Olivia Colman scored her 5th Emmy nomination at the 73rd Emmy Awards. She received an acting nomination for her outstanding leading role in Netflix‘ ‘The Crown‘ for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II. She is joined by on screen daughter-in-law Emma Corrin (Princess Diana).
‘The Crown‘ received a total of 23 nominations, including: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama series (Josh O‘Connor), Drama Series, Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (Claire Foy), Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (Charles Dance), outstanding Supporting actress in a drama series (Gillian Anderson, Helena Bonham Carter and Emerald Fennel), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Tobias Menzies), Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series („Fairytale“ And „War“) and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series („War“), and more.
The winners of the 73rd Emmy Awards will be revealed on September 19, 2021 in Downtown L.A.
A sensitive detective in “Broadchurch”, majestic Elizabeth II in “The Crown” … No matter her character, Olivia Colman has a gift for moving others. Her heartbreaking performance in Florian Zeller’s “The Father”, next to Anthony Hopkins and soon to be in theatres, could earn her a second Oscar.
“You must have talked with so many actors who would give better answers than me!” Sitting in her living room, Olivia Colman looks at her laptop with a saddened smile. In the adjacent room, we hear her dog barking. “I’m not an intellectual, I can’t talk about my acting. I’m scared that by over-analyzing it, I’d lose my spontaneity.” We could expect the English actress, aged 47, who had her breakthrough as sensitive detective Ellie Miller in the crime drama Broadchurch and who delivered a remarkable performance as Elizabeth II in the historical series The Crown, to be a bit blasé.
Despite the critics’ praise and a shower of prizes on both sides of the Atlantic, she actually shows a disarming modesty. When winning an Oscar for best actress in a leading role for The Favourite by Yorgos Lanthimos, in 2019, she showed up on stage and laughed “This is hilarious! This is not going to happen again”. But here she is nominated in the “best supporting actress” category for The Father and only a few days away from a possible second win during the Oscars ceremony on April, 25th.
“I dare you to not start crying when Anthony Hopkins is sitting right in front of you!”
In this adaptation by the French director Florian Zeller of his own play Le Père, she portrays Anne, the daughter of an old man who is suffering from dementia (Anthony Hopkins) and who loses his touch with reality. “She sees him falling apart and is forced to go from child to parent,” says Olivia Colman, who delivers a performance full of contrasts, who goes from melancholia to distress, from laughter to tears, without ever giving the impression of forcing it. A challenge in what she calls a “room movie”, and a new illustration of the intensity of her acting? “Ah! No, it was easy, Florian’s script is so beautiful, so detailed and delicate, that I did not have to think too much about it. And I dare you to not start crying when Anthony Hopkins is sitting right in front of you!”
“She always wants to do better, with a vulnerability, a form of insecurity that seems unlikely in such a performer.” analyzes Florian Zeller, who sees in her simply “the best British actress of the moment”. A humbleness that goes back to the beginnings of a woman, native to the rural East of England. “I was around 16 when I first started thinking about becoming an actress, but I didn’t think I had the right to do it,” she recalls. “I had no idea how to do it. Just like when we are kids, we go to the circus but this wonder seems inaccessible.”
She enrols at Cambridge University and intends to do a “normal job” but abandons the idea after one semester— “Thank God, I would have been a terrible teacher!”. It is then, that she joins an amateur theatre group before getting into the prestigious Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, at the end of the 1990’s.
For her final exams, she must convince a jury of her acting skills in under a minute. “In such little time, I decided that it would be easier to make them laugh rather than cry. Pulling a face has an immediate effect. A sad face takes longer to touch your heart.” A choice that sums up the follow- up of her career, going into comedy. David Mitchell and Robert Webb, two young amateurs she met at Cambridge, help her make her debut in the BBC sitcom Peep Show, starting in 2003. She portrays Sophie, a young and unstable woman.
“Her face is so versatile and has such expressivity that all emotions can appear on it successively.” Florian Zeller, director of “The Father”
Everybody thinks she’s hilarious except for herself, of course. “They needed a woman, they thought I was funny and I was available. It allowed me to have “actress” on my passport, it was glorious.” Also seen in an episode of The Office in 2002, Olivia Colman often comes back to her first love comedy, notably in 2016, in the TV show Fleabag, as impossible Godmother, “awful but delicious, unbearable with a smile”.
Around 2010, she starts to go to castings for drama movies. The actor and screenwriter Paddy Considine gives her a chance in Tyrannosaur (2011) in which she portrays a victim of domestic violence who meets a grieving man (Peter Mullan). “The movie is tough, its subject is so serious… I was terrified.” With an astonishing fragility and contained anger, she collects her first awards and catches the attention of the television writer Chris Chibnall, who was then working on Broadchurch.
