What’s Not to Love about Olivia Colman, the Queen of Everydayness?

Pop Culture

What’s Not to Love about Olivia Colman, the Queen of Everydayness?

Illustration: Akshita Monga


he first time I came across the sheer brilliance of Oscar-winning actress, Olivia Colman was while watching The Lobster. In this Yorgos Lanthimos absurdist black comedy, people turned into animals if they couldn’t find love within 45 days. In the film, Colman essayed the manager of the hotel that houses many such scared individuals desperate to partner up. She goes about her business with a poker face, never once betraying her interest or emotions for the guests or the old man she calls “partner”. It’s almost impossible to not grin stupidly when Colman tells David (Colin Farrell) very matter-of-factly that he needs to think properly before choosing which animal he will become when he ends up alone. “A wolf and a camel could never live together, nor could a camel and hippopotamus. That would be absurd,” she advises him with zero hint of irony. It was a screen presence so steeped in irreverence, that the limited runtime of her performance ceased to matter.

After The Lobster, I gobbled up everything I found with Colman in it. If Meryl Streep makes ordinary scripts extraordinary simply through her silver-haired, gorgeous presence, then Colman does the same, but with her everydayness – that delightfully quotidian manner of being; of stating the most obvious things without making any brouhaha about it. And in doing so, Colman – set to replace Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth, the world’s most famous matriarch in Netflix’s The Crown blends the banality of real life into her signature talent.