Olivia Colman Interview
Olivia Colman Interview
Can you talk a little about The Iron Lady? What is your role in it?

Olivia Colman

I'm Carol Thatcher. She's Margaret Thatcher's daughter and she's quite an eccentric creature. There's a show called I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and she won it one year and so I watched all the footage of her. And she was amazing, actually.

And if I was ever stuck in a forest, I'd want to be stuck with her. She had no fear. And you know, you have to perform these tasks like eat a kangaroo's testicle or put your hand in a snake's mouth and she'd go, [does Carol Thatcher impression] 'Oh right, okay ...', because if you did all that then your team-mates got fed. She'd go 'Oh right, well I don't want anyone to starve' and she'd roll her sleeves up, 'How many should I eat? Three or four?' She's just extraordinary and a very fun character to play.

But in the film she's a very sweet character. It is definitely a work of fiction – I'm not saying she's not sweet – but it's assuming no-one really knows what happens behind closed doors and it's really the story of a very powerful woman who's in a place where many people find themselves when they're weakened and dependent on others. It's just a sort of study of that, really.
Do you have many memories of Thatcher from the Thatcher years?

Olivia Colman

Not really, but I wasn't a fan. [Laughs]
Was it weird working opposite, essentially, Thatcher?

Olivia Colman

Yeah. I suppose what helped with me being less scared of Meryl was that she looked like Margaret Thatcher.
But that would make me more scared of Meryl, somebody looking like Thatcher ...

Olivia Colman

Yes. I know what you mean. It was sort of like, [pretends to stare] 'Wowwww ...', because she's got [does Meryl-as-Thatcher impression] beautiful bones. And sort of her chin became her neck and her body and she walked like an old lady. It was just amazing.
And did Meryl sort of snap out of character immediately when they called 'Cut' as well or was she Thatcher for the day?

Olivia Colman

She quite enjoyed it, I think, buggering about as an old woman, going [Old Lady Thatcher impression] 'Guh guh get out of the way ...' And she had lots of scenes of close-ups of her hands doing things and to show her lack of vanity, she a trick, and she puts really tight elastic bands [on her hands] and then her veins come up and makes her hands look really fat and veiny. So it's her hands and you can imagine maybe a lot of actors wouldn't want to do that but she just wants to really go for it. She's lovely.
On a similar note, did you find it easy to sort of switch off at the end of every day when you were shooting Tyrannosaur?

Olivia Colman

No. It was very easy to go and have a big old gin and not think about it. We spent a lot of time, all of us, because we were all away from home and it was only shot in four weeks, in Leeds. And we'd just all go to the pub and drink and laugh.
In make-up?

Olivia Colman

Yes. Oh! Yes, I would peel off my black eye. I did a terrible thing – I sent a photo of my black eye to my mum, thinking it was, 'Isn't this clever, mum?' but I sent it without a message ... [Does impression of her mother] 'Oh God, what happened?' 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking it through ... ' What a stupid thing to do.
I did a terrible thing – I sent a photo of my black eye to my mum...
Do you have a favourite scene in the film?

Olivia Colman

The scene when Peter is pointing [at his] his head, you know, with the pint glass. I love that. And I love knowing that just before that he was telling a hilarious story and everyone was in stitches. And then he goes straight into it and he does that. The voice that says, 'Are you alright, Joseph?' - that's Paddy's voice. He just says it, just to see what he does and I love the way he reacts to that. I love the wake scene and the way Paddy's cut it together. That was a whole afternoon of genuinely laughing and drinking, so that was really nice.

And the guy on the guitar was a busker that had been really annoying. In an outdoor scene previously, this guy had been really irritating and was trying to get in the back of the shot all the time. And Paddy went, 'Look, mate, can you sing a song about someone called Jack?' He went, 'Yeah, alright.' And Paddy said, 'Well come back next week – stop getting in the shot now, come back next week and that will be really good.' So he's got this real character playing this song about Jack in the wake scene. And real people from the estate. I love that. It's very warm, watching that scene.
What are you working on at the moment?

Olivia Colman

I've just finished a film called Hyde Park on Hudson, which is set in 1939, about George VI and Elizabeth – their visit to America when they stayed with Roosevelts, so that's in the long process of the edit now. I play Queen Elizabeth in that. That's really fun. Again, it's nice to have this chance to play lots of different things. Long may it last – I keep thinking it's going to go wrong soon ...
With Paddy and Peter both directing, is that something you've considered for yourself too?

Olivia Colman

No. No, 'Know your limits' is my motto. I've never wanted to direct – I don't think I could bear the responsibility ... it's all down to you. If the performance from the actor isn't good enough it's probably your fault, if it doesn't look right it's your fault. [Shudders] Ugh, I couldn't bear it.
Is Paddy planning to direct again soon?

Olivia Colman

I think he's desperate to. I think the light went on for him. He said other actors talked about acting and he never really understood it. Although he's clearly brilliant at it. But he said it was doing directing that he went, 'Oh, I get it now. I get that thing ...' And yes, I think he's wanting to direct again very soon.
That's great news.

Olivia Colman

As long as I'm in it!
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Content updated: 19/08/2019 22:58

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