The Favourite, a movie that is loosely based on historical fact, was always going to generate a big reaction at the Venice Film Festival.
Olivia Colman plays the frail and slightly unhinged early 18th century British monarch, Queen Anne, who jostles with two woman in a power struggle in her court as they vye for her sexual favour. Lady Sarah, the Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz), whose husband is away fighting the French, is effectively running the country. But when her conniving cousin the Queen’s new servant Sarah (Emma Stone) arrives, the naïve monarch is seduced by her charms.
For a second time this year Weisz has a woman-on-woman love scene after Disobedience with Rachel McAdams, while the film marks a follow-up too for Oscar winner Stone after her portrayal as Billie Jean King in Battle of the Sexes.
At The Favourite’s Venice press conference, the usually hilarious Colman (The Night Manager) was asked about the sexual politics in the historical film, to which she replied, “There was a lot of it!”
“That aspect of the film is timeless. We think we invented sex but we didn’t. It’s been going on for quite a long time. It was awfully fun having sex with Emma Stone.”
“It was really fun having sex with you too,” Stone quipped.
In the film, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer starring Nicole Kidman) Stone plays an educated aristocrat who has lost her status and will do anything to get it back. At the age of 15 her father lost her to a fat German with a thin penis in card game. She may be devious but she’s not evil, says Stone.
“She’s overcome a lot, she’s a survivor. I loved every element of getting to play her. In terms of the challenges for me I was the only American in the cast, so it was a bit daunting trying to make sure that the accent made sense. The corsets were a challenge too just because you can’t breathe all day.
“The whole cast had this three-week rehearsal process before we started shooting and it was far from traditional. We did a whole bunch of crazy stuff. We had to learn to be embarrassed in front of each other and rely on each other. I think by the time we were shooting we all felt very close and comfortable. When I had to have sex with the Queen, with Olivia, it was very comfortable. We were very good friends.”
I asked Colman, who is playing Queen Elizabeth in season three of The Crown, about playing two queens in one year.
“They’re not very similar,” she deadpanned, “and that’s good. We’ve started filming on The Crown and I’m having a lovely time, so I hope I don’t let you down when it comes out. I can’t really compare the two queens. I don’t think Queen Elizabeth learned anything from Queen Anne!”
I then suggested that the heavily bewigged Nicholas Hoult, whose brilliant blue eyes are offset by a stunning Sandy Powell royal blue costume, and Joe Alwyn (otherwise known as Taylor Swift’s beau) were playing women as well.
“It was fabulous!” replied Hoult.
Colman: “I just want to give you a visual of Nick who is 6’ 2” with heels and a foot and a half of wig! None of us could look at him when we were acting because it was just too funny.”
Alwyn added, “It was a lot of fun running around in wigs, in high heels and in fancy costumes. It’s every man’s dream!”
While the film’s story delves into the power that the three women held as they made decisions on a whim that could effect millions of people, can it also be seen as a statement about women’s empowerment post MeToo#?
“Obviously I don’t mind that idea, but we can’t take credit because we started the project many years ago,” Lanthimo replied. “I think the positive aspect of this film is that it focuses on three female characters, which is rare. But what we tried to do is portray them as human beings, because most of the time, given the prevalent male gaze in cinema, women are portrayed as housewives or girlfriends or objects of desire. So we tried to show them as complex and complicated, wonderful and horrific. They are like every other human being.”
Olivia Colman has been named the most powerful person in British television, according to a ranking by the Radio Times.
The actor, who will star as Queen Elizabeth II in the next series of Netflix’s The Crown, comes top of the magazine’s TV 100 power list, which attempts to rank the on-screen and behind-the-scenes individuals who have had an exceptional past year in British television.
Colman rose to prominence in Channel 4’s Peep Show before making award-winning performances in Broadchurch and The Night Manager. She is also due to star in the BBC’s forthcoming Les Misérables drama and as Strawberry in an adaptation of Watership Down.
Chris Chibnall, the new Doctor Who showrunner, takes second place, while third place is shared by siblings Daisy May and Charlie Cooper – the creators, writers and stars of BBC comedy This Country, which parodies rural life.
Other stars who make the top 10 include Declan Donnelly, who is preparing to host I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here without longt on-screen partner Ant McPartlin, BBC natural history presenter David Attenborough, and Luther star Idris Elba.
