New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - THIS WEEK IN... - Judy Kean

Olivia’s royal dou­ble act

English ac­tress Olivia Col­man is rapidly cor­ner­ing the mar­ket in play­ing queens.

She’s taken over from Claire Foy to play El­iz­a­beth II in the third se­ries of The Crown and also stars as Queen Anne in the movie The Favourite. But her re­gal roles haven’t made her im­mune to the real-life thrill of go­ing to Buck­ing­ham Palace to meet ac­tual roy­als.

When Olivia and her hus­band Ed Sin­clair were in­vited to a char­ity re­cep­tion at the palace in June, hosted by Prince Wil­liam (un­for­tu­nately she didn’t get to meet the Queen), the Broad­church star was so ex­cited she in­structed ac­tor and writer Ed to bring home a sou­venir.

Be­ing a de­voted hus­band, Ed did as he was told and helped him­self to palace prop­erty from one of the bath­rooms.

“We got two squares of loo roll, just to say, ‘We got it from Buck­ing­ham Palace,’” says a proud Olivia.

The mum-of-three couldn’t re­sist ask­ing Wil­liam if he watched The Crown. “He said, ‘No, no dear, I don’t watch it,’” re­counts Olivia. “But maybe he can’t say he watches it.” One thing we do know is that when the


se­ries re­turns this year, Olivia is likely to turn in a stun­ning per­for­mance as the Queen.

The ac­tress (44) has ad­mit­ted to feel­ing ner­vous about step­ping into Claire’s shoes, as well as play­ing such a well-known per­son, “be­cause ev­ery­one knows what the Queen looks like, what she sounds like, and ev­ery­one is in love with Claire Foy, in­clud­ing me.”

A huge fan of the show – “I thought Claire was breath­tak­ing” – she had no idea the pro­duc­ers were plan­ning on re­cast­ing af­ter two sea­sons and it was a shock when her agent called about the role. A very ex­cited Olivia shrieked, “The Queen!” down the phone, and was “very un­cool” when she went to meet the pro­duc­ers. “I just said, ‘Yes please,’ and they were to­tally taken aback.”

She felt the only way to tackle the role af­ter Claire had done such a good – Emmy-win­ning – job with it was to “plough on”, which she did af­ter watch­ing hun­dreds of hours of video of the Queen, and work­ing with voice and move­ment coaches.

“I walk a bit like a farmer, not a queen, and I’m not a very good phys­i­cal im­per­son­ator,” she con­cedes. “So there is a dol­lop of artis­tic li­cence.”

She may be self-dep­re­cat­ing, but she’s ex­pected to nail the role. With a col­lec­tion of awards that in­cludes three BAFTAs and

a Golden Globe, she’s be­come one of Bri­tain’s best-loved and most ac­claimed ac­tresses.

Her co-stars can’t speak highly enough of her.

Meryl Streep, who played her mother

Mar­garet Thatcher in The Iron Lady, de­scribes her as “di­vinely gifted”. Her Broad­church co-star David Ten­nant says the fact she’s very emo­tional is part of the rea­son she’s so tal­ented. “Ev­ery­thing is close to the sur­face with Olivia. She laughs more heartily than any­one, and she cries more rawly than any­one – that’s part of the key to her bril­liance.”

Olivia ad­mits she cries at the drop of a hat. “I’m con­stantly on the verge of tears at the thought of any­thing sad or happy – any­thing re­ally” and her ten­dency to let her feel­ings out made it dif­fi­cult at times to play the Queen, a master of the “stiff up­per lip”.

“She’s got to be a rock for ev­ery­one and has been trained not to emote.”

A novel ap­proach was found to stop Olivia from get­ting up­set. “They gave me an ear­piece and played me the ship­ping fore­cast,” re­veals Olivia. “It’s some­body go­ing, ‘And the winds are fair to mid­dling… blah, blah’.”

So in sad scenes, she was not lis­ten­ing to the other ac­tors. “I was try­ing hard to tune into the ship­ping fore­cast and not cry.”

Mean­while, in The Favourite, she ru­ined sev­eral scenes with co-star Emma Stone tear­ing up when she wasn’t meant to. In one scene, Olivia’s char­ac­ter Queen Anne tells Emma’s courtier about los­ing 17 chil­dren to mis­car­riage, still­birth or ill­ness.

She was so con­vinc­ing Emma’s eyes filled with tears and that in turn made Olivia cry. The scenes had to keep be­ing re­filmed.

Mum-of-three Olivia and Os­car-win­ner Emma (30) be­came close friends while film­ing The Favourite. “Olivia is the warm­est per­son,” says Emma. “I’d be heart­bro­ken if we didn’t stay friends.”

The pair may have more chance to stay in touch if Olivia’s lat­est work leads her to Los An­ge­les, where Emma is based.

She’s not gen­er­ally well­known there – other than by fans of Brit dra­mas Broad­church and The Night Man­ager – but she is be­ing tipped to be­come fa­mous once The Crown, which is pop­u­lar State­side, airs there.

Fame is not some­thing Olivia feels par­tic­u­larly com­fort­able with. “I hate the loss of anonymity,” she says. “No-one teaches you how to deal with that. I now tend to stay home be­cause it’s so weird not to be on an equal foot­ing with peo­ple. They know your face and you don’t know them. It’s not that peo­ple aren’t lovely, but it’s harder to deal with than you imag­ine.”

A re­cent hol­i­day in the US with her hus­band and chil­dren – they have two sons, Finn (12) and Hall (10), but have never re­vealed the name of their daugh­ter, born in 2015 – was great be­cause she didn’t get recog­nised. “It was lovely to walk around and no­body does a dou­ble-take. Po­ten­tially, that might change, I sup­pose.”

Al­ready a fan of the show,Olivia was be­side her­self about play­ing the Queen inThe Crown.

Right: With David inBe­low: Light­ing up the screen asQueen Anne inBroad­church.The Favourite.Olivia, with hus­band Ed, is yet to ad­just to the phe­nom­e­non on be­ing fa­mous.

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