Channel 4 has commissioned a new comedy pilot featuring three of Britain’s leading comic actresses.
Bad Sugar will star Olivia Colman, Julia Davis and Sharon Horgan, who also conceived the idea for the show together.
The half-hour pilot centres on a dysfunctional, wealthy mining dynasty, with an ailing patriarch and some greedy siblings. The show, produced by Tiger Aspect Productions, is described as ‘a peculiarly British take on telenovela style melodramas, played for laughs’.
Bad Sugar has been written by Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, the award-winning writers behind The Old Guys and hit Channel 4 comedies Peep Show and Fresh Meat. It will be brought to the screen by The Inbetweeners director Ben Palmer.
The programme will also feature Peter Serafinowicz, Reece Shearsmith and David Bradley, best known for appearing in Ideal and the Harry Potter film series.
Executive Producer Sophie Clarke-Jervoise said: “The process of bringing together such gigantic talent, both on and off screen, has been tremendously exciting. Bad Sugar is a darkly comic world where anything can happen, and does!”
Writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong add: “We’ve always wanted to write a show with poisonings, death threats, extreme psychological pain and big hair. With the help of the amazing cast we’re hoping it might be what everyone in UK television has been waiting so long for – Grey Gardens, the sitcom.”
Nerys Evans, Channel 4’s Comedy Commissioning Editor, says: “We’re so delighted to have three of the country’s funniest comedy actresses come together on this glorious project, it’s beautifully written by Sam and Jesse, who are without a doubt the hottest comedy writers in the UK right now. If that mix of comedy talent wasn’t tantalising enough, it’s also directed by Ben Palmer, fresh from the record-breaking Inbetweeners Movie. To say we’re excited by Bad Sugar is a bit of an understatement.”
Bad Sugar will be shown on Channel 4 next year. Meanwhile Olivia Colman is currently starring in Rev and will continue to appear in Peep Show when it returns next year; Julia Davis stars in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror on Channel 4 on December 11th; and Sharon Horgan is currently making Created by Sharon Horgan and Holly Walsh.
British actress Olivia Colman speaks softly and with great modesty but perhaps that’s wise. Her talent speaks loudly on its own behalf by way of ntroduction. Though British audiences have embraced her comic talent for years now, international audiences are just now getting to know her as a dramatic force. She’s utterly devastating as a meek Christian shop owner in the violent drama Tyrannosaur. The film, directed by the actor Paddy Considine (In America), is gathering a small but very vocal fanbase who think Colman really ought to have a Best Actress nomination in her very near future. Later this month, she’ll be onscreen again as Carol Thatcher daughter of The Iron Lady, but even if you exited the first movie only to immediately enter the latter, you’ll scarcely recognize her from one film to the next.
We spoke briefly on the phone recently about her rising stardom, drama and comedy acting muscles, and having a living legend as a co-star.
Nathaniel: Have you been able to soak in all of this attention from Tyrannosaur? Your name being on the awards radar here in the US and such?
OLIVIA COLMAN: Not really. it’s quite surreal. Because it’s not my first job. I’m 37 and i’ve been working for a long time. So… [long pause] This job means so much to me that I’m thrilled that people are liking it. That’s the best thing about it, that other people are taking it to their hearts as much as we all did.
Nathaniel: Your involvement with Tyrannosaur goes way back. You were also in Paddy Considine‘s short film “Dog Altogether” about the same characters. Did this feel like a do-over? What was it like going back?
COLMAN: lt felt different. A lot of the scenes from the short were also in the feature and the reshooting of those scenes that we’d done years before were the hardest to film. It’s weird because it’s like an echo. You can hear yourself. You’ve already said it but years ago. It felt very different apart from that because we suddenly had a sense of a much longer journey. In the short I didn’t know about Hannah’s backstory at all.
Nathaniel: This gave you a chance to dig deeper then?
COLMAN: Yes. It’s lovely to get your teeth into it.
Nathaniel: In terms of Hannah’s religiosity and her generous nature. How did you approach constructing her? A lot of religious characters in cinema aren’t, well, sympathetic like this.
COLMAN: It was so clear from the page. Paddy had written it so beautifully you just had to do what was written, really. I knew who she was straightaway. Even if she hadn’t been a Christian of good faith, she would still have been a good person. Her faith is sort of her protection and her armor but even without it, I would have known who she was.
Nathaniel: Paddy is such a brilliant actor but he’s not in front of the camera for this one. So what it was like being directed by a fellow thespian?
COLMAN: Amazing! It made such a difference. I don’t imagine all actors can direct at all. I think probably a lot of them would be terrible but he was so comfortable on that side of the camera. He knew how difficult he found it in front of the camera and he made sure we never felt like that. We always felt safe. He’s an extraordinary creature. He would say exactly the right thing to get you to the right place. I’ve said this before but I think he could get a performance out of a log. He’s amazing, just taps in. Everybody wanted to make him proud. And he’s a great leader of people. A little thumbs up at the right moment would made someone feel 10 feet tall.
