Oscar Actors: Colman, Olivia–Background, Career, Awards (Cum Advantage)

Research in Progress (Jan 15, 2022)
Olivia Colman Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance: Yes/No (mother tried to be ballet dancer)

Nationality: UK

Social Class: Middle; mother nurse; father surveyor



Education: Cambridge

Training: Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

Teacher-Inspirational Figure: mother’s interrupted career as ballet dancer was an inspiration

Radio Debut:

TV Debut: acting debut in 2000, age 26, BBC2 comedy sketch show Bruiser

Stage Debut: Long Day’s Journey into Night Cathleen Lyric Theatre, London, 2000, aged 26

Broadway Debut: NA

Film Debut:

Breakthrough Role: Hot Fuzz, 2007; aged 33

Oscar Role: The Favourite, 2018; aged 45

Other Noms: The Father, 2020 (Supp nom); aged 47

Other Awards: BAFTA, Globes

Frequent Collaborator:

Screen Image:

Last Film:

Career Output:

Film Career Span: 2000-present

Marriage: Actor; 3 children


Death: NA

Sarah Caroline Sinclair CBE (née Colman; January 30, 1974), known professionally as Olivia Colman, is the recipient of numerous accolades, including Oscar Award, three British Academy Television Awards, a British Academy Film Award, three Golden Globe Awards, four British Independent Film Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and the BFI Fellowship.

A graduate of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Colman made her acting breakthrough in the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show (2003–2015).

Her other comedy roles in TV include Green Wing (2004–2006), That Mitchell and Webb Look (2006–2008), Beautiful People (2008–2009), Rev. (2010–2014), Flowers (2016–2018), and Fleabag (2016–2019).

Colman received the British Academy Television Award for Best Female Comedy Performance for her part in the comedy Twenty Twelve (2011–2012) and Best Supporting Actress for the anthology crime program Accused (2012).

Colman gained acclaim for her performance in the ITV crime drama series Broadchurch (2013–2017), which won her a British Academy Television Award for Best Actress.

Golden Globe

She also appeared in the Susanne Bier thriller miniseries The Night Manager (2016), for which she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.

In 2019 and 2020, she portrayed Queen Elizabeth II in the Netflix period drama series The Crown, for which she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama.

Colman’s film work includes supporting roles in Hot Fuzz (2007), The Iron Lady (2011), Hyde Park on Hudson (2012), The Lobster (2015), and Murder on the Orient Express (2017), and leading roles in Tyrannosaur (2011), The Favourite (2018) and The Father (2020).

For portraying Anne, Queen of Great Britain in The Favourite, she won the Best Actress Oscar.

Sarah Caroline Colman was born in Norwich on January 30, 1974, the daughter of nurse Mary (née Leakey) and chartered surveyor Keith Colman.

She was privately educated at Norwich High School for Girls and Gresham’s School in Holt, Norfolk. Her first role was Jean Brodie in a school production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie at the age of 16. She cites her mother’s interrupted career as a ballet dancer as an inspiration to pursue acting professionally. Colman spent a term studying primary teaching at Homerton College, Cambridge before studying drama at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, from which she graduated in 1999.

During her time at Cambridge, she auditioned for the Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club and met future co-stars David Mitchell and Robert Webb.

Colman was a subject of the UK genealogy program Who Do You Think You Are? in July 2018. Although she expected that her family tree would mainly relate to Norfolk, it was discovered that her fourth great-grandfather, Richard Campbell Bazett, had been born on the island of Saint Helena and that he worked in London for the East India Company. Bazett’s son, Colman’s third great-grandfather Charles Bazett, married Harriot Slessor.

Researchers discovered that she was born in the Indian city of Kishanganj, lost her British father when she was aged three, and then made the journey to England alone. Slessor’s passage was paid for by her paternal grandmother. The episode speculated that Slessor’s mother might have been Indian, but did not present concrete proof; after the episode aired, the Berkshire Record Office published the will of Slessor’s mother, which proved that her name was Seraphina Donclere, evidently of European origin, and that she died in 1810.

Colman made her professional acting debut in 2000, at the age of 26, as part of the BBC2 comedy sketch show Bruiser. She has since appeared in roles in many BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 television series, such as People Like Us, Look Around You, Black Books, The Office, The Time of Your Life and provided the voice-over for Five’s poll for Britain’s Funniest Comedy Character.

