If you have even a smidgen of taste in comedy then you’ll already be familiar with Olivia Colman, who played Mark’s on-off (mostly off) girlfriend in Peep Show, PC Doris Thatcher in Hot Fuzz and harassed mum-of-many Harriet Schulenberg in Green Wing. Lately, however, Colman’s career has begun to move into more serious drama with films such as Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur and the Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady.
Tyrannosaur is a drama about domestic abuse in which Colman plays a Christian charity worker who seeks escape from her violent husband James (Eddie Marsan) through a friendship with alcoholic widower James (Peter Mullan). The film has already stormed its way through Sundance, picking up the Directing Award and Special Jury Prize, and rumours are abound that it could do equally well at this year’s BAFTAs.
However, I went into this interview straight after watching Studio Ghibli’s latest animated adventure Arrietty, based on the timeless children’s novel The Borrowers by Mary Norton. Colman provided the UK voiceover for the character of Homily, the hand-wringing, fretful mother of the title character who would probably benefit greatly from “borrowing” some Xanax. Despite her fits of anxiety, the character is incredibly endearing and Arrietty is every bit as beautiful and heart-warming as the world has come to expect from a Studio Ghibli film.
Bleeding Cool: What was the dubbing process like for Arrietty? Were you recording alongside the other actors.
Olivia Colman: No, well I certainly didn’t meet any other actors, so I heard what they’d recorded and then I did my bit. I don’t know if anyone else met but it’s funny, I can’t wait to see it so I can see if it works or not. It’s a funny feeling, having a chat but not ever meeting anybody.
BC: Had you read the book before?
OC: Yes, and we’ve got the audiobook in the car that my kids listen to and I remember reading it when I was very little. I remember seeing the film, you know the Jim Broadbent film, years ago when that came out and I loved it.
BC: Had you heard that they’ve also recorded another English-language version, but with American accents for the US audience?
OC: Yes, I’d just learnt that, it’s great! So you get your own accents for your own regions. It’s nice to have a little reminder of the Englishness of it when it’s set in that beautiful Japanese garden.
BC: The next big release for you is Tyrannosaur, directed by Paddy Considine. How did you get involed with the project?
OC: Apparently, Paddy says, we met during Hot Fuzz, and when he turned up for his first rehearsal I was terribly excited that Paddy Considine was about to walk through the door, and I jumped up and grinned at him and opened the door for him, and he says that was the moment when he thought “Oh she’ll do for the film.”
I don’t why know why he did that but I’m very pleased he did. He was thinking at the time for a short and he was looking for someone to play my character. Luckily he stuck with it and I did the feature as well.
BC: It sounds like a very intense story and it covers a lot of sensitive subjects. How did you prepare for the role?
OC: I’m not sure that you can, really. He’s written it so beautifully and the characters are so multi-dimensional that you just have to throw yourself in and go with it. That sounds a bit vague, but it’s so beautifully written that you just have to imagine what it would be like to be that unhappy or that happy … [Laughs]. It’s not great, is it? I would be a rubbish drama teacher.
BC: Did you do a lot of rehearsal beforehand?
OC: Not really, we sat and talked a bit, and you felt very secure and trusted him, and you just walked through where’d you think you might move to. He said, “I don’t want you to fix it, I don’t want you to feel stuck, you don’t have to say any of the lines yet, we’ll wait until everyone’s ready and then you can just go.” So as long as you didn’t let it out of the room in the middle of a speech and hope the camera would follow you … I found it quie scary initially, because I’m used to parameters, but it was a lovely experience.
BC: Tyrannosaur has already done very well at Sundance, are you now looking forward to the BAFTAs?
OC: I don’t know. It’ll be nice to see how the general public take to it and I think they’ll love it. I’m so … if someone says they don’t like it I’m not sure I’m going to be able to cope, because I was so passionate about it. I really hope people love it as much as we do and I don’t suppose it matters about awards. If anyone comes out with, “yeah, it was alright, ” I don’t know what I’ll say. I think it’s going to be a love or a hate thing, a Marmite thing.
BC: Paddy started out as an actor and became quite well known for doing that before he started to make the move into writing and directing. Would you ever make the move behind the camera?
OC: Ooh, no! No, it’s never even crossed my mind, and I think that if, by 37, it hasn’t crossed my mind then there’s a good reason for that. Some people are good at it and some people aren’t and I think I would be in the latter camp. I don’t think I could bear the responsibility.
BC: You’ve got another very interesting film coming out, The Iron Lady. Did you have any scenes with Meryl Streep?
OC: Yes, all my scenes are with Meryl. It was an amazing experience and completely different to Tyrannosaur, because it was a much bigger budget and a lot more, sort of, organised, I suppose, and I lot of waiting for the right lights to be done. So it was a really different way of doing things but interesting and very exciting to be part of it. I have only seen little bits of it in ADR, I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve seen lots of Tyrannosaur, I’ve seen it a few times when we went to Sundance together, but I haven’t seen Iron Lady yet. From what I have seen it looks very exciting and Meryl is, as you’d imagine, amazing!
BC: You’re already very well known for comedy, with TV series like Peep Show, but now it seems you’re doing a lot more serious drama. Was that a move you chose to make or did it just work out that way?
OC: No, it’s just turned out that way, it’s not a conscious decision. I started out just wanting to be an actor and it ended up that I did a lot of comedy first, which was brilliant because you get to laugh all day at work! So yes, I’m loving the fact that I’m getting more stuff to do now, but it’s just the way it’s worked out, really.
BC: What’s next for you?
OC: At the moment I’m just finishing Rev, which is a telly series about a vicar, and I’m just about to start a film with Bill Murray called Hyde Park on Hudson, which is really fun, but luckily it’s all set in England. It’s meant to be America but they’ve found places that look like it here, so I don’t have to go away!
Arrietty is in UK cinemas this Friday, June 29th, with Tyrannosaur to follow in early October and The Iron Lady coming along in January (or December, apparently, in the US).
Nine years after her death, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother is the subject of much competition in the film world.
After she was portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech, Queen Elizabeth will be played by Olivia Colman in Hyde Park on Hudson, about George VI’s 1939 visit to President Franklin Roosevelt in New York.
The actress, 37, who appeared in Peep Show, is not concerned about comparisons with Bonham Carter. “Our performances are going to be so very different that it would be pointless to compare the two,” she says.
In Madonna’s film about the 1936 Edward VIII abdication crisis, W.E., Queen Elizabeth will be played by Natalie Dormer.
Here’s the first UK poster for the next Studio Ghibli picture, Arrietty. It has been adapted from Mary Norton‘s The Borrowers by Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa and director Hiromasa Yonebayashi. As you’d expect, it looks wonderful.
And it will sound pretty good too – note that the UK dubbed version will feature a different (and indeed, preferable) voice cast to the US iteration. We in blighty will get Saoirse Ronan, Olivia Colman, Mark Strong and Phyllida Law.
Oh, and somebody the poster calls Tom Holland. I wonder if they mean Tom Hollander? Because Tom Holland, writer-director Fright Night and Child’s Play seems like an odd match. Oops typo.
UPDATE: A subsequent press release refers to “newcomer Tom Holland”, so that settles that.
Anyway, a good cast. The US get Bridgit Mendler, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett – none of whom exactly seem to match the setting or tone so well. Score one to Optimum, the UK distributors.
Having said all of that, I’ll still opt for a subtitled version, personally.
The film will go on release on July 29th, though Picture House Cinemas will be screening it as their Kid’s Club in the 23rd. Adults will need to have a kid with them, but there’s a lot of Little Bleeders with families, I know.
Let’s score Optimum another point for getting the film out this year. US audiences will be waiting until February 2012. If I were in the States I’d start shopping for a multi-region Blu-ray player now.
I have updated the gallery with photos from the recent British Academy Television Craft Awards click the picture to see them
Exile (cert. 15) will be released as a two-disc DVD (£19.99) by FremantleMedia Enterprises on 13th June 2011.
Exile, new BBC drama starring John Simm (Life on Mars, State of Play), Olivia Colman (Peep Show, Green Wing), Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rouge, Iris) and Clare Goose (The Bill, Waking the Dead) is on UK DVD from Monday.
“Superbly written” and featuring “uniformly excellent” (The Sunday Telegraph) performances by a top-notch cast, Exile is both a “taut psychological thriller” (The Guardian) and an intimate, moving portrayal of a father and son’s relationship that will keep viewers hooked throughout
The new two-disc DVD edition of the series features an in depth making-of documentary. Here’s a short behind-the-scenes montage from this extended extra feature…
Sam Jones from Cult labs has been kind enough to send me this clip from Exile which also includes a lovely interview with her about her role in the miniseries. Olivia is amazing in this so don’t forget to pre-order it on DVD
The amazing Exile is coming to DVD on June 13th in the UK and can now be pre-ordered from all good UK distributers if you get it from the link below you will help to support this site:
King George VI, aka Bertie, and Queen Elizabeth are to be the focus on the big screen again after the Oscar and Bafta success of The King’s Speech.
Samuel West and Olivia Colman are in negotiations to portray the couple on a visit to President Franklin Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt — the first time a reigning British monarch had ever set foot on U.S. soil.
It was the dawning of what has become the special relationship.