For those of us who don’t act, we always assume that sets of intense brutal dramas like this one must be sober or difficult to be on. But maybe it’s not like that exactly.
OLIVIA COLMAN: No, we had a really jolly time! We were all doing something we felt passionate about. Everyone was up in their game. There were a lot of people who were very funny on set. Peter, Eddie, and Paddy – hilarious people. You have to have a little giggle after you’ve done some of those scenes. You have to go have a drink together and laugh or you’d go mad.
Everyone is so cruel to Hannah in the film, even Joseph (Peter Mullan). He’s trying to be kind but he’s actually cruel.
Well, yes. He starts off being cruel. It’s his defense mechanism. He’s scared as well, underneath. But he ends up rising to the challenge and being her rock. They are each other’s rocks which is a rather beautiful thing.
Since you had this opportunity to revisit Hannah and expand the character, which other character of yours would you love to revisit?
Ooh, that’s a good question. I have no idea. [Pause]. I did a school play of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and I’d like to do Jean Brodie again now that I’m a grown up rather than a 16 year old.
You played Jean Brodie at sixteen [Laughter]!? That’s an interesting character to bring up because she has such odd concepts of her age and time and the way her life has developed.
I probably didn’t have a clue what was going on with it at 16. I don’t think I had a clue what it was really about! That’d be quite fun to do now.
You’ve been working for a long time and prior to Tyrannosaur it was mostly comedic work. What was your first American movie experience like? Amy Heckerling’s I Could Never Be Your Woman. I know that was a really long time ago.
I haven’t seen it! I don’t even know if I made it to the edit. I went to do that job ten days after having my first child. My husband came with me. We were both sort of tired and emotional and of all people to stand next to, you know, still in shock having just had my first baby, I had to stand next to Michelle Pfeiffer. I thought ‘Somebody somewhere is having a laugh! Standing next to this? She’s more beautiful than any human I’ve ever seen and I’ve got sore boobs and breastfeeding. This is not fair!’
It was a funny old moment.
Do you consider comedy a different acting muscle than drama?
I don’t know actually. I think you still have to commit to it and throw yourself in. Comedy people — often when they try to play the comedy it doesn’t work. It still has to be real, do you know what I mean? So, no, not really.
It’s scarier for me doing what I did for Tyrannosaur because I felt that some people would watch this who knows what it feels like and I don’t want to let them down.
So did you do research into abused women?
A little bit. I went to talk to two lovely women who work for a charity called Refuge in the UK which helps victims of domestic violence. They answered a lot of my questions. My preconceived ideas about domestic violence… they put me straight on a few things. They gave me case studies to read which were just shocking, much worse than anything you saw on screen. That sort of informs your performance in the back of your head.
Have you given any thought to the Oscar buzz? Do you read reviews?
I find it hard to read reviews. I’m not so thick-skinned. I don’t tend to look at reviews unless a friend has looked beforehand. ‘It’s all right, they liked it!’ If people love our film, Paddy’s film, than nothing could be better. But I don’t expect it to happen. It would be amazing, it would be a dream, but there’s no point in pinning your hopes on it. It does seem rather like a fairy tale and not possible.
Especially for something so dark.
It’s quite a hard sell on the face of it. Do you go to a big budget beautiful Avatar type film or do you go to watch this thing that might upset you? But I think [Tyrannosaur] is redemptive and beautiful.
In your next two films you’re playing two characters that are very famous to British audiences, Queen Elizabeth in Hyde Park on Hudson and Carol Thatcher in The Iron Lady. How intimidating is it to play celebrities?
Queen Elizabeth was not so intimidating. This was her in 1939 which is not recent memory and there aren’t an awful lot of recordings of her voice. I was terrified of playing Carol. There’s a real person still there who could watch and I didn’t want to offend or get it too wrong. So I had to go with broad brush strokes, I suppose, sort of hint at her. She’s got quite a well known voice, the way she speaks. So I took some of that and then had to make her my own. I hope she doesn’t mind.
We had a bit of rehearsal, mainly to work out tricky camera moves. The camera is trying to capture her thought process [Margaret Thatcher’s] but from a distance. We had to work out where we were standing for what scenes. It was more of that than character work — that had to be done on your own. I’m so grateful that Jim was there. I’ve worked with him a couple of times before that and he’s just the nicest man in the world. It took the edge off that I was having to stand in a room with a minor deity, MERYL.
It turns out Meryl is such a lovely woman so you forgot about being nervous after a few moments in her company.
Was that odd to watch her go between her character and herself between takes?
Yes. It’s hard to remember that underneath this character makeup is this ethereal beauty with these wonderful cheekbones and nose and things. That was all hidden. I’m quite grateful it was hidden. It would have been harder to be normal remembering “Oh my god you really are Meryl Streep!”. She was lovely and it was amazing that she would just flick between two voices without batting an eyelid.
I’ve loved Jim Broadbent for a long time in Mike Leigh movies and elsewhere. He’s played your father twice now so are you required to send him cards for Father’s Day?
We do text each other “Hello Daddy!” / “Hello Daughter!” [Laughs] I’d love it in my contract if I always had to play his daughter and he always had to play my daddy. It’d be brilliant. At the end of The Iron Lady –I think it was around mother’s day — I gave a mother’s day cupcake to Meryl and a father’s day cupcake to Jim so no parents were upset.
I’m sure they’re tough to follow as co-stars but who would you love to work with next? I know I’d love to see you in a Mike Leigh movie.
Would you? [Laughs] I don’t know if I’d be any good! I don’t think I’m very good at improvising. Eddie Marsan [her screen husband in Tyrannosaur] is a genius at it. Well, I’d love to be in it but I don’t think I’d make the grade. I don’t know. Obviously anything Paddy does ever, I’d do. I’d so anything he does. Even if I was just the girl making tea.
So Queen Elizabeth and Carol Thatcher. Two famous Brits in a row. Will you make it a trilogy?
I’m afraid I have no say in it. I’ll go for auditions and see if i get them.
Well, the offers will surely be rolling in after Tyrannosaur.
Maybe. But don’t tempt fate. I might never work again!
Olivia Colman was in fighting spirit last night, telling anyone who thought her film Tyrannosaur was bleak and downbeat “should go and watch the f***ing film”.
The British actress was in giddy form, after winning the prize for Best Actress in a film about an unlikely love story within the horror of marital abuse.
She added, “I just want people to see that it is actually redemptive and beautiful. Tell all your friends to go and see it.”
Colman, who in her glamorous frock was a million miles away from the demoralised character Hannah she plays, thanked her writer and director Paddy Considine for “the role of a lifetime. You don’t get scripts like that every day”.
It was Tyrannosaur‘s night – also winning the award for Best Film, and Considine collecting the gong for Best Debut Director (the Douglas Hickox Award).
Considine joked it was just as well he was a director, as there weren’t any other debut awards available – “I might go into make-up next, try my hand at that.”
Well, if you know Olivia Colman, you know GOOD work! The above photo was taken tonight after the film and I was so thrilled to meet and chat with her.
Let me start by saying her performance in this film is OSCAR WORTHY!
The movie starts out very compelling, Joseph (Peter Mullan) coupled with rage and anger that you don’t really expect. The shear madness of it all will have you inching up in your seat just drooling wondering what will happen next!
Skip ahead to when we first see Hannah (Olivia Colman), you already can feel this character…she’s warm, loving, almost sacred-there can be nothing wrong with this child of God.
We find out later in the movie there is a lot of things wrong with Hannah. Namely, she is a victim of domestic abuse over and over and over. I can relate to her turmoil, not sure what to do, how to get away from it, making excuses and lying to your friends…it’s just a vicious cycle that we victims have gone through until we find the strength to leave. Which, by the way, she did leave-yeah!
There is a part in the movie where she is praying over Joseph’s father and you’d think she was a nun the way the words flowed, sounding so heavenly. The use of sound reduction in this particular scene works amazingly. Joseph’s eyes and the faint whisper of her voice in back of them…really well done!
The story continues and moves to happier times with Hannah and Joseph in a pub, celebrating the life of Joseph’s now deceased father. The joy that was forgotten in both their lives was brought seemingly back to life in those moments. Watching it, I reflected back to more care-free times in my life where I could enjoy a glass of wine with friends and just talk about anything, laugh about anything, no worries, all the world’s trouble’s forgotten. This scene hit the mark, I think a lot of people probably felt the same way watching it. If they didn’t, there’s something wrong with them.
When we reach the end of the movie, the twist of fate that occurs was just so unexpected for me. Inside, it made me want to scream and shout and cheer for Hannah, but at the same time I felt so sad for her. Joseph’s life will go on now, but with a sort of calm that only Hannah could provide.
If you want to know why the movie is named “Tyrannosaur” it will be revealed to you in the movie, I’m certainly not going to tell you! Go watch it!
Two Thumbs WAY Up!!
OSCAR WORTHY!!! You heard it here! OSCAR WORTHY!!!
Please be sure to “Like” The Film on Facebook!
Few of us in Oscar Blogger Land have seen “The Iron Lady,” however, and Colman’s being overshadowed — ever so slightly — by her co-star, Meryl Streep, for the work she does as Margaret Thatcher. (Colman plays Carol in Phyllida Lloyd’s upcoming biopic, and tells me she’s thrilled to share the screen with Streep, as you’d guess.)
But we have seen “Tyrannosaur,” Paddy Considine’s hard-to-handle relationship drama, which is why we can’t stop talking about Colman’s devastating performance. She plays Hanna, a battered and bruised soul who clings to a wavering religious faith and finds herself tested by a surly lout who stumbles into her shop one day.
