Helen Mirren - LEAD
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There's no denying that Dame Helen Mirren is only getting better with time (even James Marsden is crushing on her). Now that she is 71, the vivacious Oscar winner opened up about life in her 70s and the sex symbol reputation that has consistently followed her.

"I think it's probably going to follow me to my grave," she told AARP Magazine of her rep, adding that she's enjoying being an actress in her 70s. "The best thing about being over 70 is being over 70," she continued. "Certainly when I was 45, the idea of being 70 was like, 'Arghhh!' But you only have two options in life: Die young or get old. There is nothing else."

"The idea of dying young when you're 25 is kind of cool—a bit romantic, like James Dean," she added. "But then you realize that life is too much fun to do that. It's fascinating and wonderful and emotional. So you just have to find a way of negotiating getting old psychologically and physically."

Mirren, who said she thinks its a good idea to "break your own rules on a regular basis," also discussed her decision not to have children and to hold off on getting married to her husband Taylor Hackford until 1997.

"It's very hard to unpick your choices and a lot of it was luck," she said. "But a lot of it was choice, absolutely. So yes, I did very consciously choose my work over my relationships right up to the time that I met Taylor. I was 38 when I met Taylor, pretty late in life."

"We got married in the end because we realized that we were going to be together forever," she continued. "We got married, ultimately, for legal reasons more than anything else. Estate planning and other complicated things like that."

"And our families, we sensed, wanted us to be married. I always said I have nothing against marriage; it just wasn't to my taste, like turnips. It took me a very long time to come round to acquiring the taste. I just had to meet the right turnip."

Although Mirren now has a taste for turnips (literally and figuratively), there is one thing she will probably never stomach. "American cheddar is so ghastly," she quipped.