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Olivia Colman: two times a queen, and now film royalty

Olivia Colman's Oscars triumph crowns a meteoric rise for the British actress that suddenly sees her starring as two queens -- an 18th century one on film and a modern one on television.

[LONDON] Olivia Colman's Oscars triumph crowns a meteoric rise for the British actress that suddenly sees her starring as two queens -- an 18th century one on film and a modern one on television.

The effusive but self-depreciating Colman beat Glenn Close in a major upset to grab the golden statuette Sunday for her work in the offbeat royal romp "The Favourite".

Colman turned in a punchy performance that brought a somewhat tragic and largely forgotten monarch to life -- one that takes the 45-year-old mother of three a step closer to the cult status of British acting royalty.

In her acceptance speech, Colman thanked her co-stars Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, who play two cousins vying for her personal and professional favors, calling them "the two loveliest women in the world to fall in love with and to go to work with every day."

She also praised Close: "You've been my idol for so long. This is not how I wanted to it to be."

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Colman also bested Lady Gaga ("A Star Is Born"), Yalitza Aparicio ("Roma") and Melissa McCarthy ("Can You Ever Forgive Me?").

The Norwich-born star is disarmingly honest talking about her suddenly charmed life.

"In the roles I've been lucky enough to play, lots of people could have done them well," she said in a podcast interview with Scottish actor and friend David Tennant.

"There are a lot of times where I think I'm going to be found out."

She is just as unflinching describing the weight problems and emotional trauma from losing 17 children endured by Queen Anne during her sorrowful reign.

"She feels cumbersome. She feels not very beautiful. And everybody dies, everyone leaves her," Colman told The Sunday Times.

"Also, after that sort of tragedy, you can do whatever the hell you like. You can behave as badly as you want because that's horrendous, what happened to you."

- Great expectations -

Colman's second queen is the one ruling Britain today -- whose chronicles have been unfolding to deafening acclaim since November 2016 in the Netflix smash drama "The Crown".

Colman will play a middle-aged Queen Elizabeth II in season three, due for release later this year.

Fans and critics alike will pounce if Colman fails to find the right mix of subtlety and spark that defined British actress Claire Foy's turn as the young queen.

The first thing Colman had to do was lose the 35 pounds (16 kilogrammes) she put on for the sake of pulling off Queen Anne's ample double chin.

The second was to try to shed the inhibition of portraying a woman who, for generations of Britons, is the only queen they have ever known.

"It is daunting. It's the hardest thing I've done, I think, because there's more ready-made critics," Colman told CBS television.

- Starstruck -

Of course, Colman did not always play royalty.

Born as Sarah Caroline Olivia Colman to a nurse mother and a chartered surveyor father, she attended the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and first came to prominence as a television actress.

Her sparkling form in a couple of British TV sitcoms in the naughties including "Peep Show" from 2003 brought her national renown and a chance to expand into deeper roles.

But she recalls with a touch of horror how a silly TV ad for a car loan that was supposed to air a few times but ran on for months both launched and nearly ruined her career in 2004.

"That has become the bane of my life," Colman recalled in the podcast interview. "It was really annoying. I lost some jobs."

In 2012, she found herself playing yet another British royal -- the Queen Mother -- in "Hyde Park on Hudson."

Colman received multiple awards for her role as an emotionally complex police detective in the TV crime drama "Broadchurch," which debuted in 2013.

And she soon found herself starstruck on set with Judi Dench in 2017's "Murder on the Orient Express".

"The dream of playing with her, I've had forever. And then you find yourself just staring and ... wow, it's all real," she told

Her most recent role is as Madame Thenardier in a BBC mini-series adaptation of "Les Miserables."


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