Weeks ago, I wrote of “Tyrannosaur” that, “like a traditional Irish wake, it is, at times, depressing, celebratory, devastating and boisterous. Yet the script’s honest probes of such taboo subjects as rape, alcoholism and savage, blue-collar violence are unflinching, which pushes ‘Tyrannosaur’ past like-minded, melodramatic Sundance pap.
“What you’ve heard about Colman is true. … The actress allows numerous difficult emotions to flood across her tranquil face. Considine’s focus shifts from Colman to [Peter] Mullan at times, though both are so good at wallowing in the human pain of this raw story that ‘Tyrannosaur’ rarely misses a step.”
Colman made the rounds in Los Angeles in support of the film recently, and I was able to ask her a few questions about the movie, her performance, and the picture’s Oscar hopes. Here’s Olivia Colman:
HollywoodNews.com: Please give me a few things about Mr. Considine’s script that appealed to you?
The main thing was that the characters he’d written were whole, multi-faceted, complicated people. The script was beautiful, you almost never get scripts like that through the post, it was the most affecting script I had ever read.
HollywoodNews.com: I think most audiences will recognize you from your comedic efforts, like Gervais’ brilliant OFFICE, GREEN WING, the hilarious PEEP SHOW or HOT FUZZ. Were you actively seeking something more dramatic as a means of challenging yourself?
I find it funny that people assume their is any element of choice in an actors career. You have to be a fairly hefty, established actor to have that. I had dreamt about this job from about the age of 12, Paddy took a punt on me, and I will be eternally grateful. I got work in comedy and I’m very grateful for it. I have had the best time laughing with some of the loveliest people, but I always wanted to do work like this. But you have no control as an actor, you have to wait for someone to give you the chance.
HollywoodNews.com: At what point in the process of constructing your performance did you finally figure Hannah out? And how did Mr. Considine help you shape the performance?
Hannah was figured out on the page. The moment you read her, you know who she is. Paddy gave me confidence, He made us all feel safe. He has the ability to say just the right words to tap into your head. He was extraordinary. You want to make him proud.
HollywoodNews.com: I’m usually fascinated by actors who turn to directing. What can you tell me about Mr. Considine as a director? And would you ever give directing a try?
Paddy was brilliant because he knows what it feels like to be an actor. He films in sequence as much as possible, [and] he doesn’t make you do a scene over and over. He knows when he’s got it. He inspires and gives you the confidence to throw yourself in. He’s a protective and nurturing force. He’s also hilarious.
I’ll never direct, though. I’d be rubbish.
HollywoodNews.com: Since its Sundance debut, Tyrannosaur has been receiving awards support. The British Independent Film Awards nominations were a particular boost. What does awards recognition mean to you? Did it ever once cross your mind that Tyrannosaur might be in the Oscar conversation when you were filming it? Maybe as you watched Mr. Mullan’s gut-wrenching performance, or dailies of you and he acting together?
No, we had no place in our heads for awards talk during filming. That’s not why it was made. We all felt we were part of something special. This is Paddy vision. He wanted to create cinema. When people first saw it and got it, that was a beautiful thing. To be noticed and recognized by nominations and things, well of course that’s overwhelming. We all feel so proud of this film, of what Paddy has made. It means the world if people recognize it. Watching Peter and Eddie doing ANYTHING is an honor. They’re flawless.
HollywoodNews.com: Lastly, which is more exciting: Acting alongside Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady” or playing Queen Elizabeth for “Hyde Park on Hudson”?
Ooh, tricky. I’ll be able to die happy that I was even in the same room as Meryl Streep! And, every day on ‘Hyde Park’ was a joy also. Cant compare I’m afraid.
For people who don’t live in Great Britain, the lifestyle of the working class might be somewhat foreign to them, which may be why Tyrannosaur, the feature film directorial debut by actor Paddy Considine (In America) could very much be an acquired taste to some Americans. Considine expanded on ideas he wrote for a short called “Dog Altogether,” which won multiple awards including a BAFTA Award and the top prize for a short film at the Venice Film Festival.
Both the short and feature star one of Scotland’s finest actors Peter Mullen playing Joseph, an angry alcoholic widower who when we meet him has accidentally killed his beloved pet dog in a drunken rage. This is a man who clearly has problems and he’s not an easy guy to like, but when he meets a kindly Jesus-loving store clerk named Hannah, played by Olivia Colman, he tries to turn over a new leaf as he discovers her own dark secret about having an abusive husband (Eddie Marsan). All three actors give absolutely fantastic performances in the movie that isn’t easy to watch, but tempers the intense drama with its own unique form of dark humor.
It’s a great role for Mullen to really let loose with someone who is all rage and bile but whom also has a heart buried deep beneath, and it features a terrific dramatic performance by Colman, who is best known for her comedy. (Some may remember her as the single “police woman” on the force in Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz, in which Considine also appeared as a foul-mouthed detective.) Considine’s transition into filmmaker is nothing short of astounding, as he’s created a British drama on par with the likes of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach in terms of showing real humans.
