Dame Helen Mirren
From the age of 13, when she played Caliban in a school production of "The Tempest," Helen Mirren knew she wanted to become an actress. Despite her working-class upbringing and her less-than-supportive parents, Mirren emerged to become one of the most celebrated and decorated British actress of her time. With a combination of poise, confidence, intelligence and undeniable sex appeal, Mirren became famous for her challenging performances on stage and screen that often included removing her clothes, a public exhibition that sometimes stood in the way of her work. Nonetheless, Mirren turned in exquisite performances onstage with the Royal Shakespeare Company, before making her name in film and on television. But true stardom eluded her until she landed what became her signature role, playing a police inspector battling sexism and a troubled personal life in "Prime Suspect" (PBS, 1990), a role she returned to with frequency throughout the years. Mirren then reached the top of her game in 2006 when she won a slew of awards - including an Oscar - for her complex portrayal of Elizabeth II in "The Queen" (2006). Not only did Mirren affirm her status as a high-caliber actress, but she proudly relished the renewed attention to her undimmed allure, which aroused a new generation of fans accustomed to actresses less than half her age.