Why Helen Mirren Doesn't Read Reviews Anymore, Good or Bad: 'I Found It Was Very Disruptive'

"The good ones gave you an unrealistic sense of how good you were," the star of The Duke told PEOPLE at a screening for the new movie

Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren. Photo: Arturo Holmes/Getty

Helen Mirren's upcoming movie The Duke has received positive reviews since premiering in North America at the Telluride Film Festival in 2020.

But the actress doesn't like to give that too much weight.

"When I was younger, I used to read reviews, but I found it was very disruptive — both the good ones and the bad ones," Mirren, 76, told PEOPLE at a special screening of The Duke in New York City on Wednesday.

"The good ones gave you an unrealistic sense of how good you were and the bad ones just destroyed you, so I don't read reviews," she adds.

But the Oscar winner concedes that reviews do give actors "a sense of how a film's been received," which she deems "incredibly important."

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Helen Mirren The Duke
Helen Mirren in The Duke (2022). Sony Pictures Classics/Moviestore/Shutterstock

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The Duke tells the true story of a 60-year-old taxi driver who stole Francisco Goya's portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in 1960s London.

Mirren tells PEOPLE she found herself drawn to the movie because of its "really well-written piece."

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"Also the director, Roger Michell, who has a wonderful body of work," Mirren offers as another reason why she signed on for The Duke.

"I cleared the decks for this one because I knew this was going to be a great experience," she says.

RELATED VIDEO: Helen Mirren Open Up Ahead of Her SAG Live Achievement Award: "I Feel I'm at the Pinnacle of My Career"

After shooting ended, Michell died in September 2021, at age 65. Mirren reflected on working with him while introducing The Duke at the Tribeca Screening Room Wednesday.

"He created a feeling of family on set, which I think is very much reflected in this film," the London native said. "It is a delightful film from a very delightful script. It's beautifully written but realized by Roger with the lightest of touches."

"Basically, it's a comedy. But in the middle of that comedy, there's a heart of tragedy, and I think what Roger did so brilliantly — I hope you'll agree with me when you watch the film — is tonally, there is no uncomfortable shift between the tragedy and the comedy of the film," Mirren shared. "It is one seamless thing, the way life is. Life is a sort of seamless mix between tragedy and comedy."

"And we all experience that," she added.

Roger Michell
Roger Michell. ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty

Mirren credited the British director with making The Duke's "ridiculous, crazy story" accessible to audiences.

"In the middle of this extraordinary story, there is just such a great feeling of humanity, and that was created by Roger," she said, noting that Michell's death "was a terrible shock."

"He died very suddenly of a heart attack very surprisingly and it was a great loss to the British film industry in particular, but to the film industry at large, as well," Mirren added.

The Duke opens in select cities April 22.

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