Olivia Colman is an English actress who was born Sarah Caroline Sinclair CBE (née Colman; 30 January 1974). She has received numerous awards for her comedic and dramatic roles in film and television, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, two Emmy Awards, three British Academy Television Awards, and three Golden Globe Awards.
Colman, a Bristol Old Vic Theatre School graduate, made his breakthrough in the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show (2003–2015). Green Wing (2004-2006), That Mitchell and Webb Look (2006-2008), Beautiful People (2008-2009), Rev. (2010-2014), Flowers (2016-2018), and Fleabag are among her other television comedic roles (2016–2019). Colman won a BAFTA for Best Female Comedy Performance for the comedy series Twenty Twelve (2011-2012) and Best Supporting Actress for the crime series Accused (2012).
She received a British Academy Television Award for Best Actress for her performance in the ITV crime drama series Broadchurch (2013–2017). Colman also starred in the BBC One thriller miniseries The Night Manager (2016), for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress - Series, Miniseries, or Television Film. She portrayed Queen Elizabeth II in the Netflix period drama The Crown from 2019 to 2020, for which she received a Golden Globe Award and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Other dramatic roles on television include Les Misérables (2019), Landscapers (2021), and Heartstopper (2022–present).
Colman won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Anne, Queen of Great Britain in the period black comedy film The Favourite (2018). She was nominated for two more Academy Awards for her roles in The Father (2020) and The Lost Daughter (2021). Hot Fuzz (2007), Tyrannosaur (2011), The Iron Lady (2011), Hyde Park on Hudson (2012), Locke (2013), The Lobster (2015), Murder on the Orient Express (2017), The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021), Empire of Light (2022), and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish are among his other film credits (2022).
Childhood and education
Colman was born on January 30, 1974, in Norwich, the daughter of nurse Mary (née Leakey) and chartered surveyor Keith Colman. She received her education privately at Norwich High School for Girls and Gresham's School in Holt, Norfolk. At the age of 16, Colman played Jean Brodie in a school production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Her mother's interrupted career as a ballet dancer inspired her to pursue a professional acting career. Colman studied primary education at Homerton College in Cambridge for a term before moving on to drama at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, where she graduated in 1999. She appeared in the Channel 4 series The Word in 1995 under the nickname "Colly," auditioned for the Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club, and met future co-stars David Mitchell and Robert Webb while at Cambridge.
When Colman began working professionally, she had to use a different stage name because Equity (the UK actors' union) already had an actress named Sarah Colman. "One of my best friends at university was named Olivia, and I loved her name," Colman told The Independent in 2013. "I was never called Sarah; I was always called Colly, so it didn't seem so bad not to be called Sarah."
In July 2018, Colman appeared on the UK genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are? Although she expected her ancestors to be mostly from Norfolk, it was discovered that her fourth great-grandfather, Richard Campbell Bazett, was born on the island of Saint Helena and worked for the East India Company in London. Charles Bazett, Colman's third great-grandfather, married Harriot Slessor, Bazett's son. Researchers discovered that she was born in the Indian city of Kishanganj, lost her British father when she was three, and travelled to England on her own. Her paternal grandmother paid for Slessor's passage. The episode speculated that Slessor's mother was Indian, but provided no proof. Following the broadcast of the episode, the Berkshire Record Office published the will of Slessor's mother, Seraphina Donclere (obviously of European origin), who died in 1810.
Early career work in the 2000s
Colman made her professional acting debut at the age of 26 in the BBC Two comedy sketch show Bruiser in 2000. People Like Us, Look Around You, Black Books, The Office, and The Time of Your Life are just a few of the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 television shows in which she has appeared. Colman provided the voice-over for Channel 5's poll for Britain's Funniest Comedy Character.
