Helen Mirren Explains Her 'Inexplicable' Chemistry with Vin Diesel: 'I Adore Him'

The Oscar winner and cover star of PEOPLE's 2022 Beautiful Issue talks about how her love for fast cars led to a role in Fast and Furious with Vin Diesel

Helen Mirren has a cardinal rule about being cast in a role — but she broke it once to work with Vin Diesel.

"I always [believed] they have to come to you, because if they don't, they don't really want you," says the cover star of PEOPLE's Beautiful Issue. "I've never asked for a role, even if it was a role I really wanted to play."

But that changed one night at a party. "I think it was at Nobu, and there was Vin. I love driving cars — I'm probably not a terribly good driver, but I've always sort of fancied myself as a fast driver — and I thought it would be so cool to be in a film that was just about fast driving," says the 76-year-old SAG Life Achievement Award recipient. "I saw Vin and introduced myself and shamelessly begged him to put me in one of his movies. He very sweetly did and I am eternally grateful to him."

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Despite wanting to drive fast, Mirren didn't get the chance when she debuted as Queenie in 2017's The Fate of the Furious.

"Of course I was not driving! That was the problem," she says with a laugh. "[They] put me in the back of an ambulance and I was imprisoned, totally not driving." That didn't last long. "Finally in the last one I got to drive," she says, speaking of F9.

RELATED GALLERY: Sneak a Peek at 9 Amazing Women from PEOPLE's 2022 Beautiful Issue

Helen Mirren Beauties Cover
Andrew Eccles

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Through filming on the franchise, she and Vin struck up their unlikely friendship. "Chemistry is inexplicable — it just is. You put two people together you think — and movies constantly make this mistake — oh, the chemistry's going to be fantastic! And then it's disastrous," she says.

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"Even very interesting people, people who have great chemistry offscreen to the extent of maybe, cough, excuse me, even having an affair or marrying each other, onscreen have no chemistry whatsoever. Whereas the most random people just have chemistry. And I adored Vin from the moment I met him."

Helen Mirren photographed at Milk Studios in LA , April 1st
Andrew Eccle

While Diesel has feuded with some of his F&F costars, he has nothing but love for Mirren.

"What makes Dame Helen Mirren so beautiful? I'll tell you," Diesel said when he learned she'd been named the cover star of PEOPLE's Beautiful Issue. "She has a charisma that is timeless. She has looks to kill and always has. She has a jovial spirit. But I think the thing that is most attractive about Dame Helen Mirren is the way she makes you feel. She always makes you feel appreciated and loved. And for that I love her forever."

For more on Helen Mirren's Beautiful Issue Cover Interview, pick up this week's PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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