Colman regularly featured in BBC Radio 4 comedies, such as Concrete Cow, Think the Unthinkable, The House of Milton Jones and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. She was also the voice of Minka, the Polish secretary in the Radio 4 comedy Hut 33, set in a fictional codebreaking hut of the real-life Bletchley Park during World War II. Colman appeared as Bev, alongside Mark Burdis as Kev, in a series of television adverts for AA car insurance. She provided voices for the Andrex “be kind to your behind” adverts and Glade fragrance adverts, where her character is a gorilla.

Colman has worked with the comedians Mitchell and Webb. She joined them in 2003 to play the role of Sophie in the Channel 4 comedy Peep Show. Other joint ventures have included radio’s That Mitchell and Webb Sound, and the television version That Mitchell and Webb Look. She decided to leave the program after her agent suggested that she was becoming too closely associated with their work and needed to widen her horizons: a decision that was made “with tears”. She continued to appear on Peep Show, though less often, until it ended in 2015.

Colman had recurring role in the surreal comedy Green Wing from 2004 to 2006.

One of her earliest film credits include naturist Joanna Roberts in the 2006 mockumentary film Confetti, a role she once described as “the worst experience of my life”.

In 2007, Colman starred as Alice in the comedy Grow Your Own, and PC Doris Thatcher in the action-comedy Hot Fuzz.

She also played a lead role in Paddy Considine’s short film “Dog Altogether.”

In October and November 2008, Colman appeared in the BBC sitcom Beautiful People, based on the life of Simon Doonan, as Debbie Doonan, Simon’s mother.

She also made a guest appearance in Skins, in the episode “Naomi” as Naomi’s mother Gina.

In 2010, Colman took a leading role as Alex Smallbone, the wife of an inner-city vicar, in the BBC sitcom Rev. starring Tom Hollander. The series ran from 2010-2014.

Also in 2010, she guest starred in “The Eleventh Hour” episode of Doctor Who, Matt Smith’s debut as the Eleventh Doctor.

In 2011, Colman appeared in the BBC drama Exile, written by Danny Brocklehurst and starring John Simm and Jim Broadbent.

From 2011 to 2012, she played Sally Owen, the lovelorn secretary to Hugh Bonneville’s character Ian Fletcher, in Twenty Twelve, a comedy series about planning for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Colman reteamed with Considine for his feature directorial debut, Tyrannosaur (2011). For her role in the film, she won the BIFA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film and the Empire Award for Best Actress.

Also in 2011, Colman played Carol Thatcher in the Oscar-winning drama film The Iron Lady, with Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent, for which she was awarded the London Film Critics’ Circle Award for British Actress of the Year.

In 2013, Colman began playing DS Ellie Miller in ITV’s Broadchurch. The crime drama series is set in the fictional Dorset town of Broadchurch, following the residents of a tight-knit community after a young boy is found dead on a beach under suspicious circumstances. She was nominated for an International Emmy Award for Best Actress and won a BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress for her performance.

Also in 2013, she starred as Margaret Lea, opposite Vanessa Redgrave, in the BBC television film The Thirteenth Tale.

In 2015, Colman starred in Yorgos Lanthimos’ absurdist dystopian film The Lobster with Rachel Weisz and Colin Farrell. The film premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Fest where it received the Jury Prize. For her performance Colman was nominated for the London Film Critics’ Circle Award for Supporting Actress of the Year and won the BIFA Award for Best Supporting Actress.

In 2016, Colman received praise for her performance as Angela Burr in the AMC/BBC miniseries The Night Manager, for which she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award and received a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. That same year, she starred as Deborah Flowers in the Channel 4 black comedy series Flowers. She also provided the voice of Strawberry in the Netflix/BBC animated miniseries Watership Down.

In 2017, she played Princess Dragomiroff’s lady’s maid Hildegarde Schmidt in Kenneth Branagh’s remake of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.

In 2018, Colman starred as Queen Anne in Lanthimos’ film The Favourite, opposite Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. In preparation for the role, she gained 2st 7 lb (35 lb or 16 kg) in weight. For her performance, she won the Golden Globe and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Colman also won the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Her awe-struck and humorous Oscar acceptance speech was widely covered in the media.

