Helen Mirren has admitted she sees the “abyss” when she treads the boards and has to combat stage fright.
The Oscar-winning actress, 69, won her first Olivier Award for her performance in The Audience in 2013 and was dubbed the Queen of Broadway after the play transferred to the US.
But the star told Radio Times magazine she still suffers from nerves and that she intends to retire.
“Theatre is always nerve-racking. I’m afraid of losing my voice, having enough energy, and not getting sick,” Dame Helen said.
“Every actor has stage fright, but there are levels, from serious psychotic breakdown, where you lock yourself in your dressing room and refuse to come out. It’s happened to a few actors.
“Not me, but when I’m on stage I see the abyss and have to overcome it by telling myself it’s only a play,” she said.
“I don’t know why we should feel like this. If something goes wrong audiences are wonderfully accommodating.”
She denied “insanely and outrageously wrong” reports that she is one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, saying: “What else can you do but laugh, so long as the taxman doesn’t take it seriously.”