Dame Helen Mirren thinks that The Duke is a fitting finale for Roger Michell

Dame Helen Mirren thinks that The Duke is a fitting finale for Roger Michell

Dame Helen Mirren believes that 'The Duke' is a fitting final film for Roger Michell.

The 76-year-old actress plays Dorothy Bunton in the art caper – which was the final movie made by the 'Notting Hill' director before his death last September – and feels that it is an appropriate finale to his directing career.

Helen told The Guardian newspaper: "This is his last film. And it's a wonderful film to be his last because it carries within it all his strengths as a filmmaker. His brilliant technique. His warmth as a person. His wonderful understanding of life and humanity.

"And we all recognised that as we were making it. We all knew that we were in Roger's film."

The 1960s set movie also stars Jim Broadbent as Kempton Bunton – a man who stashed Goya's portrait of the Duke of Wellington at his home in Newcastle as part of a scheme to secure free TV licences for pensioners in Britain – and the star admits that the director's passing adds poignancy to the film.

Jim, 72, said: "This is the last chance to celebrate what a brilliant director Roger was, and what a wonderful person he was. That makes me want to promote the film more than I would normally want to promote a film.

"I want to put it out there and remember what we did. I want to tell people about it. To tell them about him."

'The Duke' was filmed over two years ago but is only being released next week due to the coronavirus pandemic and co-writer Clive Coleman believes the meaning behind the movie has shifted over the course of the global health crisis.

He said: "The film doesn't change. What's changed is the emphasis of the message and how that is read by the public.

"Because when we started shooting, the idea that Kempton speaks to in the film – that a society is only as strong as its weakest link – might have seemed a bit abstract.

"We couldn't know that we were moving into two years of Covid, death and insecurity, where our society would be judged on a daily basis by how well it protects its oldest and most vulnerable. So that journey is fascinating. It somehow makes the film feel more trenchant."