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?’
Olivia Colman has confessed she’s worried about what Carol Thatcher will make of her portrayal of her in an upcoming film.
The Rev star plays Margaret Thatcher’s daughter in The Iron Lady, alongside Meryl Streep as the steely former Prime Minister.
“I’m not a terribly good impersonator so… hopefully people will allow some artistic licence,” Olivia revealed.
“Apparently (Carol)’s watching it! She’s going to watch a cut of it! I didn’t meet her, so I hope she doesn’t mind it. She’s a very sweet character in the film.”
And Olivia revealed she researched her character by watching hours of footage of Carol on the 2005 series of 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,” the actress added.
“She was favourite to lose and then she ended up storming it because she was just so gung-ho. She was amazing – very funny.”
:: The new series of Rev begins on BBC Two on Thursday November 10.
The BAFTA award-winning comedy about a vicar living in a deprived inner-city borough returns for a second series. TV Choice speaks to Tom Hollander, who plays the Rev Adam Smallbone, and Olivia Colman, who plays his wife Alex
At then end of the last series Adam’s faith was looking wobbly. How is he now?
Tom Hollander: In the first episode Adam is at a religious retreat, a place of contemplation, getting back in touch with the reasons he became a vicar. It goes well and quickly he’s back in the world of his parish, but it’s not long before he’s under pressure again when he becomes a have-a-go hero entirely by accident, and then gets nominated for a special award he knows he really ought to turn down.
The real-life clergy seem to love your warts-and-all image of a city vicar. Did you expect such a warm reception from the Church?
Tom Hollander: People in the clergy are not used to seeing themselves portrayed as essentially the good guys, which is really what Adam is. We feel we have accidentally made large shoes with this show, but all we set out to do was make a TV series. We were thrilled and surprised that it was so successful.
Olivia Colman: We talk about the BAFTA every day!
Do the clergy recognise the smarmy Arch Deacon Robert as being a realistic character?
Tom Hollander: He’s the one people have said is an exaggeration. But other people have said, ‘Did you base him on my arch-deacon?’
Would you make a good vicar?
Tom Hollander: I don’t think so. But I thought about it when I was a choirboy at prep school. When I was about nine years old, I once read the lesson. I thought I was quite good at public speaking. I waited for every single last person to kneel before I started and enunciated very clearly. Someone said, ‘ I think he might be a bishop,’ which sounded good to me. Probably everyone else thought I was an idiot!
You film in a real church. Is that strange?
Tom Hollander: After a while we forget ourselves. Once, two of the crew started an impromptu game of cricket while we we waiting for a scene to be set up. Olivia got properly upset.
Olivia Colman: It felt wrong! There was too much ‘Owzat!’ going on.
Tom Hollander: And one of them was the son of a clergyman.
Why does Adam persevere with trying to revive this massive but empty church?
Tom Hollander: We are all used to thinking of our country as a strange rackety compromised version of how it used to be — staggering into a future that is uncertain, full of glorious memories of the past that nothing in the present can quite match up. Yet loving it all the same.
The Church of England is a good index of all that, with all its beautiful buildings that can’t be maintained, but yet you want them to be. You can see the past in the church as well, which is a reason I like it that Adam is trying to keep the temple there.
The church where we film — St. Leonard’s in Shoreditch, east London — is full of plaques to people in the history of London. Richard Burbage, the famous actor, is buried there, and James Parkinson, the man who discovered Parkinson’s Disease. The font was built to commemorate people who died in the Battle of the Somme, carved out of a single piece of marble that was polished in Cable Street.
So the past is there and whoever the vicar is, in any historical church anywhere in the country, is presiding over this continuity. These buildings represent so much.
Are there new faces to look out for in the show?
Tom Hollander: Sylvia Syms comes in as an old lady.
Olivia Colman: And Alex’s dad arrives. But we can’t tell you who plays him because it would spoil the surprise.And Olivia’s dad. He is a raving atheist and thinks religion is all nonsense. He’s also quite right wing and he thinks the way Adam wants to help people is all a bit distasteful. He’s grumpy, cutting and awkward to have in the house.
Tom Hollander: He thinks Adam isn’t good enough. They don’t have long theological discussions. It’s too tense for that.
Why does the relationship between Alex and Adam work?
Olivia Colman: Their relationship works because there is a deep-seated admiration for each other and they genuinely love each other, so whatever gets thrown at them they have to remember that. They always seem to remember that why they are together. And they make each other laugh.
What are you up to next?
Olivia Colman: I’ve got a few things coming up over the next few months.
Tom Hollander: I’ve no plans at present — unlike Olivia, who is going to be everywhere over the next few months. Not only is she in a new movie, Tyrannosaur, she’s playing Carol Thatcher in Iron Lady in January, and in the film Hyde Park On Hudson with Bill Murray playing Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. She’s the real star!
Last summer, a matter of weeks after the first series of Rev came off the air, its co-creators, the actor Tom Hollander and the writer James Wood, were invited to do a Q&A session at Greenbelt, Britain’s largest Christian festival. Safe in the knowledge that a second series had been commissioned, they took a camera and Olivia Colman (who plays Alex, the long-suffering wife of Hollander’s Reverend Adam Smallbone) with them, just in case they might be able to film some footage that they could use at a later date. But within minutes of their arrival it became quite clear that this would be impossible. ‘Tom might as well have been Mick Jagger,’ Colman laughs. ‘He was mobbed.’
A stealth success, Rev generated an average of two million viewers a week and quickly became BBC Two’s highest-rating new comedy. An intelligent British sitcom in the manner of Peep Show and The Thick Of It, it follows the life of the Rev Smallbone, a hapless figure with a good heart, as he takes on the challenges of an inner-city east London ministry at St Saviour in the Marshes and all the grim realities that come with it.
Directed by Peter Cattaneo (of Full Monty fame), this was entirely different to any twee, bucolic picture of a Christian calling that might have been painted in the past. Gritty and urban, with a sophisticated vein of dry humour running through it, Rev’s greatest achievement was to give a real, human face to a modern man of the cloth. Critical praise for its gently comic tackling of pertinent issues – from the middle-class stampede for church school places (‘On your knees, avoid the fees’) to the terrifying lack of ecclesial funds – was unanimous. Even Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, publicly declared it ‘really rather good’.
Within weeks of the first series ending, Rev, which went on to win the 2011 Bafta for Best Sitcom, had been recommissioned. Less than a year later, the case is assembled on the pews of St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch, London, trying to stifle giggles as Cattaneo reworks a Christmas table scene into a pastiche of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
This is the culmination of the Christmas special, which Wood has co-written with Sam Bain, one of the award-winning writers of Peep Show. Even Geoffrey Palmer, the veteran of British comedy, is here, in all his grizzled glory, for a one-off appearance as Hollander’s father-in-law. The other faces are reassuringly familiar from series one: Miles Jupp (who plays the perniciously ambitious lay reader, Nigel), Simon McBurney (the smoothly sinister social-climbing archdeacon – ‘Can’t stop. Off to Chris Hitchens’s book launch’), Steve Evets (Colin, the hard-drinking lovable lost soul), Ellen Thomas (cassock-chasing church matriarch Adoah).
Congratulations to Olivia who won an award for her performance in Tyrannosaur at the Chicago International Film Festival
Silver Hugo for Best Actress to Olivia Colman in TYRANNOSAUR (UK) for an outstanding performance hitting every note showing her vulnerability, her power and her humor.
For the first time since its renaming and refurbishment, one of Noël Coward’s most well known plays will be performed at the Noël Coward Theatre. Howard Davies is to direct Lindsay Duncan in Coward’s Hay Fever, reuniting the director and actor who together received seven major international theatre awards for their 2001 collaboration on Coward’s Private Lives. Duncan is joined by Jeremy Northam, Kevin McNally and Olivia Colman in Coward’s sublime comedy of bad manners.
Running at the Noël Coward Theatre from 10 February – 2 June 2012, Hay Fever has designs by Bunny Christie, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Mike Walker. Press preview performances are Thursday 23 February at 7pm, Friday 24 February and Saturday 25 February at 2.30pm and 7.30pm, with reviews embargoed until Monday 27 February 2012. Hay Fever is produced in the West End by Richard Willis, Matthew Byam Shaw for Playful Productions and Sonia Friedman Productions. Further casting will be announced shortly.
Judith Bliss, once glittering star of the London stage, now in early retirement, is still enjoying life with more than a little high drama and the occasional big scene. To spice her weekend up, Judith invites a young suitor to join her in the country. However, her novelist husband, David, and her two eccentric children, Simon and Sorel, have had the same idea for themselves and any hope for private flirtation disappears as the family’s guests begin to arrive. Misjudged meetings, secret seductions and scandalous revelations all run riot at the most outrageous of all house parties.
In 1920 Noël Coward made his stage debut at what was then known as the New Theatre in his own first play, I’ll Leave It To You. In 1973 the theatre was renamed the Albery and subsequently, in 2001, Lindsay Duncan and Alan Rickman played Amanda and Elyot in Coward’s Private Lives to great critical acclaim. In June 2006 the theatre was renamed once again as the Noël Coward Theatre when the building underwent major refurbishment including the naming of the two principal dressing rooms as Noël and Gertie, the latter being Coward’s favourite leading lady, Gertrude Lawrence.
Cameron Mackintosh said: “I’m delighted to be able to have our first Coward play at the theatre since it was renamed after The Master. Truly one of Noël’s masterpieces, Hay Fever promises to be as great an evening at this theatre as Howard Davies’ Private Lives a few years ago, also starring the delicious Lindsay Duncan. I am also delighted to welcome to the salon of the Prince of Wales Theatre, Noël’s beloved grand piano on which he composed so many of his wonderful songs. His talent to amuse lives on forever.”
Playwright, composer, director and actor Noël Coward wrote Hay Fever in 1924 and it was first produced a year later at the Ambassadors Theatre. Coward wrote over 50 plays during his career including Private Lives, Design for Living, Present Laughter, Blithe Spirit and Hay Fever. His many compositions include Mad Dogs and Englishmen, A Room with a View and Mrs Worthington, and his film credits include Brief Encounter, The Vortex and The Italian Job. Coward was knighted in 1970.
Double Olivier award-winner Lindsay Duncan (Judith Bliss) has worked extensively for The National Theatre where her credits include Plenty, The Homecoming and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and for the Royal Shakespeare Company in productions including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Les Liaisons Dangereuses. In the West End she has been seen in The Cryptogram, That Face and Noel Coward’s Private Lives. For the Royal Court her credits include the original production of Top Girls as well as Ashes to Ashes and Mouth to Mouth. For The Almeida Theatre her credits include Celebration and The Room. On television she has recently appeared as Alex Cairns in Black Mirror – The National Anthem and The Duchess of York in Rupert Goold’s Richard II. Her other television credits also include White Heat, Dr Who, the title role in Margaret, as well as Lost in Austen, Longford, Rome, Shooting the Past and Perfect Strangers, The Rector’s Wife, A Year in Provence, GBH and Traffik. Her film credits include Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Starter For Ten, Mansfield Park, An Ideal Husband and Prick Up Your Ears.
Olivier award-wining Jeremy Northam (Richard Greatham) was most recently on stage at the Donmar Warehouse in Old Times. His other theatre credits include Love’s Labour’s Lost and The Country Wife for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Certain Young Men for The Almeida Theatre and The Voysey Inheritance at The National Theatre. He has most recently been seen on television in Stephen Poliakoff’s Glorious 39 and as Thomas Moore in The Tudors. His other television credits include White Heat and Journey’s End. Northam’s film credits include Creation, Dean Spanley, A Cock and Bull Story, Gosford Park (in which he played Ivor Novello), The Winslow Boy, An Ideal Husband, Happy Texas, Possession, Emma, The Net and Carrington.
Kevin McNally’s (David Bliss) most recent stage credits were as Claudius in Hamlet and Lebedev in Ivanov, both for the Donmar Warehouse at Wyndham’s Theatre. Previously his extensive theatre credits include Boeing Boeing, The Lady in the Van, Naked, Dead Funny and The Iceman Cometh. On television he can soon be seen in ITV1’s Downton Abbey. His other television credits include New Tricks, Life On Mars, Margaret, Bloodlines, Dunkirk, Spooks, Shackleton, Rab C Nesbitt, Enigma and Diana. McNally’s many film credits include the role of Joshamee Gibbs, Captain Jack Sparrow’s first mate in The Pirates of the Caribbean films, The Raven (to be released next Spring), Valkyrie, De-Lovely, The Phantom of the Opera, Johnny English, Sliding Doors, Irish Jam and Entrapment.
Olivia Colman’s (Myra Arundel) theatre credits include England People Very Nice for The National Theatre, The Three Some for the Lyric Hammersmith and A Long Day’s Journey Into Night at the Lyric Theatre. Her upcoming film credits include The Iron Lady directed by Phylidda Lloyd and Hyde Park on Hudson. Her other film credits include Tyrannosaur, Dog Altogether, Grow Your Own, I Could Never Be Your Woman and Hot Fuzz. On television she is best known for playing Sophie Chapman in the Peep Show series and Harriet Schulenburg in the Green Wing series. Her other television credits include The Baader Meinhof Gang series, Exile, Doctor Who, Beautiful People, Consuming Passion, That Mitchell and Webb Look, Hancock and Joan, Love Soup, Much Ado About Nothing, Ny-Lon and The Office.
Multi award-winning Howard Davies is an Associate Director of The National Theatre where his many productions include The Cherry Orchard, The White Guard, Burnt by the Sun, The Taking Cure, Flight, Present Laughter and Mourning Becomes Electra. For The Almeida Theatre, where he was also Associate Director, his productions include Period of Adjustment, The Play About the Baby, The Iceman Cometh and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? At the Royal Shakespeare Company he produced 26 new plays in 4 years at The Warehouse Theatre which he established and ran. His other RSC credits include The General from America, Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Jail Diary of Albie Sachs. In the West End Davies’ directing credits include All My Sons, The Breath of Life and Noel Coward’s Private Lives. His many Broadway transfers include A Moon for the Misbegotten, The Iceman Cometh, My Fair Lady, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
Dates: 10 February – 2 June 2012
Press performances: 23 February at 7pm, 24 February at 7.30pm, 25 February at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Reviews embargoed until 27 February
Address: Noël Coward Theatre
St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4AU
Performances: Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm
Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm
First Wednesday matinee 29 February
Box Office: 0844 482 5140
Olivia Colman was relieved Meryl Streep wore prosthetics on the set of their new film about former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – because it made it easier to forget that she was working with the Oscar-winning star.
The Peep Show actress, 37, plays Carol Thatcher in the movie, The Iron Lady, which stars Jim Broadbent as her father Denis Thatcher and Meryl as her mother, Britain’s first female prime minister.
Olivia told Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour: “I couldn’t quite believe I was in the same room or city as Meryl Streep. I was quite grateful that she was covered in prosthetics so she didn’t quite look like her, otherwise I don’t think I would have been able to function at all.”
Olivia said Meryl perfected the voice of the former Tory leader, adding: “It’s spooky, its proper spine-chilling spooky, it’s brilliant.”
Even though she thought she would turn “to jelly” while working with the actress, she said: “Within moments I forgot that she was stratospherically wonderful…she’s a funny woman, who is very close to giggles at all times.
“She’s got nothing to prove so there’s no ego, she was lovely to be around.”
The Rev star did not meet Carol Thatcher before playing the role.
She said that she was “not an impressionist” but that the trick to sounding like her was “weak Rs”.
Olivia, who is also filming the role of Queen Elizabeth in Hyde Park On Hudson, the movie starring Bill Murray and Laura Linney, said of her future: “I hope to work until I can’t stand any more.”
Focus Features announced filming has begun on Hyde Park on Hudson starring Bill Murray and Laura Linney, and directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill). Richard Nelson wrote the script with Michell, Kevin Loader, and David Aukin producing.
The cast of the historical drama also includes Olivia Williams, Samuel West, Olivia Colman, Elizabeth Wilson, Elizabeth Marvel, and Eleanor Bron. Filming is taking place in the UK with Focus aiming for a late 2012 theatrical release.
Announcing the start of production, Focus Features CEO James Schamus said, “Filmgoers will be intrigued by this unique exploration of the all-too-human side of one of history’s great men. Roger is an actor’s director who will guide Bill and Laura through their playing of Richard’s script, which beautifully encompasses satire and drama.”
The official synopsis: “In June 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Murray) and his wife Eleanor (Williams) host the King and Queen of England (West and Colman) for a weekend at the Roosevelt home at Hyde Park on Hudson, in upstate New York – the first-ever visit of a reigning English monarch to America. With Britain facing imminent war with Germany, the Royals are desperately looking to FDR for support. But international affairs must be juggled with the complexities of FDR’s domestic establishment, as wife, mother, and mistresses all conspire to make the royal weekend an unforgettable one. Seen through the eyes of Daisy (Linney), Franklin’s distant cousin, neighbor, and intimate, the weekend will produce not only a special relationship between two great nations, but, for Daisy – and through her, for us all – a deeper understanding of the mysteries of love and friendship.”