When British stage, film and TV actress Olivia Colman won her first Golden Globe two years ago for the mini-series The Night Manager, she was conspicuously absent from the Beverly Hilton, because she had to be on another stage a continent away: “I couldn’t come because I was in a play in London and there is no such thing as getting two days off to fly to Hollywood!”, she laughs.
Born in Norwich, Norfolk this married mother of three began her career in theater and only became a household name at an age where typical Hollywood actresses begin worrying about roles drying up in a still ageist industry. At 40 she broke through with the internationally acclaimed crime series Broadchurch in which she played a worn-out detective trying to solve a major crime in a small town, not realizing how close to her family the tragedy would strike.
Two years later while still filming the third season (out of four) of Broadchurch, she convinced director Susanne Bier to hire her for The Night Manager despite being pregnant with her daughter. She cited Frances McDormand’s brilliant performance in Fargo as an example. Both women were eight months pregnant when they wrapped their respective projects.
When the screenplay for The Favourite landed on her doorstep, she jumped at it. All she had learned in school about the period in history that the film is set in, was architecture and costumes – “There is a lot of references in our world to Queen Anne this and Queen Anne that, but not that much about the woman herself.” Like her co-star Rachel Weisz, Colman had worked with Yorgos Lanthimos on The Lobster. The story fascinated her: “It’s three women in the lead and three women, not because they are to do with a man and someone’s wife and someone’s girlfriend, they are everything to each other and they didn’t need anybody else. It’s come at a great time, although it was in the making for nine years, but it feels fortuitous because it is now, cause everybody wants that, everybody wants to see women stories, women want to see their own stories, and this is funny and gritty and messy and all humanity and why can’t it be women telling that story?”
Three women and 17 rabbits, as it turned out: “Those little buggers were all over me and what I did not know is that they wee all the time. So they would be crawling on me while I was lying on the bed and I felt something, oh there’s a wee, and it would be seeping into my costumes. But I love animals and so I quite enjoyed working with them despite the wetness. And we named them all. Not just Hildebrand who actually has a name in the movie, all of them.” The end of filming left her in a void: “When I wrapped, I felt bereft for a while, and I just wanted it to go on. I missed my bunnies and I missed all of it, everybody.”
What she will not miss this year is that nonstop from Heathrow to LAX to attend her first Golden Globe Awards in person.