Helen Mirren fights to rescue stolen art in 'Woman in Gold'

Mon Mar 30, 2015 1:52pm EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Before Helen Mirren agreed to play elderly Jewish World War Two refugee Maria Altmann in the new film "Woman in Gold," the Academy Award-winning actress checked the last page of the screenplay to see if the character was there.

It's a trick Mirren learned early in her career. Altmann's character was at the end of the screenplay of the film about her life that opens in U.S. theaters on Wednesday.

"All the good roles are on the last page and if they are not on the last page, they have to have a good exit. I've always done that," Mirren, 69, said in an interview.

"If it just sort of disappears, it is a hopeless role. It is not worth doing. It is not worth reading the script."

The film tells the story of Altmann's against-the-odds battle with the Austrian government to regain paintings by artist Gustav Klimt that the Nazis stole from her family during World War Two.

The most famous of the works, "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I," was a 1907 oil and gold painting of Altmann's aunt.

"She was amazing. I wish I could have met her," Mirren said about the feisty Altmann, who died in 2011 at the age of 94. "It is a lovely story of triumph by an older woman. There are not many of those stories around."


Actress Helen Mirren arrives at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California in this January 11, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok