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(Credit: Alamy)

The curious connection between Helen Mirren and George Harrison

Following the success of Life Of Brian, there was no way former Beatle, George Harrison, was giving up on his production company, and The Long Good Friday was the next major project he undertook. The John Mackenzie directed flick starred Bob Hoskins alongside Helen Mirren, but it wasn’t an easy production to get off the ground due to its complex theme. 

Harrison managed to pick the film up for £200,000 less than its production costs after its risque storyline relating to the IRA stopped it from getting a theatrical release. The Long Good Friday could have feasibly rotted on the back burner if not for Harrison’s intervention which brought the picture to cinemas.

The Beatles’ old enemy Lew Grade was the person who stopped the film from getting a cinematic release before Harrison’s move, as the media mogul believed the film was a glorified advert for the IRA.

In 1969, Grade bought up over a hundred Lennon and McCartney songs following some intense negotiations. It would lead to Lennon eventually suing Grade in 1974 and settling out of court, with the businessman remaining the co-publisher of all of his new songs while McCartney, on the other hand, would win his case.

Perhaps this was an incentive for Harrison when the opportunity arose to pick up the film for less than the cost of production, and it would turn out to be a masterstroke. Both Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren put in spellbinding performances that radiate on the screen, making The Long Good Friday a captivating piece of cinema.

Harrison only played just over a fifth of the production costs to take ownership of the film. It almost would have been left to rot if it wasn’t for the Beatle stepping in, which prevented a highly-edited version from airing on television. He made sure the film got the release it duly deserved, and The Long Good Friday cemented Mirren’s status as one of Britain’s best actors.

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