The Rise of Olivia Colman: From British Gem to International Star


Olivia Colman is a British actress who has gained widespread recognition and acclaim for her performances in film, television, and theater. She is known for her ability to inhabit a wide range of characters with authenticity and emotional depth, making her one of the most talented and versatile actresses working today.

In this blog post, we will explore Olivia Colman’s career, from her early days in British television to her recent success on the international stage. We will examine her most memorable performances, her approach to acting, and the impact she has had on the industry.

Early Career:

Olivia Colman began her acting career in the early 2000s, appearing in a number of British television shows such as “The Office” and “Peep Show”. These early roles showcased her comedic talent and helped establish her as a rising star in British entertainment.

However, it was her performance in the crime drama “Broadchurch” that truly brought her to the attention of a wider audience. In the series, Colman played Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller, a complex and emotionally resonant character that earned her critical acclaim and a devoted fan following.

Rise to International Fame:

Following the success of “Broadchurch”, Olivia Colman began to receive more high-profile roles in both film and television. In 2016, she starred in the critically acclaimed British comedy-drama “Fleabag”, playing the emotionally fraught character of Godmother.

However, it was her role in the Netflix series “The Crown” that truly propelled Colman to international fame. In the series, she played Queen Elizabeth II, taking over the role from Claire Foy. Colman’s performance was widely praised for its nuanced portrayal of the monarch, earning her a Golden Globe and an Emmy award.

She appeared in The Mothering Sunday and The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, both dramas, and The Mitchells vs. the Machines and Ron’s Gone Wrong, all animated science fiction features, in 2021. Landscapers was an HBO true-crime miniseries that Colman starred in alongside David Thewlis and for which she served as executive producer alongside her husband, Ed Sinclair. Colman’s performance in the series and the show itself won high marks from reviewers.

In the same year, Colman also acted in The Lost Daughter, a psychological drama directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal and based on Elena Ferrante’s novel of the same name. She was nominated for Best Actress at the Golden Globes, the SAG Award, and the Academy Award for her outstanding performance. Colman won the first-ever Children’s and Family Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Performance for her role as Sarah Nelson in the first season of the Netflix coming-of-age series Heartstopper, which aired in 2022.

Colman also starred in the coming-of-age comedy film Joyride in 2022.In Sam Mendes’ romantic drama film Empire of Light, she starred as the main character. She received a Golden Globe Award nomination and critical acclaim for her work in the picture. She also voiced major characters in the animated films Scrooge: A Christmas Carol (Netflix) and DreamWorks’ Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.

Colman will appear in the Disney+ miniseries Secret Invasion, which is situated in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is set to premiere in 2023. She’ll be playing the role of little Charlie in the musical flick Wonka, which serves as a prologue to Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The release date is set for December 15th, 2023. Colman will also play Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, an FX / BBC historical drama based on Charles Dickens’ novel of the same name.

Approach to Acting:

One of the reasons that Olivia Colman is such a beloved and respected actress is her commitment to authenticity in her performances. She is known for her ability to fully inhabit the characters she plays, bringing a sense of emotional truth to every scene.

In an interview with The Guardian, Colman spoke about her approach to acting: “I don’t think I’m particularly good at acting, but I am good at being other people. And that’s what I enjoy doing.” This commitment to embodying her characters has led to some of her most memorable performances, such as her portrayal of a grieving mother in “The Crown” or her turn as the eccentric Queen Anne in “The Favourite”.

Personal Life:

Colman met Ed Sinclair, a third-year law student who had grown disillusioned with law and preferred writing, while they were both appearing in a Footlights production of Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s Table Manners in the late ’90s. They tied the knot in August 2001, and now Colman and Sinclair are raising three kids together. Location: South London.

Colman has been serving as a judge at the Norwich Film Festival since 2013. She was one of two hundred well-known people who opposed Scottish independence in a letter to The Guardian in August 2014, ahead of that year’s referendum in September. In 2020 November, she criticised violence and discrimination towards trans women by signing an open letter.

Impact on the Industry:

Olivia Colman’s impact on the acting industry cannot be overstated. She has become a role model for young actors, particularly women, who are looking to break into the industry and create authentic, emotionally resonant performances.

In addition to her acting talent, Colman has also become known for her humility and kindness on set. She is often praised by her colleagues for her generosity and willingness to help others improve their performances.