Bertie and his Queen did the formal state visit to Washington with much pomp and ceremony, but then the President invited the royals for an informal get-together over hot dogs, smoked turkey, beer and soft drinks at the Roosevelts’ family home, Springwood, in Hyde Park, upstate New York.
The two couples dined casually on the front porch, and the following day they had a picnic.
The film’s called Hyde Park On Hudson, and will star Bill Murray as Roosevelt. It’s based on a radio play by Richard Nelson and was developed into a feature film by Film4 and Focus Features.
Director Roger Michell and producer Kevin Loader have had the movie in mind for some time. The film-makers told me about their plans for Hyde Park On Hudson several years ago, when they were shooting Venus with Peter O’Toole and Jodie Whittaker.
So, to be fair, they’re not just jumping on the King’s Speech bandwagon.
Indeed, the meeting of the Roosevelts and the Windsors is only part of the story.
The film will also explore Roosevelt’s ‘intimate friendship’ with his cousin Margaret Suckley, whom FDR affectionately called ‘Daisy’. Laura Linney is in the final stages of discussions about portraying Daisy in the film, which will begin shooting in July on locations in the UK (not the U.S.). Location scouts are looking for suitably splendid mansions with plenty of grounds to replicate the Roosevelt estate near Poughkeepsie.
‘We’re working to secure a brilliant cast,’ producer Loader told me.
Ms Colman is shooting a second series of BBC comedy Rev, and the hope is she’ll be available for Hyde Park On Hudson. She gives one of the year’s best screen performances so far opposite Peter Mullan in Paddy Considine’s movie Tyrannosaur.
Can you remember when you first read the script what attracted you to the role?
I loved the fact that my character was left behind to care for her father, missed out on stuff but always managed to be positive. She wasn’t one of life’s doormats and I don’t enjoy playing doormats really, so I liked the fact that she’d had a bit of a tough time but she was still sparky, ballsy and quite funny.
Had you worked with Danny Brocklehurst before or Paul Abbott?
No, I was familiar with Danny’s work but I hadn’t worked with him before. He’d come on set occasionally; he was such a warm presence to have about. He wasn’t remotely awkward about anything – he was a really easy writer to have around.
There are some really funny moments. Various members of the crew and cast who have had various members of their families’ suffer from Alzheimer’s were saying that sometimes the funniest stuff comes out. You have to laugh at some point – if you’re caring for people like that you have got to find humour – and that’s exactly what Danny managed to do in his writing.
Do you have any personal experience of Alzheimer’s?
No, not directly. My mum, who is retired, was a nurse and she specialised in geriatric care and some of her patients had Alzheimer’s but I’ve never had any relatives who have had it. I know friends whose parents have had it but not me – not yet anyway.
Can you tell us a little bit about your character?
Nancy was 16 when her big brother left and at that point their father was lucid and fine – albeit distraught as everything was going a bit wrong.
She probably did further education but maybe had to leave at some point or straight afterwards. She was at a college local to home as she was probably aware that their Dad was lonely, she couldn’t exactly leave him like her brother had.
It then became clear that he wasn’t himself, she was staying in to look after him, at which point the snowball effect happened and she was stuck. She seems to be a very uncomplaining person, she’s pretty cool and quite a tough cookie.
How would you describe her relationship with Tom when he comes back? Is she angry or resentful?
A bit, but not that much really. She’s eager to jump if he complains about anything. He doesn’t seem to realise that it was much harder for her to leave, he was 16 and she was younger.
But they slip straight back in to getting on very well and it’s kind of sad, you wonder where could they be if that whole episode hadn’t happened or if there had never been any lies. They could have been equally looking after their father and it’s sad to imagine where they’d be if things had turned out differently.
When times were good at home and their mum was alive they probably got on very well and laughed a lot.
How was it to work with Jim and with John? Had you worked with them before?
I’d worked with Jim on Hot Fuzz before, but I’d never worked with John, although I think I’ve probably seen everything he’s ever been in. I was really excited to find out that John and I really did get on very well, we swapped funny videos of our kids and just had a ball really.
Are there any moments that spring to mind from filming? You did a scene in the supermarket when Jim takes a turn, how was that to shoot?
That was quite fun. I had to just fall back on a crash mat – nothing terribly dramatic. Jim struggling in the bath was funny – poor Jim, having to go under water. We laughed a lot at things on set.
How long were you filming for?
Not that long, I was up and down to Manchester no more than three nights on the trot at the time. The weirdest thing with Claire Goose, who I loved, was that her mum and my mum were best friends at school – small world!
I took board games on set as Jim loves board games – Chronology was our favourite, although Jim’s a bit too good, he can win in one go!
Source: bbc.co.uk – Exile press release