Back in January, ComingSoon.net had a chance to sit down with Mullen and Colman at a ski resort in Park City when the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival–this is just after we had talked with writer/director Paddy Considine, an interview you can read here. Colman offered to make us all tea as we began with the Scottish actor, whose heavy brogue is not always the easiest to understand, but he was surprisingly warm and introspective in opposition to some of the roles he’s played.
ComingSoon.net: I just spoke with Paddy and he mentioned you two did a short film together. What was the draw to do the short film and then to do the feature? Did he tell you a lot about the character before giving you a script?
Peter Mullen: No, with the short film, we had been to the BAFTAs and Paddy, whom I had never met before, said, “I’d really like to work with you” and the feeling was mutual. And so about a year later, he sent the script to my agent for the short film he was doing for no money. I read the script, loved it, phoned him up and said “Count me in” and that was it. I had never met Olivia before, never worked with Paddy and he came and shot the whole film in Glasgow. Originally, it was set in Sheffield or Leeds, but because it was for no money, he shot in Glasgow and Olivia, she then came to Glasgow to film the short. We did that, and about two years after we did the short, he sent us a script for the feature. The first couple pages I thought, “This is just the short film again.”
CS: So the short film’s just the beginning of the movie basically.
Mullen: Yes, the short film is the beginning of the film.
Olivia Colman: It’s all exactly the same.
Mullen: There’s about three scenes that are cut from it, something like that, and to my amazement, it had its own… what did F. Scott Fitzgerald say? “A great work of art is like a block of ice on a stove. It will move and undulate to its own temperature.” I probably paraphrased him badly but that’s just what he said. When I read the script, that’s what it felt like, a great block of ice that was going on its own way. it wasn’t just defining itself as a short film, and then it took him another year or something to get the money for it, maybe longer, two years?
Colman: At some point, the money they really needed wasn’t going to happen, so Paddy finally just said, “Let’s get on. With whatever we’ve got, let’s just make it.”
Mullen: Something like that. Yeah.
CS: What about yourself, Olivia? Because you’d worked with him before as an actor, but what did he tell you about Hannah before you did the short?
Colman: I remember very clear when I met him, because I was a huge fan of Paddy’s and I got over-excited when Paddy walked up the stairs. We were going to have a rehearsal for “Hot Fuzz” and I went “Hi” and sat up and opened the door for him…
Colman: I open the doors for everybody all the time.
Mullen: I must remember that, to open the door. That’s brilliant.
Colman: It’s hilarious. He thought–’cause he had the idea for the short–“Oh, maybe she’ll be the one for that” so I’m eternally grateful and pleased I opened the door.
CS: When you have someone who is such a good actor, how do you know that they can pull off what they’ve written as a director?
Mullen: You don’t. You genuinely don’t. You go in and you touch wood–I’ve been very lucky most of the films I’ve done–you go on instinct with a director and most of them, while they don’t necessarily become commercial success but artistically you’re like,”Yeah, that’s a job well done.” Couple times you thought wrongly and you only find that out when you see the finished product and it’s not about bad acting, it’s bad directing. With Paddy, because we’d done the short, we already knew and had complete confidence in him as, for wont of a better word, the human director. Because you have the technical director, then there’s a human director. From an actor’s point of view…
Colman: You want the human one
Mullen: You want the human one. You don’t give a f*ck about the technical one. Some directors quite rightly want to explain a shot to you. Personally, I don’t give a f*ck. As long as he’s a nice person, isn’t going to shout at me, isn’t going to shout at Olivia, isn’t going to make life hell. For so many actors, that’s the primary fear. These are people with kids and mortgages, they don’t want to be shouted at. It’s bizarre. Because any line of work, you obviously don’t want to be shouted at but for actors, it’s quite crippling and some actors can play on it. They can suss it. It’s like, “If I raise my voice and say you’re sh*t, I can decimate you” and if you met them on the street, you’d be like “What did you just f*cking say?” but the minute you’re on a set, you’re f*cking vulnerable as all hell, so we knew the human Paddy then we saw the technical Paddy which his all together, which was fabulous. So it was dead easy when we were doing “Tyrannosaur” because we knew how he was going to approach it. What we didn’t know was quite how the technical, we didn’t know it was going to be quite as gothic as it was going to look, and it was stunning compositions, really beautiful.
CS: Right, it looks amazing. It looks like a movie that could have cost three or four times as much.
Mullen: Exactly. We knew Paddy spoke about being desperate to create, as he calls it, “a cinematic experience,” so he was very particular about composition. Paddy was desperate not to have the Dogme swing-camera approach or drama-doc, however you want to describe it. He wanted something to look more like the cinema he grew up with.
Colman: But he’s got that photographic background, doesn’t he?
Colman: Photographic degree so visually… and he and Eric, they had a kindred love of beautiful shots.
Mullen: Yes, and what was great was that we never spoke about that, well I didn’t anyway.
Colman: No, I had no idea.
Mullen: Not your business.
CS: You guys did the short and it had a very specific tone but this movie gets into some very dark territory in how it deals with some real serious issues like domestic abuse. Since you were mainly known for comedy, were you nervous about where the movie goes?
Colman: Well, to begin with, when he said he was going to extend the short, I thought “Cool” but I didn’t think I’d be in it much and I thought it would be Joseph’s story, but he said, “I do want to do both of your stories and find out how you come together.” Then reading it, his wife said, “I’ve seen it and I can’t believe what Paddy’s going to make you do.” Then I read it, and I showed my husband, and my husband said, “You can do that. You’ve just got to go with it. Do it.” Because I was worried I’d make it look hammy or bad. Yes, I started off in comedy but that’s just where I got my work. I’ve always been an actor.
CS: Did you do theater before?
Colman: Yeah. It just so happens that you do a job and you can do a comic script so other people go “Oh!” It just works like that, you don’t plan it. I can’t turn up and go, “I want a period drama now.” If only that worked.
CS: This movie isn’t a comedy but it has comic elements…
Colman: Well, every day life does. We just laughed. Everybody laughs all the time and some of the worst things that happen make you laugh ’cause it’s a defense isn’t it, I suppose.
CS: When you see this movie with an audience are you sometimes surprised when they laugh and what they laugh at?
Mullen: There’s been a few. I love it. Personally, I’m a cheap whore. I’ll take any f*cking laugh that comes, that’s fine by me. Silence in a cinema can be slightly distressing because you don’t know if somebody hates it or loves it. But over the years, it’s been really interesting. There’s been a couple laughs from me, but completely unexpected, and I love that, because I always think if an audience laughs in that fashion, they’re really getting the story. When they don’t laugh or they aren’t sure, obviously–you don’t want them mocking laugh–but when there are those moments, for want of a better word, the democratic “You can laugh if you want, don’t laugh if you don’t.” A big laugh we got the other night was a moment when Olivia tries to put a tie onto Joseph and he goes back because he’s not used to any physical contact, and it got a huge laugh, which I thought was fabulous. Like I said, I’ll take any laughs when they come, but I do think it means a deeper understanding.
CS: I’ll be curious to see how the movie is seen over in England or Scotland, because there’s a lot of things in the movie which are probably very foreign to us which are very common there.
Mullen: Sure. Not so much that, but I’ll be interested to see audience response internationally, because any film festival is not the real world. We’re all here to see that type of film, that’s why it’s Sundance. Immediately, you can get a leg up. It would be tougher to come to Sundance if we were an out and out goofy musical. It would be tougher, because audiences are here for serious cinema, that’s why we spend out money to come to Sundance to see serious independent cinema. It’ll be interesting to see how it does in the great big real world of multiplexes and the like ’cause personally I think it’s an astonishing film and it should do really well, but depends on how they market it. It comes down to that, like everything, particularly for a film like this, because say hypothetically it wins a couple of big gongs. In the UK, as I’ve discovered in the last five or six years, they will not put them on the poster, it won’t go. You don’t want to put Venice or that it won Cannes. They will not go see it, so for low-budget cinema, you’re constantly spread across the canal, because you’re like, “Yeah, but we’ve won it, that’s good. Doesn’t that tell an audience that this is quality?”
Colman: Is that right?
Mullen: Never put “Cannes” on a poster ever. “My Name is Joe” they were like (does impression of something plummeting like a bomb). Britain was the only country that didn’t put “Golden Lion” right across the top, because nobody will watch it.
Colman: That’s hilarious.
CS: How hard is it to make a character like Joseph? That’s the key of why the film is so great is that as you watch the movie, you think “This guy is really horrid” but it’s really easy to like him after a while, so was that something that was clear from the script how to do that?
Mullen: Obviously, a lot comes to the script in terms of context. I would never think of making anybody likeable. Ever. I’d only be interested in making them honest and pay tribute to them, no matter who the hell you’re playing, you have to attribute to them, their own humanity however screwed up that may be. I would never expect an audience to like a character. That’s never bothered me, that kind of empathetic notion to me is almost counter-art. You either look at someone as a human being with all the flaws or you really should be watching a television soap opera. If that’s what you want, which is fine. I have nothing against soap operas. If you want black and white, good, bad, those are all avenues, but for a film like this, it goes completely upstream. There is no good, there is no bad.
CS: You have it a little bit easier with Hannah because she’s completely likeable and she’s the sweetest person in the world.
Colman: They practically both turn on their heads.
Mullen: Hannah commits the worst crime in the whole f*cking film. Much worse.
And really, we can’t say much more about the movie without spoiling anything. Tyrannosaur opens in New York and LA on Friday, November 18.
The second series of ACCUSED, Jimmy McGovern’s drama for BBC One, starts filming with Anne-Marie Duff, Olivia Colman, John Bishop, Robert Sheehan, Sheridan Smith and Thomas Brodie-Sangster in leading roles.