Hugh Grant is in seventh place following praise for his performance in A Very English Scandal, one spot above Vanessa Kirby, who won a Bafta for her portrayal of Princess Margaret in The Crown. Benedict Cumberbatch, who is preparing to play Vote Leave boss Dominic Cummings in a forthcoming Channel 4 drama, comes ninth following his performance in Sky’s Patrick Melrose, while Nicola Walker completes the top 10 after appearing in The Split and Unforgotten.
Other individuals to make the top 20 include Derry Girls writer Lisa McGee, BBC journalist Carrie Gracie, who helped campaign for equal pay, and Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan.
The list is drawn up by dozens of actors and industry executives from major broadcasters and independent production companies, including Sir Lenny Henry, ITV director of television Kevin Lygo, and Amazon’s director of original TV Georgia Brown. Radio Times editors then choose the final ranking.
Susanna Lazarus, RadioTimes.com associate editor, said: “At a time of rapid change in the way we watch TV, how appropriate that our list is topped by a brilliant performer who has starred in some of the biggest broadcast shows of recent times and is soon to become the queen of on-demand as the lead in Netflix’s The Crown.”
The top 20
- Olivia Colman
- Chris Chibnall
- Daisy May Cooper and Charlie Cooper
- Declan Donnelly
- Idris Elba
- David Attenborough
- Hugh Grant
- Vanessa Kirby
- Benedict Cumberbatch
- Nicola Walker
- Lisa McGee
- Gareth Southgate
- Carrie Gracie
- Richard Cowles
- Jodie Whittaker
- Laura Kuenssberg
- Romesh Ranganathan
- Gary Lineker
- Piers Morgan
- Lennie James
Since you’re here…
A new period drama starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz is to premiere during the BFI London Film Festival.
The Favourite will be shown on the event’s American Express Gala night at Cineworld in Leicester Square on October 18.
Directed by Academy Award-nominated director Yorgos Lanthimos, known for The Lobster, the film is set in the early 18th century against the backdrop of the war between England and France.
Colman plays Queen Anne, while Weisz portrays Lady Sarah, her close friend who governs the country while the tempestuous Queen is unwell.
However, Lady Sarah’s close bond with the Queen is threatened when charming new servant Abigail, played by Stone, arrives, and she sees a chance to return to her aristocratic roots.
The film also stars Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn, Mark Gatiss, James Smith and Jenny Rainsford.
BFI London Film Festival artistic director Tricia Tuttle said: “This is wickedly funny film-making from Yorgos Lanthimos, who is operating at virtuoso frequency.
“The Favourite is a delight from start to finish, powered by a trio of riotous performances from Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, who are all clearly revelling in the wit and rhythm of the script. The perfect Gala for our principal partner, American Express.”
The film festival kicks off on October 10 with Widows, directed by Steve McQueen and starring Viola Davis.
It ends on October 21, with Laurel and Hardy film Stan And Ollie, starring Steve Coogan and John C Reilly and directed by Filth director Jon S Baird.
The Favourite, the new Irish-produced film from The Lobster director Yorgos Lanthimos, which stars Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, is to receive its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival.
The period drama is the third collaboration between Greek director Lanthimos and Irish company Element Pictures, and follows their success with The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Lanthimos, Colman and Weisz previously worked together on The Lobster.
Set in the early 18th Century, The Favourite promises much in the way of political and personal intrigue involving Britain’s Queen Anne (Colman), the Duchess of Marlborough (Weisz) and her servant, Abigail Hill (Stone).
Sensing an opportunity to move back up the social ladder, Abigail becomes the Queen’s new companion and, we are told, “she will not let woman, man, politics or rabbit stand in her way”.
The Favourite will screen in competition at the Venice International Film Festival, which runs from August 29 to September 8.
It will be released worldwide by film studio Fox Searchlight, opening in US cinemas on November 23 – a key month in awards season – and in Ireland on January 1.
One of the film’s Irish producers, Element Pictures’ Ed Guiney, described Venice as “the ideal world premiere for Yorgos’ bold and audacious foray into period filmmaking”.
“We hope audiences will embrace this unique and entertaining film and we are delighted to be working with Fox Searchlight on its international release,” he added.
She plays Hildegarde Schmidt, handmaiden to Judi Dench’s character Princess Dragomiroff, and it sounds like she couldn’t have had a better experience on set.
“It was heaven,” she said, speaking on The Andrew Marr Show. “I sat next to Judi Dench all day, holding a dog. It was heaven!”
The Broadchurch actress was recently announced to be taking over the role of Queen Elizabeth II from Clare Foy in Netflix drama The Crown.
