Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Olivia Colman on why playing Queen Elizabeth is much harder than Queen Anne

2 January 2019
Share this:

Olivia Colman is having quite the regal year! The British actress has won rave reviews for her portrayal of Queen Anne in The Favourite, while fans are eagerly anticipating her turn as Queen Elizabeth II in the third season of The Crown. But the two roles couldn't be more different - and the 44-year-old says one monarch was more challenging to play than the other.

"I find the harder is Queen Elizabeth because everyone knows what she looks like, everyone knows what she sounds like, everyone has an opinion on whether the casting is right" Olivia explained with a smirk, alluding to the fact that she's taking over the role from Claire Foy, who delighted fans with her portrayal of the Queen in the first two seasons.

But it's just the type of challenge she signed on for! "I am loving, I'm loving the job, I'm loving trying to play her but I find her harder, and the difference between the two, I mean, playing different people is what I went into this job for. That's the whole point I think of being an actor, so I'm having a lovely time."

Olivia has taken on a number of major events in Her Majesty's life as the beloved series tackles the '60s and '70s. These include crowning Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales, the devastating Aberfan tragedy of 1966, Winston Churchill's funeral and the Queen's visit to the Duke of Windsor during a trip to France in 1972. And despite the highs and lows of the Queen's life during this period, the actress revealed on the Graham Norton Show that being less emotional has been a great challenge, too.

Olivia looked just like Her Majesty while filming a visit to Aberfan. Photos: © Shutterstock, Stan Meagher/Express/Getty Images

"If someone says something sad I can't help myself and start crying, which is not what the Queen does," she explained of the stoic monarch, who is meant to be a rock for those around her. "So they film quite a lot of the back of my head on those days and they've come up with a trick. They give me an earpiece and play the Shipping Forecast to me. So, I just tune into that and try not to listen to my fellow actors. It helped enormously!"

Her celebrated role in The Favourite is much different in tone, as the black comedy sees two women (played by Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz) attempting to woo sickly Queen Anne in the 18th century. In addition to taking home the coveted Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival, Olivia was thrilled to reunite with director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster) and tackle another complex ruler.

Olivia has been getting rave reviews for her portrayal of Queen Anne in The Favourite

"I think she wanted to be seen as a good queen but she just didn't have the confidence to do it. I never saw her as pathetic. I'm quite proud of her," she said of Anne. "There's so much sadness in her background, she must have been terribly lonely because in her position you never really know if people genuinely like you or if it's only because you're the Queen."

Sign up to HELLO Daily! for the best royal, celebrity and lifestyle coverage

By entering your details, you are agreeing to HELLO! Magazine User Data Protection Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, please click here.