Anne-Marie Duff (Shameless, The Virgin Queen), Olivia Colman (Rev, Peep Show), John Bishop (Route Irish, Skins), Robert Sheehan (Misfits), Sheridan Smith (Love Soup, Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Nanny McPhee, Love Actually), Joe Dempsie (Skins, Fades), Josh Bolt (The Be All And End All) and Oliver Lee (Waterloo Road, Wired) are cast in the second series of Accused, which focuses on a different crime and punishment story each week, and starts filming this month in and around Manchester.
The first episode to film stars Anne-Marie Duff and Olivia Colman. They are mothers trying to do right by their sons and their community in a battle against guns and crime. Their sons are played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Oliver Lee. The episode opens on an estate where the funeral of a young drug dealer is about to take place. His gang leader, Riley played by Joe Dempsie, has instructed local shops to stay closed and show respect or there will be consequences.
The women’s lives and the lives of those they love will never be the same again. The episode is written by Carol Cullington (Brookside, Emmerdale) and Jimmy McGovern.
The next episode to shoot stars Robert Sheehan as a teenager called Stephen. He is convinced that the palliative care nurse Charlotte, played by Sheridan Smith, who is assigned to look after his mother, has a very different agenda. Stephen becomes increasingly paranoid about the welfare of his younger brother Dom played by Josh Bolt and is at odds with his father, Peter, played by John Bishop.
But is Stephen stricken by grief or by something else? This episode is written by Danny Brocklehurst (Exile, The Street) and Jimmy McGovern.
Accused was re-commissioned by BBC One Controller, Danny Cohen, and Ben Stephenson, Controller of Drama Commissioning, and is executive produced for the BBC by Polly Hill, Head of Independent Drama. Sita Williams is the producer and she executive produces with Jimmy McGovern and Roxy Spencer for RSJ Films. The series directors are David Blair (The Street, Accused) and Ashley Pierce (Downton Abbey).
The first two episodes of this new four-part series will film before Christmas. The second two episodes complete filming in February 2012. Further details and casting to come.
Olivia Colman returns as a thoroughly modern vicar’s wife in the second series of Rev. The versatile actress reveals why she thinks the first series struck such a chord, how she’s beginning to turn into her Green Wing character and what she had to do to prepare for her role as Carol Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
Olivia Colman is as warm and friendly as you might expect a vicar’s wife to be. But her character in the BBC Two series Rev is a million miles away from the stereotypical clergyman’s spouse.
Alex is a hotshot lawyer with cases to fight rather than cakes to bake, and that’s precisely why the first series of the comedy – which stars Tom Hollander as harassed vicar Adam – was such a success.
“Vicars that we’ve met like the fact they’re shown to be normal humans and not ‘holier than thou’ and soulless,” says 37-year-old Colman, between mouthfuls of lunch in a break from filming at a church in east London.
Fresh from winning a Bafta for the first series, the cast has gathered again to film the next chapter in the life of the vicar of St Saviour’s.
Their dressing rooms are in a disused church just around the corner from St Leonard’s in Shoreditch, which doubles as St Saviour’s on-screen. So their canteen fittingly has stained glass windows, which are shining a hallowed light down on the tea and coffee.
As a mother of two, Colman is particularly delighted to be working on location so close to home.
“You actually get home at a normal time,” says the Norfolk-born actress, who now lives in south London. “You can usually get home before the kids are asleep. Otherwise you end up leaving before everyone’s awake and coming back after they’re in bed and you never see anybody.”
Colman has also starred in hit comedy Peep Show for eight years as Mark’s tormented love interest Sophie and so is used to trekking back and forth to set every day.
“It used to be filmed in Croydon, which was brilliant, and then the year I had to turn up with a newborn baby they moved it!” she exclaims.
Today, she’s delighted to be catching up on the gossip with the Rev cast and crew. “It’s a shame you have to film anything on the first day because you want to catch up with everybody you’ve missed for a year,” she says.
The Rev crew are all riding high on their Bafta success, but also the audience’s warm response.
“People have really taken it to their hearts and asked, ‘Is there going to be another series?’ Terribly positive, very nice,” says Colman.
In the first series, Alex was mostly shown dashing off to work or coming home late from her job as a solicitor. But in the new series we’ll see more of their home life in the vicarage.
As it opens we see Adam bracing himself for a visit from the in-laws as Alex’s parents come to stay, and there is also a visit from one of Alex and Adam’s godchildren, which doesn’t quite go to plan.
Colman sympathises that looking after children who are not your own can be challenging. “I don’t think I could possibly have looked after a five-year-old before having children,” she says.
Despite her devotion to her work in the previous series, Alex is eager to start a family herself and is putting extra demands on Adam to help her get pregnant.
The actress, meanwhile, is finding balancing her acting work with bringing up her two children easier now they are at school.
She recalls taking them to work with her when they were younger, conjuring up an image similar to her flustered character Harriet Schulenburg in Green Wing, who was forever frantically trying to juggle her children with the office job.
