From surreal car insurance adverts to earning a Best Lead Actress nomination at the Oscars, Olivia Colman is queen of 'The Favourite' and our hearts
All of the beauty Vloggers flogging kohl eyeliners will not tell you this, but – gather round, it’s scandal time – achieving perfectly smokey eye make-up is impossible. Within a single over-zealous slip of the hand, it’s easy to transform from the nonchalant rock ‘n’ roll smudge you imagined, to resembling a hungover skunk that recently scrambled out from a muddy ditch. These are perils which resonate with everyone from Gerard Way fanboys to Mila Kunis impersonators.
- Read more: all the nominations for the Oscars 2019
Portraying lesser-known monarch Queen Anne in Yorgos Lanthimos’ recent sweary period drama The Favourite, Colman marches out from her bedchamber to meet foreign dignitaries, proud of her dramatic new look ”Who did your make-up? You look like a badger” despairs her court favourite Sarah Churchill, played by Rachel Weisz. In doing so, she adopts the weary tone of my girlfriend every time I borrow her eye-shadow palette without supervision. Queen Anne begins to silently sob. The tantrum that follows is second to none. We’ve all been there, hun.
Despite being snubbed in the Oscars’ Makeup and Hairstyling category this year (her smokey eye? Robbed!) Olivia Colman has nevertheless been nominated for something far bigger. This year she’s up for Best Lead Actress following her performance in The Favourite, and seeing a sometimes underrated British actor achieve the recognition she deserves, on the world stage, feels like a huge moment in film. From her portrayal of Sophie Chapman in Peep Show, to the endlessly forgetful nurse administrator Harriet from Green Wing, Colman has never been very interested in playing showy, glamorous roles. Instead, she’s always had a knack for tapping into the comedy of everyday situations, putting a clever spin on everything she does. At odds with the untouchable nature of Hollywood, Olivia Colman represents another kind of actor. Armed with a surreal mind, flawless delivery, and a love for playing unexpected characters, she isn’t just a plain old actor. Oh no. She is a snack-tor. By which I mean. Olivia Colman is, by absolute definition, both an actor, and a total snack.
In case you’re scratching your head in bemusement, a snack is the human equivalent of a slice of beef snaffled off the plate just before serving up a lovingly cooked roast dinner to your mates, a favourite Celebration chocolate plucked straight from the box while the room is distracted. A snack is a delectable surprise, like Rachel Weisz smugly choking a member of the royal family against a bedpost, a moment of sheer joy, a salacious reference to oral sex as you board a horse-drawn carriage, a slice of bright blue cake devoured on the floor while surrounded by adorable pet rabbits.
Olivia Colman, our down to earth queen who brings depth, thought and wit to each role she takes on, is not only an absolute snack for her dramatic talents alone, she conducts herself in a modest and snack-like fashion even on the red carpets and awards stages. Accepting her Golden Globe for Best Actress – no biggy – Colman didn’t get bogged down in self-depreciation or industry facing thank-yous. Who else but Olivia Colman would start such a momentous speech with “Cor blimey… thank you for the sandwiches”?
Before declaring “I ate constantly through the film and it was brilliant,” she gave a shout out to “ma bitches” Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. Absolute fuckin’ snack central.
Colman’s breakout role might’ve been as Mark’s on-off love interest Sophie in Peep Show, but really, her journey into national snackdom really began with her arresting depiction of Bev; long-suffering wife of Kev, and the protagonist of an AA car insurance advert in 2004. Inspired, no doubt, by the avant-garde dialogue of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot – along with Shakespeare’s pacing and narrative – Colman skilfully played two different versions of the same character. Pitting real-life Bev against her flashier counterpart (aspirational Bev, with her snazzy silver Volvo and shirt-wearing husband) it’s more dramatic than Downton Abbey. Colman’s steal-your-man delivery of “Kev!” as she assesses the neighbouring driver’s credentials is positively Oscar-worthy. The fact that it has taken a full 15 years to get the recognition she so richly deserves is a minor travesty.
When Olivia Colman inevitably wins her Best Lead Actress Oscar, I propose that she is awarded all of the sandwiches that her heart desires. A national treasure, a snack of the highest order, a stone-cold legend, and a fiercely talented actor to boot, justice has finally been served like a lovingly arranged platter of biscuits.