Dame Helen Mirren used to be afraid of the dark.

The 72-year-old actress had some secret anxieties in the past, but has learned to overcome her terror in certain situations.

She said: ''I used to be very scared of the dark.

''I've never really believed in ghosts, but I used to be very, very frightened of cemeteries at night.

''I don't feel the same any more. I could walk through a cemetery at night now without any problem, which I could never have done.''

The 'Winchester' actress - who is married to director Taylor Hackford - admitted one of the best pieces of advice she'd ever been given was not to be ''overcome'' by her fears.

She told HELLO! magazine: ''The greatest words of wisdom I ever had were from my headmistress when I was about 10 years old and going to an interview at the new big school I was moving to.

''She was a nun and in an enclosed oder, so she never really went out in the world.

''But I think she understood that I was very, very frightened of going into this big school.

''She said, 'Be careful of fear. Fear is dangerous and don't let it overcome you.' I think that was a very, very wise thing to say.''

And among the 'Queen' actress' best advice for young people is to ''be brave'' and strive for ''great things'', as well as always being ''proud'' of themselves and their accomplishments.

Asked her advice for a younger generation, she said: ''Be brave. Be proud of yourself, take yourself seriously, be proud of your accomplishments, always strive for great things but most of all, be really proud of yourself.''