And Colman revealed all about just how excited she was to hear the news about her casting.
“I was on speaker phone in the car with my husband and we’d recently finished watching The Crown,” she said. “And my agent said, ‘Would you go and meet, as a secret, about a tiara?’
“She was trying to be subtle and I went ‘The Crown?! The Crown?! Oh my god yes!’ And my husband was silently clapping in the background.
“So we were quite excited – I was very excited!”
She and Murder on the Orient Express co-star Michelle Pfeiffer also spoke about the recent allegations surrounding Harvey Weinstein, with Colman pointing out that “women in their 20’s are purposefully targeted”.
Pfeiffer added: “I’ve had some experiences. I have to say since this has all come out, there really hasn’t been one woman that I’ve talked to who hasn’t had an experience.
“And it just goes to show you how systemic the problem is.”
Charting the life and times of the Windsor dynasty, The Crown season three will tackle a time jump for the biographical drama, and include a whole new cast.
Speaking to Radio Times, Colman revealed that she was nervous to take over from Foy to play the country’s longest-reigning monarch.
“She was just very supportive,” confirmed Colman. “She said I’ll have a lovely time, everyone on it is amazing; the voice coaching is impeccable… I’m just full of fear because you don’t want to be the one who screws it up.”
But it sounds like Foy is more than happy to leave behind some handy hints, as Colman added: “She’s lovely, and she said I can call her anytime.”
Foy has already passed her judgement on the casting, and thankfully, Colman’s fear seems to be equally outweighed by her excitement to take on the iconic role of Queen Elizabeth II.
“I have remained ridiculously excited since. I’m trying to be cool,” the Broadchurch and Murder on the Orient Express star said.
“My agent was trying to be subtle, not knowing who was in the car with me, and she went, ‘It’s something about a tiara’, and I went ‘Oh, it’s The Crown!'”
Foy will leave after season 2, leaving Colman as an older version of the Queen in season 3 and 4 of the The Crown.
With six seasons expected from Peter Morgan’s historical heart-warmer, it’s expected that Colman will portray Elizabeth II in the middle of her life.
But with season 2 of The Crown still yet to hit the streaming giant, fans of the show will have to wait until 2019 before they can see Colman pick up the sceptre.
The Crown returns for its second season on Netflix on Friday, December 8.
Olivia Colman says Claire Foy will be an “incredibly hard act to follow” on The Crown.
The star of Broadchurch and The Night Manager takes over the role of Queen Elizabeth II from Foy, who portrays her in the early years of her reign.
She said: “I’m so thrilled to be part of The Crown. I was utterly gripped watching it.”
Colman will be in series three and four of the show and is due to be seen in the role from 2019.
She paid tribute to her predecessor, saying: “I think Claire Foy is an absolute genius – she’s an incredibly hard act to follow.
“I’m basically going to re-watch every episode and copy her.”
Foy was equally complimentary, saying she was “apoplectic with joy” when she found out Colman was being lined up for the show.
“I just love her, I admire her so much and the idea that we sort of will be doing the same job but not actually working together is just enough – I’m honoured by that,” she said.
It is yet to be revealed who will play Prince Philip. Former Doctor Who actor Matt Smith is currently starring as the Duke of Edinburgh.
He and Foy will soon be seen in the second series of the show, due for release in December.
Foy, who has won a Golden Globe for the part, has previously said she was aware she would only be in two series.
“This is the last stint,” she told The Graham Norton Show. “It’s over, I’m done.
“I always knew it was only going to be two series and then the part would be reincarnated and someone else takes over. That’s the nature of the part.”
Colman, who won a Golden Globe for The Night Manager and has also appeared in BBC Three’s Fleabag, will play the Queen in the years from 1963, when the monarch turned 37.
Another actress is expected to take over to play the monarch in later life.
Fans were excited by her casting, with one saying it was “amazing news”.
Colman has form starring as royalty. She played the future Queen Mother in 2012’s Hyde Park on Hudson and will be seen as Queen Anne in next year’s The Favourite.
Netflix’s drama started in 1947 with Elizabeth’s engagement to Prince Philip and is expected to continue up to the present day.
In an era of scant good news, we got some last week: Olivia Colman will play Queen Elizabeth II on the next two seasons of The Crown, taking over from Claire Foy after the upcoming second series. Fans were worried about who would fill the role, but Colman, of Broadchurch and The Night Manager, is BBC’s perfect choice to play the Queen during her middle years.