She was a regular on BBC Radio 4 comedies such as Concrete Cow, Think the Unthinkable, Milton Jones' House, and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Colman was the voice of Minka, the Polish secretary in the Radio 4 comedy Hut 33 set in a fictional code-breaking hut at Bletchley Park during World War II. Colman played Bev in a series of television commercials for AA car insurance, alongside Mark Burdis as Kev. She did the voices for the Andrex "be kind to your behind" and Glade fragrance commercials (playing a gorilla).
Colman has collaborated with comedians Mitchell and Webb on several projects. In 2003, she joined them as Sophie in the Channel 4 comedy Peep Show. Other collaborations have included That Mitchell and Webb Sound on radio and That Mitchell and Webb Look on television. She decided to leave the programme after her agent suggested that she was becoming too closely associated with their work and needed to widen her horizons, a decision which was made "with tears". Colman appeared on Peep Show less frequently until it ended in 2015.
From 2004 to 2006, she played a recurring character in the surrealist comedy Green Wing. One of her earliest film credits is naturist Joanna Roberts in the 2006 mockumentary film Confetti, a role she has described as "the worst experience of my life".
Colman made her film debut in 2007 as Alice in the comedy Grow Your Own and as PC Doris Thatcher in the action comedy Hot Fuzz. She also appeared in Paddy Considine's short film Dog Altogether as the lead. She played Debbie Doonan, Simon's mother, in the BBC sitcom Beautiful People (based on Simon Doonan's life) in October and November 2008. Colman made a guest appearance in the episode "Naomi" of the series Skins as Naomi's mother, Gina.
Breakthrough and global recognition in the 2010s
Colman starred as Alex Smallbone, the wife of an inner-city vicar, in the BBC sitcom Rev., which starred Tom Hollander and aired from 2010 to 2014. She appeared as a guest star in the Doctor Who episode "The Eleventh Hour," which marked Matt Smith's debut as the Eleventh Doctor. The following year, Colman starred in Danny Brocklehurst's BBC drama Exile, alongside John Simm and Jim Broadbent. In Twenty Twelve, a comedy series about the London Olympic Games, she played Ian Fletcher's (Hugh Bonneville) lovelorn secretary Sally Owen from 2011 to 2012.
Colman returned to Considine's feature-film directorial debut, Tyrannosaur, in 2011, winning the BIFA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film and the Empire Award for Best Actress. She co-starred with Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent in the Academy Award-winning drama The Iron Lady that year, for which she received the London Film Critics' Circle Award for British Actress of the Year.
Colman debuted as DS Ellie Miller in ITV's Broadchurch in 2013. The crime drama series is set in the fictional Dorset town of Broadchurch and follows the residents of a close-knit community after a young boy is discovered dead on a beach under suspicious circumstances. For her performance, she was nominated for an International Emmy Award for Best Actress and won a BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress. Colman played Margaret Lea in the BBC television film The Thirteenth Tale that year, alongside Vanessa Redgrave.
She co-starred with Rachel Weisz and Colin Farrell in Yorgos Lanthimos' 2015 absurdist dystopian film The Lobster. The film had its world premiere at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Palme d'Or and won the Jury Prize. Colman received the BIFA Award for Best Supporting Actress after being nominated for the London Film Critics' Circle Award for Supporting Actress of the Year.
Colman's performance as Angela Burr in the 2016 AMC-BBC miniseries The Night Manager earned her a Primetime Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress - Series, Miniseries, or Television Film. That year, she starred as Deborah Flowers in the Channel 4 black comedy series Flowers. Strawberry was Colman's character in the Netflix-BBC animated miniseries Watership Down. In Kenneth Branagh's 2017 remake of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, she played Hildegarde Schmidt, Princess Dragomiroff's lady's maid.
Colman appeared as Queen Anne in Yorgos Lanthimos' 2018 film The Favourite, alongside Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. She gained 2 st 7 lbs in preparation for the role (35 lb, or 16 kg). Colman won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Comedy or Musical, the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance. Her awe-inspiring, humorous Academy Award acceptance speech was widely publicised.
Colman received positive feedback for her performance as Madame Thénardier in the 2018 BBC miniseries Les Misérables, based on Victor Hugo's novel of the same name. She was confirmed as a guest star (as Lily) in the thirty-second season of the animated comedy series The Simpsons in August 2019.
Colman was cast as Queen Elizabeth II in the third and fourth seasons of Netflix's historical drama series The Crown in October 2017, with the third season premiering in November 2019. She received two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Ensemble Performance in a Drama Series, a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Television Series Drama, and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her performance. The fourth season was released to critical acclaim on November 15, 2020.
Continued acclaim in the 2020s
Colman co-starred with Anthony Hopkins in Florian Zeller's 2020 film adaptation of his stage play, The Father, about an elderly man suffering from memory loss. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim and was picked up for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics. It went on limited release on February 26, 2021, after originally being scheduled for December 18, 2020. Hopkins and Colman's performances received widespread acclaim, as did the film's depiction of dementia. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Colman was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
She appeared in the drama films Mothering Sunday and The Electrical Life of Louis Wain in 2021, as well as the science-fiction animated films The Mitchells vs. the Machines and Ron's Gone Wrong. Colman executive produced and starred alongside David Thewlis in her husband Ed Sinclair's HBO true-crime miniseries Landscapers. The series, as well as Colman's performance, received critical acclaim.
Colman also appeared in Maggie Gyllenhaal's psychological drama The Lost Daughter, based on Elena Ferrante's novel of the same name. Her performance received critical acclaim, and she was nominated for Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and Academy Awards for Best Actress. In 2022, Colman starred as Sarah Nelson in the Netflix coming-of-age drama Heartstopper, for which she won the inaugural Children's and Family Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Performance.
Colman also appeared in the coming-of-age comedy film Joyride in 2022. She starred as the lead in Sam Mendes' romantic drama film Empire of Light. She received positive reviews and a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in the film. She also had starring roles in DreamWorks' Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and Netflix's Scrooge: A Christmas Carol.
Colman will appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe miniseries Secret Invasion on Disney+. It is set to be released in 2023. She was cast in the musical film Wonka, which is a prequel to Roald Dahl's novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and explores Willy Wonka's origins. It is set to be released on December 15, 2023. Colman will also play Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, an FX/BBC period drama based on Charles Dickens' novel of the same name.
Colman met Ed Sinclair, a third-year law student who had become disillusioned with law and preferred to write, while performing in a late-1990s Footlights production of Sir Alan Ayckbourn's Table Manners. apologies for the delay. They are from South London.
Colman has been a judge at the Norwich Film Festival since 2013. In the run-up to the September 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, she was one of 200 public figures who signed a letter to The Guardian opposing it. In November 2020, she signed an open letter condemning violence and discrimination against trans women.
Philanthropist Colman presented two Mind Media Awards in 2013, which recognise accurate, responsible, and sensitive portrayals of mental health in the media. Colman believes that "the media industry has huge influence and with that comes a responsibility to contest the stigma that sadly still exists, through accurate representation". She has spoken candidly to the Big Issue about her postpartum depression after the birth of her first child.
In 2014, Colman became the patron of the UK charity Tender, which uses theatre and the arts to educate young people about preventing violence and sexual abuse, inspired by her research for the film Tyrannosaur. Domestic violence prevention, according to Colman, can make a difference in the lives of young people. Participating in the Alzheimer's Society's Holkham Hall Memory Walk in September 2013 was another charitable endeavour. Colman's great-grandmother had dementia, and her mother was in charge of a nursing home for patients. She has also donated to the Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal for the terminally ill.
Colman appeared in a BBC Radio documentary for Amnesty International UK about the plight of women in Afghanistan in December 2014. Several women who told their stories to journalist Lyse Doucet were unable to appear because their lives might have been at risk; Colman read their stories as part of the documentary and said that the UK must not abandon Afghan women to the Taliban. She has been an ambassador for UNICEF UK since 2015 and will take over as president in 2020.
