British actress Helen Mirren was shown around Jerusalem and celebrated one of the most-loved writers during a trip to Israel this week.
The Oscar winning star, famed for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II, toured sites in the Israeli capital before she is set to host the Genesis Prize ceremony on Thursday.
On Monday, Mayor Nir Barkat bestowed the Jerusalem of Gold Award for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities to Mirren.
The award “recognizes outstanding individuals who have achieved worldwide renown for their inspirational work” and “have used their platform to positively impact the world”.
Barkat then took her to visit the City of David, an archaeological site of ancient Jerusalem, and said Mirren “has inspired millions through her artistic craftsmanship and devotion to bettering the world.”
The actress also joined British Ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey, at his residence to celebrate Shakespeare.
The pair helped launch ‘Mix the Play’, which is part of a global project to mark the 400th anniversary of his death.
The brainchild of the British Council in Israel, the initiative allows people to direct a scene from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, before sharing it online. It has so far been viewed by 750,000 people in 190 countries.
At the launch, Quarrey paid tribute to Dame Mirren’s contribution. He said: “Dame Helen is one of the world’s greatest actresses, with an extraordinary career in theatre, film and television, including many Shakespeare roles. She is also a long-standing friend of Israel.”
Dame Helen Mirren said: “My primary ambition was to be a theatre actress, a great theatre actress. I didn’t want to be film actress or a TV actress, I wanted to be a theatre actress. I pursued that goal and I joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and in my first four to five years I did nothing but Shakespeare. I’m a great believer that young people’s first experience of any of the greater writers in theatre should be at an experience in the theatre.”