Olivia Colman has more career highs than any actress in recent memory. Learn more about her new movie on Netflix and an upcoming role in the MCU.
When it comes to the modern era of acting, only a few names can say they have each foot firmly ground in both the world of comedy and the world of drama. Olivia Colman is certainly on that list. The actress is living any modern actor's dream. She began in radio and tv comedy and has seen her career skyrocket into the world of must-have talent every director wants on their project.
Colman began her career in good company. Her initial outings in three television shows — Bruiser, Peep Show, That Mitchell and Webb Look — proved she had the talent and likability to hold her own in the world of comedy. However, Colman's agent strongly suggested she leave TV comedy to pursue a more wide-ranging career before becoming stuck in only one genre. She has said the change was necessary but one of the most painful of her early career.
In one of her first acclaimed dramatic roles, Colman starred as Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller for three seasons opposite David Tennant, of Doctor Who fame, in the darkly dramatic series Broadchurch. She was drawn to the role due to its deep dive into how small communities come together in times of terrible news. Her character is part of the local constabulary when an 11-year-old boy is found murdered. She has deep ties to her community, and when Alec Hardy arrives to take over the case, they develop a rich, sometimes adversarial relationship.
This series lasted for three seasons, each building on the crimes of the ones before it. The first season was considered one of the best whodunits in recent television history. It was kept so well under wraps that even the stars were unable to speculate about it. This role also showed many people the true range of Colman, who was proving just how far she could come from her comedy beginnings.
For many, the role of Queen Anne in 2018's The Favourite was their first introduction to Colman. To call the role a tour de force would be an understatement. The film is a dark comedy with an all-star cast including Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, and Nicholas Hoult. Once again, Colman proved her dramatic prowess while interspersing nuggets of comedy. Her portrayal of the ill queen with a disdain for governing and a penchant for the young women of her court won her top honors.
In her acceptance speech, she thanked her director, Yorgos Lanthimos (who directed her in the acclaimed film The Lobster), and her costars by saying, “Emily and Rachel, the two loveliest women in the world to fall in love with and to go to work with every day.” Although Colman was already well-known in England, The Favourite was a worldwide hit that brought in over $95 million and remains the most successful film Colman has starred in to date.
Most recently, Colman starred in Sam Mendes' Empire of Light. Set in the 1980s and a tribute to the love of cinema, her performance has been described as Oscar-worthy.
Colman has been creating several projects through the Netflix streaming service in recent years. Her various outings have included award winners, films, and television, and she has been nominated for a number of roles. Continuing what seems to be an unending quest for excellence, Colman won more awards for her work as Queen Elizabeth II in the third and fourth seasons of The Crown.
She has stated that playing a very real and (at the time) living monarch was one of the most challenging roles she'd ever taken on. The Crown was also a show that featured many well-known British actors and continues to air newer seasons to continued critical acclaim.
Netflix's Heartstopper, renewed for two more seasons, has received rave reviews for its honest portrayal of LGBTQ+ youth. Colman plays the mother of the main character Nick Nelson. Though it has garnered quite a bit of acclaim, it has become a touchpoint due to star Kit Connor being forced to out himself as bisexual due to outside pressure. When asked to comment, Colman stated to Variety:
“I think people should be allowed to have their own journey, but I’m incredibly proud of [Kit] as a young man to deal with all of that and be in the spotlight. It’s unfair.”
In her most recent outing, Colman has continued down the industry road and made the Netflix movie Scrooge: A Christmas Carol. In this animated holiday film, she plays the Ghost of Christmas Past, a glowing candle of a character whose job is to show the eponymous character some of the many transgressions and regrets of his past.
As expected, Colman has a slate of upcoming projects. One of these, much like all the great stars of the current acting landscape, is acting in a Marvel project. The MCU has now grown into such a behemoth that it has swallowed its share of Academy Award winners. These put Colman in the company of greats such as Anthony Hopkins (whom Colman starred with in The Father), Jeff Bridges, Ben Kingsley, and Lupita Nyong’o.
Colman will star in Secret Invasion on Disney+ as Special Agent Sonya Falsworth. Although the MCU is known to use Oscar winners for one-shot throwaway cameos, her character is rumored to appear in future Marvel projects. We can't wait to see her presence in the superhero universe.