The star of Woman in Gold and The Audience on Broadway likes to make exercising as easy – and glam – as possible
Credit: David M. Benett/Getty

No pain, no gain when it comes to working out?

Not according to Helen Mirren.

The Oscar winner, 69, has what we certainly hope is the formula to looking incredible forever in a bikini.

“Buy yourself a fabulous workout outfit,” she says. “Put it on and do four sit ups and take it off and get in the shower.”

Okay, she’s joking – a little.

“My thing with exercise is start really easy, just so you only do three sit ups, you know?” she says in an interview featured in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. “Then do four next week and the next week do five. Start really easy.”

Mirren, whose new movie, Woman in Gold with Ryan Reynolds, opened Wednesday, says she is too busy to work out these days since she is now starring in The Audience on Broadway, playing Queen Elizabeth II. (She won an Oscar in 2007 for playing Elizabeth in The Queen.)

“I don’t go to the gym,” she says. “I’m trying to go.”

Whether she goes to the gym or not, Peter Morgan, who wrote The Audience and The Queen, thinks his longtime friend and colleague “always looks fabulous. She does the red carpet better than anyone I know.”

While Mirren takes her work very seriously “and is an actress at the height of her powers,” he tells PEOPLE, “she is very playful and naughty and loves the company of sexy men,” joking, “If she denies it, it’s a fat lie.”

“She is still very in tune with her own appeal and knows it. There’s not a flicker of impropriety there, but that button has not been turned off in that regard.”

For more from Helen Mirren, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday