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?’
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