Colman also received positive reviews for her supporting role as Madame Thénardier in the 2018 BBC miniseries Les Misérables, an adaptation of the novel of the same name.

In August 2019, she was confirmed as a guest star as Lily in the thirty-second season of the animated comedy series The Simpsons.

In October 2017, Colman was cast as Queen Elizabeth II in the third and fourth season of the Netflix historical drama series The Crown. The third season was released in November 2019. For her performance, she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. The fourth season was released on 15 November 2020.

In 2020, Colman starred alongside Anthony Hopkins in Florian Zeller’s film adaptation of his stage play, The Father, which focuses on an elderly man dealing with memory loss. The film premiered to critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Fest and was picked up for distribution by Sony Pictures. Hopkins and Colman have received widespread acclaim and as well as the film for its accurate depiction of dementia.

In the late 1990s, while performing in a Footlights production of Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s Table Manners, Colman met Ed Sinclair, then a third-year law student who had become disillusioned with law and preferred to write. Colman and Sinclair married in August 2001, and have three children together. They live in south London.


Since 2013, she has been a judge on the panel of the Norwich Film Festival. In August 2014, Colman was one of 200 public figures who signed a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to the September 2014 referendum. In November 2020, she signed an open letter condemning violence and discrimination against trans women.

In 2013, Colman presented two awards at the Mind Media Awards, which celebrate accurate, responsible and sensitive portrayals of mental health across all areas of 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.” Colman has spoken openly to the Big Issue about her experience of postnatal depression after the birth of her first child.

Inspired by her research for the film Tyrannosaur, in 2014, Colman became the patron of the UK charity Tender, which uses theatre and the arts to educate young people about how to prevent violence and sexual abuse. Colman says that domestic violence prevention can make a real difference in the lives of young people.

Other charity work included participating in the Alzheimer’s Society’s Holkham Hall Memory Walk in September 2013. Colman’s great-grandmother suffered from dementia and her mother was involved in running a nursing home for sufferers. Colman has also given support to charity campaigns for the Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal (care for the terminally ill). Colman became Patron of blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan in 2018,[59] which Colman says helped a friend of hers.

In December 2014, Colman was involved in a BBC Radio documentary about the plight of women in Afghanistan on behalf of Amnesty International UK. 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. In response to the work, Colman warned that the UK must not abandon Afghan women to the Taliban.


2004 Terkel in Trouble Terkel’s Mother Voice; English dub
2005 Zemanovaload TV Producer
One Day Ian’s Mother Short film
2006 Confetti Joanna Roberts
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
2011 Tyrannosaur Hannah
Arrietty Homily Voice; UK dub
The Iron Lady Carol Thatcher
2012 Hyde Park on Hudson Queen Elizabeth
2013 I Give It a Year Linda
Locke Bethan Maguire Voice
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
London Road Julie
2017 Murder on the Orient Express, Hildegard Schmidt
2018 The Favourite, Queen Anne
2019 Them That Follow Hope Slaughter
2020 The Father Anne
TBA The Mitchells vs. the Machines PAL Voice; Post-production
Mothering Sunday Mrs. Niven Post-production
The Lost Daughter Leda Post-production

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 Passion Janet Bottomley
Violetta Kiss Television film
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
Run Carol 2 episodes
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 short
2016–2018 Flowers Deborah Flowers 12 episodes
The Secret Life of the Zoo Narrator 35 episodes
2016–2019 Fleabag Godmother 9 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[62] 20 episodes
2020 The Simpsons Lily Voice; Episode: “The 7 Beer Itch”
Becoming You Narrator Documentary series on Apple TV+
Cinderella: A Comic Relief Pantomime for Christmas Fairy Godmother Pantomime


Landscapers Susan Edwards Upcoming four-part series

The Lost Daughter (SAG nom)


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

Colman has received various awards throughout her career, including 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, three Satellite Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Volpi Cup, and a BFI Fellowship.

For her performance in the miniseries The Night Manager (2016), she won a Golden Globe and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award.

She received another Primetime Emmy nomination for the comedy series Fleabag (2016–2019).

For her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in the Netflix period drama series The Crown (2019), she received a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award, among others.

For her portrayal of Anne, Queen of Great Britain in the black comedy The Favourite (2018), she received the Best Actress Oscar, the Golden Globe Award, and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, among numerous others.

Colman was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2019 Birthday Honors for services to drama.