We Asked Helen Mirren What She Told Jane Fonda Backstage at the Oscars

Mar 7, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. ET
Image: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

There were many empowering moments at the 90th Academy Awards on Sunday evening — among them the time two iconic women in entertainment, Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren, walked across the stage (hand in hand, no less!) to present the award for Best Actor.

More: 23 Beautiful Moments You Missed During the 2018 Oscars

The gravitas of the moment was not lost on anyone watching. Here were two women who have only gotten more vibrant and sharp with passing years and have proven your relevance in no way diminishes as you age.

Yes, those thoughts flooded our minds: awe, respect, solidarity. But, also, please tell us these female forces-to-be-reckoned-with are friends. Can you imagine being part of that social circle? Oh, to dream.

Accordingly, we couldn't resist asking Mirren that very question when we had the chance to chat with her a few days after the Oscars festivities. Full disclosure: Her answer will only further the major fan-girlfriend-ing that Fonda and Mirren's moment on Sunday started.

"I don't know Jane well — she lives in a far more heightened world than I have ever reached, if you know what I mean," Mirren told us. "But she is someone I really have admired a long time. She is an inspiration, and was an inspiration to younger women when she was a younger woman. She was so fierce, so committed, so courageous... talk about an activist, you know? She is an amazing woman."

Although Mirren explains they haven't had the privilege of spending much time together prior to this point, she's holding out hope that will change now.

"I did tell her that before we went onstage. I just wanted to communicate to her how much respect I had for her and, indeed, love for her. And she was so lovely and so sweet. So I hope we stay friends now," Mirren revealed.

More: A Photographic Diary of Jane Fonda & Lily Tomlin's 40-Year Friendship

Do you feel that? At the mere notion that Fonda and Mirren could be friends, it's as though the tectonic plates of the planet have shifted and all is right with the world again. All that's left is for Mirren to land a cameo on Fonda's Netflix series, Grace and Frankie, and our lives will be made.

Of course, in all seriousness, there is much work to be done in the world still. However, Mirren says progress is being made.

"It was very different," she noted of this year's Oscars ceremony. "The diversity was noticeable, absolutely. From even two or three years ago, a substantial change had happened. It's interesting that so many issues are being dealt with or confronted or thought about at the same time… diversity, gender, the Time’s Up movement. It’s like a little cultural — or big cultural — wave breaking up on the shore of our society."

More: Helen Mirren's Most Memorable Quotes

Mirren explained to us she is wholly in favor of the necessary changes that are taking place. She just has one major complaint about these movements.

"I’m just so angry that it didn’t happen 30 years ago!" she told us. "It hadn’t, as far as I could make out from my presence in this world. But it was about time then."

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