(dpa) - English actress Helen Mirren, 62, is returning to her Russian roots, playing the wife of classic Russian writer Leo Tolstoy in a movie, The Last Station, now shooting in Germany.
"When I was trying on the costumes, I felt like my Russian great-aunt," quipped Dame Helen, who was born Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov.
She grew up in London and her father, son of a Russian nobleman, later changed the family name to Mirren.
Though the film is set in Russia, the German producers are doing much of the shooting at similar looking locations in Saxony Anhalt, a provincial region in eastern Germany.
The historical drama depicts the elderly Tolstoy (1828-1910) in a struggle between wealth and his urge to let go of material things.
Mirren plays his wife Sofia, who is outraged when he plans a will bestowing the royalties from his books to charity.
In Berlin, Mirren, star of The Queen, said she would check out during her stay the links between her aristocratic Russian ancestors and Germany.
Her own family and Tolstoy's came from a similar social background.
Christopher Plummer, playing Tolstoy, said he did not have such family links, quipping to reporters, "I feel like an idiot playing a genius."
The film is being produced by Egoli Tossell Film Halle and directed by Andrei Konshalovski of Russia.