Olivia Colman Filmography:

Year Title Role Notes
TBA Wicked Little Letters Edith Swan Filming; also producer
2023 Wonka TBA Post-production
2022 Joyride Joy
Empire of Light Hilary Small
Scrooge: A Christmas Carol Past Voice
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
2021 The Mitchells vs. the Machines PAL Voice
Mothering Sunday Mrs. Clarrie Niven
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain Narrator
The Lost Daughter Leda Caruso Also executive producer
Ron’s Gone Wrong Donka Pudowski Voice
2020 The Father Anne
2019 Them That Follow Hope Slaughter
2018 The Favourite Queen Anne
2017 Murder on the Orient Express Hildegard Schmidt
2015 The Lobster Hotel Manager
Thomas & Friends:

Sodor’s Legend of the Lost Treasure

Marion Voice; English dub
London Road Julie
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
2013 I Give It a Year Linda
Locke Bethan Maguire Voice
2012 Hyde Park on Hudson Queen Elizabeth
2011 Tyrannosaur Hannah
Arrietty Homily Voice; UK dub
The Iron Lady Carol Thatcher
2009 Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee Olivia
2007 Hot Fuzz PC Doris Thatcher
Grow Your Own Alice
I Could Never Be Your Woman Hairdresser
Dog Altogether Anita Short film
2006 Confetti Joanna Roberts
2005 Zemanovaload TV Producer
One Day Ian’s Mother Short film
2004 Terkel in Trouble Terkel’s Mother Voice; English dub

Olivia Colman Television:

Year Title Role Notes
2023 Great Expectations Miss Havisham Miniseries
Secret Invasion Sonya Falsworth Upcoming miniseries
2022–present Heartstopper Sarah Nelson 6 episodes
2021 Trip Hazard: My Great British Adventure Narrator 4 episodes
Landscapers Susan Edwards 4 episodes

Also executive producer

Superworm Narrator Television special
2020 The Simpsons Lily Voice; Episode: “The 7 Beer Itch”
Becoming You Narrator 6 episodes
Cinderella: A Comic Relief Pantomime for Christmas Fairy Godmother Television special
2019–2020 The Crown Queen Elizabeth II 20 episodes
2019 Les Misérables Madame Thénardier 4 episodes
2018 Flatpack Empire Narrator 3 episodes
Natural World Narrator Episode: “The Super Squirrels”
Watership Down Strawberry Voice; 4 episodes
2017 Inside Dior Narrator 2 episodes
2016–2019 Fleabag Godmother 9 episodes
2016–2018 Flowers Deborah Flowers 12 episodes
The Secret Life of the Zoo Narrator 35 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 special
2014–2018 Thomas & Friends Marion Voice; 9 episodes
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”
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
2013–2017 Broadchurch DS Ellie Miller 24 episodes
2012 Accused Sue Brown Episode: “Mo and Sue’s Story”
Bad Sugar Joan Cauldwell Television film
2011–2012 Twenty Twelve Sally Owen 10 episodes
2011 Comic Relief: Uptown Downstairs Abbey O’Brien Television film
Exile Nancy Ronstadt 3 episodes
2010–2014 Rev. Alex Smallbone 19 episodes
2010 Doctor Who Prisoner Zero Episode: “The Eleventh Hour”
2009 Skins Gina Campbell Episode: “Naomi”
Midsomer Murders Bernice Episode: “Small Mercies”
Mister Eleven Beth Paley 2 episodes
2008, 2018 Would I Lie to You? Herself 2 episodes
2008–2009 Beautiful People Debbie Doonan 12 episodes
2008 Love Soup Penny Episode: “Integrated Logistics”
Hancock and Joan Marion Television film
Consuming Passions Janet Bottomley

Violetta Kiss

Television film
2007 The Grey Man Linda Dodds Television film
The Time of Your Life Amanda 6 episodes
2006–2008 That Mitchell and Webb Look Various characters 13 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”
2004–2006 Green Wing Harriet Schulenburg 18 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”
2003–2015 Peep Show Sophie Chapman 32 episodes
2003 Gash Various characters 3 episodes
Eyes Down Mandy Foster Episode: “Stars in Their Eyes”
The Strategic Humour Initiative Various characters Television film
2002 Rescue Me Paula Episode: “1.4”
Holby City Kim Prebble Episode: “New Hearts, Old Scores”
The Office Helena Episode: “Interview”
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”
2000 Bruiser Various characters 6 episodes

Olivia Colman Theatre:

Year Title Role Theatre
2017 Mosquitoes Jenny Royal National Theatre, London
2012 Hay Fever Myra Arundel Noël Coward Theatre, London
2009 England People Very Nice Philippa Royal National Theatre, London
2000 Long Day’s Journey into Night Cathleen Lyric Theatre, London


Olivia Colman has also been involved in a number of philanthropic efforts throughout her career. She is an ambassador for the charity Action for Children, which works to support vulnerable children and families across the UK.

In addition to her work with Action for Children, Colman has also supported other charitable causes such as Save the Children and the Alzheimer’s Society. Her commitment to using her platform to make a positive difference in the world is yet another reason why she is so beloved by fans and colleagues alike.


Olivia Colman is a rare talent in the acting industry, combining authenticity, emotional depth, and versatility in every performance. Her rise to international fame has been a joy to watch, and her impact on the industry is sure to be felt for years to come.

As she continues to take on new challenges and inspire new generations of actors, we can’t wait to see what Olivia Colman will do next. She is a true gem in the world of entertainment, and we are lucky to have her.