

(Image credit: Photo by Gisela Schober/Getty Images)

She apparently ignored Taylor’s advice to be cautious and instead slid the back door open in order to shout, “Naughty bear! Naughty bear!” at the animal. 

This almost British governess-style reaction might come as a surprise to some and certainly wouldn’t be everyone’s reaction if a bear came sniffing around their home. But the hilariously proper scolding of the bear is something that clearly worked as it apparently “scampered” away. Meanwhile, Helen explained that she was the one reassuring her husband and that whilst she appreciates their “strength and power” she wasn’t “scared”. 

“I told [Taylor], ‘Don’t be scared. It’s just a bear,’” Helen shared. “And it was a young bear, not a huge, great grizzly.” 

A black bear staring at the camera in Yellowstone National Park

(Image credit: Troy Harrison via Getty)

The Yellowstone 1923 prequel star then smiled at the memory before describing how she “love[s]” seeing bears in the wild and that she had a back-up plan.

“But I did tell him off. And if he decided to make a run for me, I could simply jump back in the house,” she said. “I’m not underestimating their strength and power, but I do love seeing them. They’re extraordinary.”

But whilst the telling off and scolding turn-of-phrase might be considered quite a British thing, Helen did admit that she generally doesn’t consider herself to be quite so “proper” or fit the stereotype of English reserve. And the way Helen Mirren once “told off” a bear does seem to attest to that!

Helen Mirren attends the Ora! Film Festival

(Image credit: Photo by Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for Paramount+)

“I’m not like that. But you can make fun of me for being like that,” she said good-naturedly and when it was put to her that filmmakers reach out to her when they want an “erudite, oh-so-proper model of English reserve”, she apparently laughed and insisted it was “so, so not true”. 

Helen received US citizenship in 2017 and has been married to her American husband Taylor since 1997, though they’d been together for 11 years before that. Discussing the secret to their romance, Helen explained that they are both supportive of the other going off to pursue their interests and that lockdown was actually very enlightening for them both.

Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford attend the Los Angeles Premiere of Paramount+'s "1923"

(Image credit: Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty)

Helen smilingly divulged, “With the result that actually in a long marriage, we’ve spent very little time together. That was one nice thing about Covid - you couldn’t go anywhere. So we’d have to be with each other every night. It was kind of a test, because we’d never done that for six months.”

She revealed that it was “great” and gave her and Taylor a “real anchor”. Although it wasn’t like they didn’t have an anchor or “feel committed”, Helen declared that it “solidified the fact that [they] are put together. This works.” 

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!