Colman became a patron of the Anthony Nolan blood-cancer charity in 2018, after a friend was helped by the organisation.
|2004||Terkel in Trouble||Terkel's Mother||Voice; English dub|
|One Day||Ian's Mother||Short film|
|2007||Hot Fuzz||PC Doris Thatcher|
|Grow Your Own||Alice|
|I Could Never Be Your Woman||Hairdresser|
|Dog Altogether||Anita||Short film|
|2009||Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee||Olivia|
|Arrietty||Homily||Voice; UK dub|
|The Iron Lady||Carol Thatcher|
|2012||Hyde Park on Hudson||Queen Elizabeth|
|2013||I Give It a Year||Linda|
|2014||Cuban Fury||Sam Garrett|
|Pudsey the Dog: The Movie||Nelly the Horse||Voice|
|Thomas & Friends: Tale of the Brave||Marion||Voice; English dub|
|The Karman Line||Sarah|
|2015||The Lobster||Hotel Manager|
|Thomas & Friends:|
Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure
|Marion||Voice; English dub|
|2017||Murder on the Orient Express||Hildegard Schmidt|
|2018||The Favourite||Queen Anne|
|2019||Them That Follow||Hope Slaughter|
|2021||The Mitchells vs. the Machines||PAL||Voice|
|Mothering Sunday||Mrs. Clarrie Niven|
|The Electrical Life of Louis Wain||Narrator|
|The Lost Daughter||Leda Caruso||Also executive producer|
|Ron's Gone Wrong||Donka Pudowski||Voice|
|Empire of Light||Hilary Small|
|Scrooge: A Christmas Carol||Past||Voice|
|Puss in Boots: The Last Wish||Mama Bear|
|TBA||Wicked Little Letters||Edith Swan||Filming; also producer|
|2000||Bruiser||Various characters||6 episodes|
|2001||The Mitchell and Webb Situation||Various characters||5 episodes|
|People Like Us||Pamela Eliot||Episode: "The Vicar"|
|Mr Charity||Distressed Mother||Episode: "Nice to Feed You"|
|Comedy Lab||Linda||Episode: "Daydream Believers: Brand New Beamer"|
|2002||Rescue Me||Paula||Episode: "1.4"|
|Holby City||Kim Prebble||Episode: "New Hearts, Old Scores"|
|The Office||Helena||Episode: "Interview"|
|2003||Gash||Various characters||3 episodes|
|Eyes Down||Mandy Foster||Episode: "Stars in Their Eyes"|
|The Strategic Humour Initiative||Various characters||Television film|
|2003–2015||Peep Show||Sophie Chapman||32 episodes|
|2004||Black Books||Tanya||Episode: "Elephants and Hens"|
|Swiss Toni||Linda Byron||Episode: "Troubleshooter"|
|NY-LON||Lucy||Episode: "Something About Family"|
|Coming Up||Receptionist||Episode: "The Baader Meinhoff Gang Show"|
|2004–2006||Green Wing||Harriet Schulenburg||18 episodes|
|2005||Angell's Hell||Belinda||Television film|
|Look Around You||Pam Bachelor||6 episodes|
|The Robinsons||Connie||Episode: "1.3"|
|Murder in Suburbia||Ellie||Episode: "Golden Oldies"|
|ShakespeaRe-Told||Ursula||Episode: "Much Ado About Nothing"|
|2006–2008||That Mitchell and Webb Look||Various characters||13 episodes|
|2007||The Grey Man||Linda Dodds||Television film|
|The Time of Your Life||Amanda||6 episodes|
|2008||Love Soup||Penny||Episode: "Integrated Logistics"|
|Hancock and Joan||Marion||Television film|
|Consuming Passions||Janet Bottomley|
|2008–2009||Beautiful People||Debbie Doonan||12 episodes|
|2008, 2018||Would I Lie to You?||Herself||2 episodes|
|2009||Skins||Gina Campbell||Episode: "Naomi"|
|Midsomer Murders||Bernice||Episode: "Small Mercies"|
|Mister Eleven||Beth Paley||2 episodes|
|2010||Doctor Who||Prisoner Zero||Episode: "The Eleventh Hour"|
|2010–2014||Rev.||Alex Smallbone||19 episodes|
|2011||Comic Relief: Uptown Downstairs Abbey||O'Brien||Television film|
|Exile||Nancy Ronstadt||3 episodes|
|2011–2012||Twenty Twelve||Sally Owen||10 episodes|
|2012||Accused||Sue Brown||Episode: "Mo and Sue's Story"|
