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Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen discuss The Good Liar and why acting is a form of "therapy"

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Dame Helen Mirren and Sir Ian McKellen are two of the UK's finest actors. So, what better to talk to them about than acting? 

Sitting down with GamesRadar+ and Total Film, the duo – while promoting their new film The Good Liar – spoke about their craft at length. Perhaps the most surprising revelation came when the pair were asked whether, considering their long careers and sheer amount of experience, they still find anything about acting difficult. 

"The emotional stuff is very difficult, you have to gear yourself up for it," says Mirren. "It's painful, especially if the scene is painful. I remember once, doing a film with Robert Redford a long time ago [2004's The Clearing], and it was the last scene. He was playing my husband and I had been kidnapped. He was dead and so it was very emotional. 

"My brother had died a couple of years before, and I had suppressed that, because I had kept on working. So I hadn't ever really confronted it. And because I was having to confront the loss of my husband in this movie, suddenly the memory or the realisation of losing my brother hit me like an express train in the shot. It was very extraordinary and absolutely devastating."

McKellen went on to add: "Acting is a sort of therapy. You are stirring up things you would normally keep down. In the end it's healthy."

The duo also spoke about why it's hard to play a character who's lying, as being an actor you're already lying about being someone else. Watch the full interview below.

The Good Liar is in UK cinemas now and reaches US theaters November 15.

I'm the Entertainment Editor over here at GamesRadar+, bringing you all the latest movie and TV news, reviews and features. I look after all the Total Film and SFX articles that end up on the website and am in charge of their Twitter accounts. So if you see one of them suddenly Tweeting about Lord of the Rings being the best movie series of all time, that's probably me...