I think it's safe to say that Helen Mirren is revered these days.

She's become one of the most reliably classy actors in the business, which is sort of mind-blowing if you look back at her early work in movies like "Age Of Consent."  She has earned her place in pop culture gradually, and she's such a towering figure at this point that we're now seeing other actors grapple with her legacy, like Maria Bello on the NBC reboot of "Prime Suspect" this year.

I've enjoyed every single chat I've had with her over the years.  I remember one visit to the set of "Inkheart" in particular.  It was the morning after she got her Oscar nomination for "The Queen," and Devin Faraci and I asked her how she had celebrated the nomination with the cast and crew.  "Oh, it was lovely," she said. "They rigged these bags so they would shower us with gold coins from the rafters, and we drank champagne…" 

She stopped, considering the two of us for a moment.  "Now listen, gentlemen, if I read a headline tomorrow that 'Helen Mirren celebrates Oscar nomination with golden shower,' I shall be quite cross with you both."

How can you not love this woman?

At a recent press day for "The Debt," I interviewed her by satellite, and as always, she was charming and gracious, and we discussed the way she and Jessica Chastain worked together to help create one character in the film.  It was too brief a conversation, but that's always the case when you're talking to someone this bright and funny.

"The Debt" opens everywhere this Friday.