Helen Mirren Wanted to Do ‘Hundred-Foot Journey’ in French

Helen Mirren Laurence Olivier Awards - P 2013
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Helen Mirren Laurence Olivier Awards - P 2013

The actress shot scenes in English and French, but says most Americans "will not accept films with subtitles"

As DreamWorks' culinary comedy-drama The Hundred-Foot Journey opens in the U.K. following a successful run in the U.S., star Helen Mirren has revealed that she was initially hoping to play the role of restaurateur Madame Mallory in French.

Speaking to The Guardian, Mirren said that the opportunity to speak French in front of the camera was one of the main reasons for her to choose the film.

“I speak pretty good French, and was very excited about finally being able to do a film in French,” she said. But in the final cut, her character uses what she called "Frenglish," a heavily accented English with a smattering of French words.

“The reality is that it’s a Disney movie," Mirren said. "The other reality is that the vast American public will not accept films with subtitles. People in Ohio have to go and see the movie."

She added that she fought “very hard and argued very passionately” for French to be used. Said Mirren: “I shot most scenes in French and in English, hoping they would use the French. But they didn’t. But I did poke in as much French as I could.”

Produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey and directed by Lasse Hallstrom (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Chocolat), The Hundred-Foot Journey also stars Om Puri, Manish Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon. It opened in the U.S. on Aug. 8 and has so far grossed more than $40 million.