Since season three, Olivia Colman has been playing the role of Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s The Crown, and has won many hearts with her portrayal. Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning British monarch, as well as the longest-serving female head of state in world history. It is no wonder then, that Olivia Colman, a recipient of numerous awards, including an Oscar, three British Academy Television Awards, a British Academy Film Award, three Golden Globe Awards and four British Independent Film Awards, was chosen to play the part of Queen Elizabeth II, taking over from Claire Foy after season two. Colman has brought her signature uniqueness and her years of experience to master the act of playing the Queen’s character to the show.
But Olivia Colman has been a household name for the pop-culture audience long before her appearance on The Crown. Even in recent years, many fans may remember her from her appearances in shows like Fleabag and Broadchurch, and films like Murder on the Orient Express. So let’s take a look at the actor’s more-than-successful career graph.
Early Life And Breakthrough Roles
Born and brought up in Norfolk, England, Colman often cites her mother’s interrupted career as a ballet dancer being an inspiration for her to pursue acting professionally. It’s with the BBC2 comedy sketch show Bruiser that Colman made her acting debut in 2000. Since then, she has appeared in supporting roles in many shows such as People Like Us, Black Books, Look Around You, The Office and The Time of Your Life. She had also been part of many BBC4 radio comedies before joining hands with the famed English comedian duo Mitchell and Webb on their show.
Colman then appeared in guest roles in Doctor Who and in the BBC drama Exile, before going ahead to play the character of Hannah in Paddy Considine’s directorial debut Tyrannosaur in 2011, a role for which she won the BIFA Award for Best Performance and the Empire Award for Best Actress. In the same year, Colman appeared in the role of Carol Thatcher in the Oscar-winning drama film The Iron Lady, alongside Meryl Streep. The role earned her the London Film Critics’ Circle Award for British Actress of the Year.
From 2013, Colman started playing the role of DS Ellie Miller in the critically acclaimed show Broadchurch, for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award and won a BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress. In 2016, Colman starred in Yorgos Lanthimos’ absurdist dystopian film The Lobster, for which she won the BIFA Award for Best Supporting Actress. In the same year, she received a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the BBC miniseries The Night Manager.
Fans of Agatha Christie might also remember Colman from Kenneth Branagh’s 2017 adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, where she brought Princess Dragomiroff’s lady’s maid Hildegarde Schmidt to life. A year later, Colman played the role of another British monarch—Queen Anne in the film The Favourite, alongside Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. This performance earned her many accolades, including the Oscar for Best Actress, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. From 2016 to 2019, Colman also appeared in Phoebe Waller Bridge’s Amazon Prime series Fleabag, playing the role of Fleabag’s godmother-turned-stepmother.
The Crown And The Road Ahead
In 2017, Colman was cast as Queen Elizabeth II for the third and fourth season of The Crown. The third season, which was released last year, saw Colman replacing Claire Foy as the older, frumpier Queen, and earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her performance. Season four will see her playing the role as not just the head of the British monarchy, but also the mother-in-law to Princess Diana. And with its release date just around the corner, one cannot wait to check out what new dimensions Olivia Colman brings in to her character in the new season of the show.
Picture Credit: Netflix/ BBC
Views expressed are the author’s own.