Dame Helen Mirren claims "spending a lot of time apart" is the key to her successful marriage.

Taylor Hackford and Dame Helen Mirren

Taylor Hackford and Dame Helen Mirren

The 70-year-old actress has been with Taylor Hackford - who she married in 1997 - for almost 30 years and though they "miss each other terribly" when they are away, she thinks it is important she and the director give each other "room to be who they want to be", as well as offering personal and professional support.

She added to 'Entertainment Tonight': "That has to be a two-way street.

"I'm very lucky that Taylor gives the same to me, you know? It's a mutually-supportive relationship."

Helen can next be seen in 'Eye in the Sky' opposite late actor Alan Rickman - who passed away last month - and she thinks the star would have been "proud" that the thriller, which centres around the controversy of drone warfare, was his final piece of work.

She said: "It speaks to his sense of morality and politics and engagement in our democratic values. He was very much that person, as well as obviously being the great actor we all know him as being.

"There's huge outpouring of love for him in London, because we knew the other side of Alan. There wasn't just the sort of movie star, you know, actor side of him."

Though the pair didn't have any scenes together in the movie, the veteran actress still has fond memories of her friend.

She said: "He was the best person to go out to dinner with.

"He was very generous. He always insisted on paying the bill, he was just entertaining and fun and funny and loved going out to dinner and chatting. He loved that."