• Golden Globe Awards

Nominee Profile 2021: Olivia Colman, “The Father” and “The Crown”

An aging man with progressing dementia lives with his daughter in an apartment in The Father. Her name is Anne and is played by Olivia Colman from a script written by Florian Zeller, who also directs her in the film. Anthony Hopkins plays the father, a mischievous gentleman, who has no idea what is happening to him and refuses one caretaker after the other to Anne’s big regret.
The film is like a puzzle. It is hard to put the pieces together as we see it all from Anthony’s perspective, whose mind is clearly falling apart. Sometimes he does not know who Anne is. Sometimes, she is someone else. Sometimes, she is about to move to Paris. Sometimes, she is married and sometimes not.
“Florian is the one who has written this extraordinary thing from Anthony’s point of view,” said Olivia Colman in an interview with the HFPA on The Father. “The reason I loved it is because I had never read anything from that point of view before. And it really shows you what a terrifying and confusing world it must be when your brain is playing tricks on you like that. But that’s all down to Florian’s genius.”
It is the first time that Olivia Colman and Anthony Hopkins, two of Great Britain’s finest thespians, are together on screen. Both have received a Golden Globe nomination for their performances in The Father – Olivia Colman her fifth as she is also nominated this year for her outstanding performance as Elizabeth II in The Crown.
“I don’t think she’s cold-hearted,” Olivia Colman said about the Queen to HFPA journalists on a set visit of The Crown in London last year. “The whole point is that she’s been told to be the rock, the one everyone can rely on. And then she crumbles and she’s not doing her job. So what happens behind closed doors? We don’t know, but I take offense at the idea that she’s cold-hearted. I think she’s doing her job. I didn’t take offense at you.”
Olivia Colman’s first Golden Globe nomination – and win – came with The Night Manager in 2017. The TV-series directed by Susanne Bier and adapted from the novel by John le Carré has Colman playing the pregnant intelligence officer Angela Burr. The pregnancy was written into the story, as Olivia Colman was pregnant at the time, and Susanne Bier thought it would add to the ‘domesticity’ of her character. Intelligence officers are also real people and get pregnant, she thought. In the novel, the character was male, so there is also a bit of gender-bending going on too. A fact that Olivia Colman appreciated as women should be represented in all walks of life.
The British actress, who had The Office as one of her first acting credits and later appeared in single episodes of Skins and Doctor Who, started out in comedy and eventually transitioned into a highly successful dramatic actress. She got her big break in film in 2011 with Tyrannosaur, in which she plays Hannah, a good Christian Samaritan, who is abused by her husband. The same year, she also appeared as Margaret Thatcher’s daughter in Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady with Meryl Streep in the leading role. In the mystery series Broadchurch, she plays the leading role as a small-time cop, Ellie Miller, who is investigating the death of an 11-year old boy, whose body is found on an idyllic beach in a small Dorset community, where everybody knows each other.
In 2019, Olivia Colman won her second Golden Globe for her portrayal of Queen Anne in The Favourite. She put on 35 pounds to portray the rather frail, self-absorbed, and ill-mannered queen, who in the early 18th century is at war with the French while living an oblivious and extravagant life at court. This was the second collaboration with director Yorgos Lathimos, whose dystopian comedy The Lobster, she also appeared in.
One year later, Olivia Colman was back on stage at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. This time, she won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Elizabeth II in The Crown. A role she took over from Golden Globe winner, Claire Foy.
“And my Globes,” said Olivia Colman to the HFPA in November 2019. “I sort of have this weird thing … so in our sitting room we have the recent Globe and anything from before that has to go somewhere private so that I don’t … I think you should be proud for a year and then move on and pretend it hasn’t happened and start again. So, I try and don’t get too cocky, I think, and keep working.”
Recently, audiences could also see her as a passive-aggressive and slightly evil godmother on the comedy series Fleabag, which is written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who also stars. Audiences also saw her as greedy Madame Thénardier in the TV-series Les Misérables. She is next to be seen in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut The Lost Daughter, which is based on a novel by Elena Ferrante. Here, she plays Leda, a sophisticated college professor on a seaside vacation, who reflects on her choices in life as she watches a young mother and her child on the beach.
Sarah Caroline Olivia Colman was born in Norwich on January 30, 1974. She is married to Ed Sinclair since 2001 and has three children.