From the magazine
Helen Mirren has never been the motherly type, says Veronica Schmidt in the London Times. In her younger years, she took a dim view of domesticity; now 62, she married for the first time a few years ago. But the major reason she never became a mother, she says, was an educational film on childbirth she saw when she was only 13. One day, she and her classmates in a convent school were bused to a nearby boys’ school for a lesson on reproduction. There, a doctor talked them through a graphic educational film about childbirth. The squirming children were told that giving birth is one of the most beautiful things and shown a close-up of a baby emerging from a woman’s birth canal. These are 13-year-old boys and girls who can’t look at each other anyway, and it’s bloody and it’s disgusting, and then occasionally a little subtitle comes up, because there’s no soundtrack, and it says, ‘Now prepare the rubber sheet.’ Two boys fainted, and Mirren had to avert her eyes. Though it all happened 50 years ago, she can still hear the projector whirring away and feel the nausea rising in her throat. I swear, it traumatized me to this day. I haven’t had children and I can’t look at anything to do with childbirth. It absolutely disgusts me. I think in deep, proper psychological terms, I was traumatized.