Thought you knew everything about actress, Olivia Colman? Think again. She nearly became a teacher, y'know!
1. Olivia isn’t her first name
Born Sarah Caroline Olivia Colman, she took one of her middle names as her stage name.
2. She trained as a teacher
When she was 20, Olivia trained for a term as a primary school teacher at Homerton College, Cambridge. ‘I wasn’t terribly committed,’ she admits, adding: ‘I’d have been a terrible teacher. I much preferred having a lark.’
3. She fell in love at first sight
Olivia met Ed Sinclair, a fellow actor, at Cambridge when they were both cast in a student production. ‘For me, it was thunderbolts straight away,’ she says. ‘I thought: “There’s the bloke I’m going to marry.” I still feel like I’m punching above my weight.’ The couple have two sons and Olivia announced her third pregnancy in February.
4. A teacher got her into acting
In her BAFTA acceptance speech in 2013, she thanked Paul Hands, her drama teacher from Gresham’s School in Holt, saying that if it wasn’t for him she might still be ‘wondering what to do when she grew up’
5. She does her bit for charity
Inspired by her research for the film Tyrannosaur, in 2014 Olivia became the patron of the UK charity Tender, which uses the arts to educate young people about how to prevent violence and sexual abuse.
6. Her first job paid just £25
In a children’s theatrical production of The Miser, Olivia was paid £25 per fortnight. ‘But it was good fun going around the country in a van getting drunk after shows,’ she says. ‘We were rubbish. The kids spent a lot of time wondering what was going on because there were four actors playing 14 parts. Lots of wigs going on back to front.’
7. It’s a good thing she became an actress…
Because, according to Olivia, she’s ‘shit at everything else’! ‘I’d be screwed if work dried up,’ she says. ‘I was Jean Brodie in The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie when I was 16. It was my first school play and I knew I wanted to make a living from acting then. I liked the clapping at the end – and pretending to be someone else.’
8. She got her big TV break in Peep Show
When she was 20, Olivia answered an audition advert for Footlights, Cambridge University’s am-dram club, best known for its comedy. There she met Peep Show stars David Mitchell and Robert Webb. She’s said: ‘I’m so grateful for them. They were my first job and without them I could be one of my many mates who doesn’t get much work.’
9. She says she’s not a ‘natural beauty’
‘I feel fortunate I’m not a classic beauty,’ she said recently. ‘I feel it’s harder for girls who are like that. There are fewer parts.’
10. Meryl Streep is a big fan
Multiple Oscar-winner Meryl called Olivia ‘divinely gifted’ during her 2012 BAFTA acceptance speech for The Iron Lady, in which Olivia played her on-screen daughter Carol Thatcher.
11. She cried when she read the Broadchurch script
When she played DS Ellie Miller in Broadchurch, she cried reading about the murder of 11-year-old Danny Latimer. ‘It’s just awful, the idea that your children could go before you,’ she says.
London Road is at cinemas now