|Bad Sugar||Joan Cauldwell||Television film|
|2013–2017||Broadchurch||DS Ellie Miller||24 episodes|
|2013||The Suspicions of Mr Whicher:|
The Murder In Angel Lane
|Susan Spencer||Television film|
|The Thirteenth Tale||Margaret Lea||Television film|
|The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot||Herself||Television film|
|2014||Big Ballet||Narrator||3 episodes|
|The 7.39||Maggie Matthews||2 episodes|
|W1A||Sally Owen||Episode: "1.4"|
|The Secrets||Pippa||Episode: "The Dilemma"|
|Mr. Sloane||Janet Sloane||6 episodes|
|This is Jinsy||Joan Jenkins||Episode: "The Golden Woggle"|
|2014–2018||Thomas & Friends||Marion||Voice; 9 episodes|
|2016||Drunk History||Ethel Le Neve||Episode: "2.7"|
|The Night Manager||Angela Burr||6 episodes|
|We're Going on a Bear Hunt||Mum||Voice; Television special|
|2016–2018||Flowers||Deborah Flowers||12 episodes|
|The Secret Life of the Zoo||Narrator||35 episodes|
|2017||Inside Dior||Narrator||2 episodes|
|2018||Flatpack Empire||Narrator||3 episodes|
|Natural World||Narrator||Episode: "The Super Squirrels"|
|Watership Down||Strawberry||Voice; 4 episodes|
|2019||Les Misérables||Madame Thénardier||4 episodes|
|2019–2020||The Crown||Queen Elizabeth II||20 episodes|
|2020||The Simpsons||Lily||Voice; Episode: "The 7 Beer Itch"|
|Becoming You||Narrator||6 episodes|
|Cinderella: A Comic Relief Pantomime for Christmas||Fairy Godmother||Television special|
|2021||Trip Hazard: My Great British Adventure||Narrator||4 episodes|
|Landscapers||Susan Edwards||4 episodes|
Also executive producer
|2022–present||Heartstopper||Sarah Nelson||6 episodes|
|2023||Secret Invasion||Sonya Falsworth||Upcoming miniseries|
|TBA||Great Expectations||Miss Havisham||Upcoming miniseries|
|2000||Long Day's Journey into Night||Cathleen||Lyric Theatre, London|
|2009||England People Very Nice||Philippa||Royal National Theatre, London|
|2012||Hay Fever||Myra Arundel||Noël Coward Theatre, London|
|2017||Mosquitoes||Jenny||Royal National Theatre, London|
Main article: Olivia Colman's list of awards and nominations
Colman has won an Academy Award, three British Academy Television Awards, a British Academy Film Award, four British Independent Film Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, two Critics' Choice Movie Awards, five Satellite Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Emmy Awards, a Volpi Cup, and a BFI Fellowship.
She won a Golden Globe and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for her performance in the miniseries The Night Manager (2016). Colman was nominated for another Primetime Emmy Award for her work on the comedy series Fleabag (2016–2019). She won two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and a Primetime Emmy Award for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix's period drama series The Crown (2019-2020).
She won the Academy Award for Best Actress, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Comedy or Musical, and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her portrayal of Anne, Queen of Great Britain in the period black-comedy film The Favourite (2018). She was nominated for a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Critics' Choice Movie Award, and an Academy Award for her performance in the drama film The Father (2020). Colman received Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and Academy Award nominations for her performance in the psychological drama film The Lost Daughter (2021). In the 2019 Birthday Honours, she was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her contributions to drama.