Let us tell you why: Firstly, she’s used to playing royalty. She played the future Queen Mother in Hyde Park on Hudson with Bill Murray, and Queen Anne in The Favourite, set for release next year. If anyone can pull off extreme regality, it’s Colman.
On top of that, the actress can make nearly anything interesting, and the time period covered by The Crown in seasons three and four, which Colman is now signed up for, are potentially the dullest, so her presence will be somewhat of a godsend. We’ll see her as Elizabeth in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, during which the most exciting event was probably one assassination attempt. (In the ’90s, we’ll get Elizabeth and—gasp—Diana!) Colman is pleasant and sunny in interviews but can make any part unmissable (see the anguish of her character in Broadchurch, her icy bitchiness in Fleabag, or the humor in W1A and Peep Show).
Lastly, Colman does beleaguered, long-suffering wife like a champ, turning what could be simpering roles into simmering ones. Her role in Broadchurch had her dealing not only with a cheating husband but one who was also a serial killer; on Peep Show she expertly played Sophie, who tolerates main character Mark’s quirks as stoically as anyone could. Hence, she’s perfectly suited to deal with the philandering Prince Philip (though we don’t know who will replace Doctor Who’s Matt Smith yet).
Colman’s predecessor is just as happy as we are, if you need more convincing. Claire Foy told Variety, “I just think she’s extraordinary. She’s an extraordinary human being as well. I just think that she will make it her own. And I just can’t wait to see what she does with it.”
An evil godmother who Fleabag’s titular anti-heroine cheerfully describes as a “c***” is not a character you might typically associate with our beloved national treasure Olivia Colman, which begs the question: how did she get the part?
Lydia Hampson, who produces Phoebe Waller Bridge’s BBC3 comedy and is one of 2017’s BAFTA Breakthrough Brits, has revealed that Colman actually befriended Waller Bridge years ago on the set of the 2011 film The Iron Lady, when she requested that Waller Bridge write her into one of her future projects.
“Olivia had said to Phoebe, ‘If you ever write anything please tell me, I’d love to be in it,’” said Hampson.
“Phoebe told me that and I was like, ‘Oh my god! What could she be?’ In the original play version the godmother is literally just a presence at the top of the stairs, she doesn’t have any words, she’s not in it at all.
“So Phoebe kind of wrote up this idea of a godmother character that has a much larger role and Olivia, I believe, had said, ‘I’d love to play a real bitch.’ And so Phoebe was like, ‘I’ve got it!’”
Fleabag is returning for a second series in 2019, but it’s not yet known if Colman and the rest of the original cast will reprise their roles. Hampson couldn’t reveal any plot details, as Waller Bridge isn’t due to start writing until January…
Netflix has cast Olivia Colman to replace Claire Foy as Her Royal Highness in the drama series from Peter Morgan. Colman will take over the lead role for the show’s (not yet ordered but expected) third and fourth seasons. Foy was only set to play the young Queen for two seasons.
According to Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos, the plan is to have the period drama run for six seasons, following the Queen’s story throughout her whole life. “This is going to take Queen Elizabeth from age 29 to, presumably, the current day. We’ll see it lay out over decades,” the exec said last year. “The idea is to do this over six decades, in six seasons presumably, and make the whole show [run] over eight to 10 years.” Every two seasons, new castmembers are expected to be cast in the major roles to account for the years that have passed.
Foy herself spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about exiting the series, for which she won a Golden Globe earlier this year. “I’m quite philosophical about these things, and I think the amazing thing about the show is the fact that it will go on and that it hasn’t ended badly. It’ll go on and have another life,” she said. “I can’t wait to watch it, and I just think whoever they get to play that part, they’ll be extraordinary. I will never watch it with any sense of bitterness or regret. I will feel what I will feel now, which is so happy and lucky for the experience.”
Colman, who has had roles in feature films The Lobster and Hot Fuzz, will be seen next on the big screen in Murder on the Orient Express. Her television credits include Broadchurch, Fleabag and The Night Manager, the latter of which also won her a Golden Globe earlier this year.
The second season of The Crown is set to debut Dec. 8 on the streaming service. Season one castmembers Matt Smith (Prince Philip), Vanessa Kirby (Princess Margaret), Victoria Hamilton (Queen Mother) and Jeremy Northam (Antony Eden) will return. The series also will welcome newcomers Matthew Goode (as Lord Snowdon) and Michael C. Hall (as John F. Kennedy).