Helen Mirren's wedding night can only be described as "hair-raising"—but not the way you'd expect (or want). On Wednesday, in an interview with British daytime talk show This Morning, the Oscar winner described the night she and director Taylor Hackford, who she married on New Year's Eve 1997, spent in a very haunted Scottish castle.
The pair knew what they were in for from the beginning. "When we arrived, [the man] who runs the castle said, 'It's haunted. This castle is haunted.' He said, 'I know because I've renovated it. I went through the whole renovation and I absolutely saw ghosts.' And he said, 'I'm not the sort of person who does that, but I saw ghosts when I was renovating this castle,'" Mirren recounted. Even better: "He said, 'The room that is most haunted is the room that you and your husband will be spending your wedding night in.'" Romantic!
Mirren and Hackford didn't let the owner's warning deter them, though, since Mirren said she doesn't believe in ghosts and thought staying in the castle would be "fun." They went ahead and held their wedding and reception on the castle grounds, which turned out to be a "wonderful, wonderful experience," she said. Around 2 a.m., after the party had finally died down, the newlyweds went up to their "very romantic" (and, you'll recall, very haunted) turret of the castle and fell asleep.
A few hours later, Mirren woke up unable to see anything in the total darkness—until she saw a light whiz around the room. "My hairs are standing up telling you this story!" she said, adding that she spent the next few minutes trying to figure out if she was really awake and, if so, if she'd really seen the light. "Five or 10 minutes later, this light flashes round and my heart's pounding—my heart's pounding now just telling you about it," she said. She got out of bed, thinking, "This cannot be real. This is not happening. Something else is happening." Mirren explained that she searched the entire room with her arms outstretched before landing on the wooden window shutters and, finally, her "ghost." "Cut out of the shutters is a little wooden heart, and the lights that I was seeing were the lights of the people, the cars driving down the road," she said, causing the This Morning hosts to break into relieved laughter. "It wasn't a ghost. It never is a ghost," Mirren added.
Although Mirren and Hackford, who met when Hackford directed Mirren in 1985's White Nights, have stayed relatively silent about their decades-long relationship—and have admitted that the main reason they tied the knot after more than 10 years together was for "legal reasons"—Mirren did once sing Hackford's praises during a 2016 appearance on the Today show. "I don't have much life left, do I? So, I hope he's the love of my life," she joked, before turning more serious. "The great thing about finding a partnership later on [in life] is that you recognize it as such. You recognize the partnership level of this relationship as much as the love and the lust and all the rest of it."