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Career

Olivia Colman admits she's quietly terrified about playing the Queen on The Crown

''I have got the worst job in the world at the moment!''

By Vivienne Archer
Is there a bigger star than Olivia Colman on the planet right now?
It's safe to say 2019 has been her year – she's added a shiny, gold statue to her trophy cabinet after winning an Oscar for her blackly comic portrayal of Queen Anne in The Favourite; enchanted and appalled viewers in equal measure with her hilarious turn as an anarchic stepmother in Fleabag; and has taken on what may be her biggest role of all, Her Majesty the Queen in season three of The Crown.
Fame, fortune and adoration have come all at once, but the hilarious and humble star says she's happy it didn't happen for her until her late 30s.
"To be the ingénue and to keep working is rare because once people see you as that, they don't like the process of ageing," Olivia (45) says.
"Which is f** ridiculous! I grew to my place.
"Over the years, pounds have gone on, and my body has changed, I've had children," the mum-of-three adds.
"If someone doesn't like me because of the size of my bum, they can f* off, because I'm quite a nice person to be with."
Olivia won a Best Actress Oscar for playing Queen Anne in The Favourite. Getty Images
While she's starred in countless British TV shows since starting out in the industry 20 years ago, including a long run in the cult sitcom Peep Show, Olivia's first taste of global success came in 2013 with the hit drama Broadchurch.
She shone as Detective Inspector Ellie Miller, who was tasked with uncovering the truth about the disappearance of a boy in small-town England.
After landing a BAFTA award for Best Actress in 2014 for the show, Olivia's star began to rapidly rise, to the point where she is now fondly thought of in Britain as a national treasure, though she's not sure she likes the label.
"I don't really know what it means; it sounds like an old teapot," she says, wide-eyed.
"I know it comes from a warm and loving place, but I wonder if it means that I'm at the end of my career, and I feel like I'm only just getting going. Well, at least I hope I am, anyway."
Landing one of the most high-profile roles in television would indicate so.
The actress admits she was terrified to take on playing the reigning monarch given the Queen watches the series alongside daughter-in-law Sophie, Countess of Wessex, plus she's following the much-lauded Claire Foy (35), who portrayed Her Majesty for the first two seasons.
"I was incredibly uncool about it," she says of winning the role.
"The producers went, 'So…' [I said] 'Yes! Yes! I'm really excited! Thank you very much! I loved the first two seasons…' [but taking over from Claire] is horrendous. Everyone loves Claire Foy, so I have got the worst job in the world at the moment!"
Love at first sight has led to 18 years of marriage for Olivia and Ed, with the star declaring in her Oscars acceptance speech that Ed is "my best friend". Getty Images
It turns out Olivia − who lives in South London with husband of 18 years, Ed Sinclair (48), their two sons and one daughter, and pups Pocket and the regally named Alfred, Lord Waggyson − has kind of had a personal insight into playing the Queen after "accidentally" meeting Her Majesty at a British Film Institute event.
"We found ourselves in a big queue," she explains.
"I thought maybe we were going to have some food, I hadn't read the order of the day. I looked around the corner, and there was the Queen and Prince Philip and I went, 'Oh no!'"
After stumbling through a greeting right before which gentlemen wearing epaulettes explained what to do − 'Don't overdo it, give a little bow and say, Your Majesty, and your Royal Highness, and go' − Olivia can now say she's spoken to the much-admired real-life person she's portraying, a rare treat for an actor.
Olivia's also preparing herself for the wave of attention that will wash over her when The Crown's new season premieres – November 17 in New Zealand – but she's determined to stay exactly who she is.
She hates awards shows, despite her heartwarming acceptance speech at the Oscars this year, which went viral, and much prefers to curl up at home with a strong cup of tea to watch It's a Wonderful Life for the umpteenth time.
She loves the home she and Ed bought seven years ago, and together they've managed to carve out a slice of bliss in the middle of bustling London.
"[The] streets are a lovely community – they really look after you," she says of her neighbours, who are fiercely protective of their friend Olivia, the movie star.
"I think I might never be able to completely leave London, even though I do dream of buggering off to the seaside."
With the way things are going, however, a charming coastal existence might be a fair way off yet. She's busier than she's ever been, a fact she doesn't take for granted.
"If you're working, you're so f** lucky," she tells. "A lot of actors better than me aren't."
So what's next? Well, there's the fourth season of The Crown, which is about to head into production, along with various other projects. And when Olivia reveals just how she decides what her next roles are, it sounds rather typical.
"Good lines and comfy shoes," she says.

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