Colman’s professional life is showing no sign of slowing down. She has recently finished shooting the highly-anticipated film The Iron Lady, in which she plays Carol Thatcher, opposite Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher.
As part of her research for the role, Colman had to watch hours of footage of Carol Thatcher battling it out in the Australian jungle in 2005’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
“I watched all of I’m a Celebrity – she came across brilliantly. She was hilarious. And if you’re ever going to be stuck in the jungle you’d want her on your team.
“She was favourite to lose and then she ended up storming it because she was just so gung-ho. She was amazing – very funny.”
She has also just been seen on screen in Paddy Considine’s critically-acclaimed film Tyrannosaur. A gritty drama about a victim of domestic violence, the film won Colman rave reviews and several awards including the special jury prize for breakout performance at the Sundance Film Festival.
There are sure to be many more roles heading her way and fans will be praying for a third series of Rev. Perhaps showing the Reverend coping with parenthood?
“I think acting with a baby would be quite stressful,” says Colman. “But then I could always come into the vicarage just as the baby’s fallen asleep.”
You’re playing a vicar’s wife – do you believe in God?
I don’t. I don’t think anyone is silly to believe in God, I just can’t make that leap myself. People should try to be the best person they can be, regardless of religion.
What about the afterlife?
That’s where it becomes tricky. Recently, my mum’s dog died and my children were upset, so I said he’d gone to doggy heaven. They can choose where they want to go with it when they’re older. I don’t know if that was the right thing to do.
What was playing Carol Thatcher like?
In telly, there’s a lot to be done in a short amount of time; there’s more space in film. Time to sit around reading magazines. It was great fun to play someone recognisable. You don’t want people to say ‘that was a rubbish impersonation’ but I’m not an impressionist. It’s quite a difficult line. You have to get the gist and go with it. It’s a work of fiction. The characters appear, you know their names but it’s all conjecture.
Meryl Streep played the Iron Lady…
She was amazing and brilliant. A very funny woman and it was really nice to realise how jovial she is on set. She really is as good as you think she’s going to be.
Who have you learned the most from?
Paddy Considine on Tyrannosaur. He gives you the courage to throw yourself into the role and be brave. A lot is to do with him acting himself and how he says the right things to make you see the role in the right way. Being an actor can be strangely embarrassing, you have to do your job with everyone watching and Paddy gives you the courage not to be embarrassed.
You must be pleased with the reception Tyrannosaur got…
Yes, it was thrilling. We were all very passionate about working on it so it would have been awful if people said they didn’t like it. It’s really about perceptions and how, when we judge by appearances, we’re invariably wrong.
Why did you want to become an actor?
I was s*** at everything else. I’d be screwed if work dried up. I was Jean Brodie in The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie when I was 16. It was my first school play and I knew I wanted to try to make a living from acting from then. I really liked the clapping at the end and pretending to be someone else.
Have you seen Hanna? What did you think of your Rev co-star Tom Hollander’s performance in it?
I did. Wasn’t he different? Really, really nasty. I’ve seen most things he’s done – I’m a fan of Tom’s and he wants to be different in each role.
Do you fancy playing a sadistic German pervert yourself?
Of course – who doesn’t? Playing a proper baddie is one of the most fun things you can do.
What was your first professional job?
A Theatre in Education production of The Miser. I got £25 a fortnight but it was good fun going around the country in a van getting drunk after shows. We were rubbish. The children spent a lot of time wondering what was going on because there were four actors playing 14 parts. Lots of wigs going on back to front. I don’t think we enlightened the kids at all.
Is it easy to get a career in TV comedy if you go to Oxford or Cambridge?
It would appear so but I went to the teacher training college, I never matriculated. You still have to do the work and put the hours in. Robert Webb and David Mitchell wrote for 12 hours a day. They earned their place. There are people from all sorts of places and backgrounds working in comedy. People just pick up on the Oxford and Cambridge thing.
What other TV shows would you like to be in?
I’m desperate to be in Downton Abbey. There are good drama shows all the time – things like Any Human Heart. People say there’s nothing on and no drama but actually, when you look at it, there’s s***loads.
Have you had any onstage mishaps?
I’ve dried spectacularly. Where you get the look of terror in your eyes and the other actors look at you and think: ‘Oh God, she’s forgotten her lines.’ When that happens it always looks like the other person’s fault even though they’re rescuing you. It looks to the audience like they’re getting it wrong. That happened to me at the Olivier in front of 1,000 people a couple of years ago.
Has it put you off?
I find theatre terrifying but I have said I’m going to do another play soon.
What’s the worst job you’ve had?
I worked in Gap for two weeks. I was pretty terrible. One lady couldn’t find any jeans that suited her and I told her to go to John Lewis down the road. One of the managers heard me and wasn’t impressed. That was the last on the long list of being late and not pouncing on people as they came through the door saying: ‘Hey! How are you doing?’