She may have played Queen on The Crown, one of the world’s most beloved dramas, but Olivia Colman is just a little bit baffled by Australia’s interest in the real-life drama about the real royal family.
« It’s a bit bizarre that the Queen is still your head of state, » laughs the British actor at Zoom from the London house she shares with her husband Ed and three children.
« In the UK, where you always grow up with them, you don’t really think about it. If you live in Sydney, you probably don’t go to the opera house.
« I don’t go to all of the incredible things in London because they’re there. And it’s the same with the royal family – they were always there so you wouldn’t think of them. I think for people outside of the UK, you’re a much bigger one Thing. But I could be wrong! »
Colman’s jaw-dropping achievement as Queen Elizabeth II won her major acclaim (and a Golden Globe), but she said she was more than ready to hand the reins (or reign!) To British colleague Imelda Staunton who took on the daunting role takes over for the last two seasons of the show.
« I have a short attention span so it’s a long time for me to be a part for two years, » says Colman. « And although I was sad to say goodbye to everyone and really enjoyed it, I was excited to do something different. To play Queen, even though she is very strong and stoic and quiet and listens a lot, I wanted to [play a role] where I’m a little bit scolded and less controlled. »
Colman’s new film, The Father, based on the award-winning French play, isn’t exactly a rant feast, but rather a poignant and deeply emotional ride over a woman grappling with her father (Anthony Hopkins) rapidly progressing dementia.
It’s a brutal, heartbreaking film about a topic that many of us have either dealt with or will eventually deal with – the deteriorating health of aging parents.
« My people are still there and still together. They are now in their late 70s and there are no signs of dementia. Hopefully they got away from it, » says Colman. « Seeing this happen to your parents must be tough. I just can’t imagine watching someone you love and admire. »
Colman says when she found out she was going to play Oscar-winning Hopkins in the movie she swore – a lot.
« It was like ‘f — » laughs Colman. « I mean, can you imagine? I’ve known his face all my life and everything he’s done – he’s a bit of an acting god to me – and you think to yourself you’re going to do a job with him. And I said, « Damn it, shut up, no way! » And then he’s so much nicer, he’s so nice, he’s so generous, he’s so brilliant at his job. Every morning I would say to my husband: « Ha, I’ll be working with Tony Hopkins! » « »
Despite the strong emotional content of the story, Colman says she and Hopkins would upset each other between scenes. « I know it’s a very tough watch, but we had such a happy time together. I know that sounds weird, but Tony tells funny stories and makes amazing impressions. We had a good time and that’s the way we work anyway – Neither of us We are very methodical.
« Tony leaned over and whispered to me, ‘Aren’t we lucky?’ and I would say, « YES! » « The role that has already earned her an AACTA (Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award) – » I was so excited and surprised – I’ve never been to Australia! « ), Has Colman also earned her second Oscar nomination. (She won the 2019 Oscar for Best Actress for playing another queen – the wildly eccentric Queen Anne in The Favorite.)
In the past few years, the 47-year-old’s career has skyrocketed, making her one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actresses. And her deserved success is not only due to her talent, but also to her incredible versatility. She easily navigates between drama (The Crown, Broadchurch, The Night Manager) and comedy (see her breakout performance on British classic Peep Show, while her biting twist when Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s terrible stepmother literally stole the show in Fleabag).
The extremely charming Colman is that rare kind of Hollywood star – resolutely down-to-earth and self-deprecating. « People get too full of themselves, » she said.
She is also honest about her uncertainties about the constant scrutiny that comes with the public.
« I have a ring light here that is supposed to be more flattering, » she says, pointing to a bright light above her computer screen.
« Because the moment there is a photo from that angle, » she says, pointing out from under her chin. « Everyone is commenting on it and you think I wasn’t a supermodel and I had three kids and my body is stretched and the parts are shabby and it’s not fair that everyone is expected to conform. Because I am embarrassed when I’m supposed to be disguised for a job or feel like people think who they think she is – you can’t polish a fool. Anyway, I’m nice and my husband loves me. »
Colman says she controls media monitoring by « not actually running out ». (The pandemic, she says, helped.)
« But I know that I’m not alone. I know that a lot of women feel negative things about themselves, and I’ve gotten slightly better. I also protect myself by not putting myself in that position as much as possible. Me can see my friends whose bodies have changed or their faces have changed over the years and i think they are so beautiful because they are amazing people i can see that by just looking at them and i want to that in my own head, but I’m not there yet. »
With that, Colman is keen to return to a lockdown-induced Friends marathon with her son.
« We always watch friends – my younger boy loves it. I love cuddling and watching him because I’m reliving my 20s. »
That’s the good thing about Zoom home interviews during the pandemic – you can go to the next room to see friends with your child.
« You can wear slippers too, » Colman continues with another big laugh, pulling one of her feet towards the camera to reveal some very chic silver shoes.
« The only thing I have to do if I do interviews during the pandemic is I can wear my slippers. So … silver linings. »
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