Alongside David Tennant, she transforms a classical figure from the small screen, a troubled policewoman, into an ordinary woman at the centre of a tragedy, who holds in her anxiety, the impossibility to confront the inexpressible. An introspective, intimate approach, sublimed by her capacity to convey a vast variety of emotions with one single glance. “The physiognomy of Olivia allows her to be every age, to go from a vulnerable young girl to a mean old woman”, says Florian Zeller. “Her face is so versatile and has such expressivity that all emotions can appear on it successively.”
In 2014, Olivia Colman meets Yorgos Lanthimos – “I had seen his movie Dogtooth (2009) and I wondered what was possibly going on in his head!” The Greek filmmaker offers her a part in The Lobster, her first work with Lanthimos, as the director of a hotel where single people, all of them societal outcasts, come to spend their last moments. An embarrassing character, between grotesque and terror, who fits well with Colman and who marks the beginning of a collaboration that will turn into another shared project, four years later: The Favourite.
“Her emotional intelligence is astonishing. She seems to be able to get to her inner self effortlessly.” Florian Zeller, director and writer of The Father
Yorgos had a vision and let me participate. The view of the writer is the only thing that usually matters; to take into count another one might give it a twist. Her interpretation of Queen Anne of England, unhappy sovereign, stubborn and sick, in the 18th century, confirms her talent to move others, even in the skin of unbearable characters. “There is something so warm in her that all her roles become sympathetic, echoing her nature” sums up Tobias Menzies, who plays Prince Philip next to her in The Crown.
Olivia Colman has a simpler explanation: “I don’t like playing, I’m only being myself.“ She brings her own experience to all her roles. For The
Father, it was the memory of her mother who worked as a nurse in a clinic for Alzheimer’s patients, and the familiarity of Anthony Hopkins as a paternal figure – “I know his face so well, I’ve seen him so many times on stage, on the tv, in the newspapers that part of myself was saying “My God, Anthony Hopkins is not doing well, he is in front of me and his life is falling apart.”
Florian Zellers confirms: “Her emotional intelligence is astonishing. She seems to be able to get to her inner self effortlessly and can project her own effects on her co-stars as if they were her husband, her sister or here, her own father. She truly was overwhelmed by Anthony.”
The change from work to reality pleases her even more, so that this role seems distant, just like the two sovereigns she portrayed simultaneously in The Favourite and The Crown. Queen Anne is angry? Olivia Colman uses it to unwind herself. “Usually, I never lose my temper. Not one single argument in 27 years of marriage. But I love playing someone who gets angry. That may be the reason why I’m a joyful person: I put all my negative vibes into my job.”
Elizabeth II is impassive? “A rock that is not supposed to fall apart in front of others, just like me.” During the scenes that affect her the most, the actress even uses an earpiece that transmits the weather forecast. “At the risk of being a bit impolite and not listening to what my fellow actors say”, she joked on the BBC in 2018.
“To play a super-villain in a Marvel production, that would be amazing, I would have to work out and learn how to fly!”
After The Father, expected to be released in France when theatres open again, we will see her in The Lost Daughter, an adaptation of the novel “The Lost Daughter” by the Italian writer Elena Ferrante (My brilliant friend) and the first motion picture project of colleague Maggie Gyllenhaal. Is she waiting for a blockbuster? “I must have sent a million e- mails to my agent asking to find me a role in a Marvel movie. A supervillain, that would be amazing, I would have to work out and learn how to fly!” she says excitingly while swinging on her chair. We’ll have to wait for a long time if we ever want to see the day when Olivia Colman will be blasé…
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In The Father, the Oscar-winning actress plays a woman caring for her ageing dad, who is suffering from dementia. It’s incredibly moving—and her performance has already earned her another Oscar nomination.
Vogue- Shot almost entirely in one location over just a few weeks, with only a few costume changes and no rehearsals—very little about The Father is what you might expect.
It’s the greatest strength of this powerful new film, starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, both of whom have been Oscar-nominated for their performances. The movie follows their relationship as a father and daughter, living together in a London flat and preparing for the next stage of their lives. Because Anthony (Hopkins), has dementia, and though he doesn’t quite realise it, his daughter Anne (Colman) is struggling to care for him on her own. Based on a play by the film’s director Florian Zeller, the movie takes you inside Anthony’s mind as it breaks down, deftly weaving truths and fictions together in a way that is both devastating and disorienting as well as, ultimately, empathetic. You will cry—a lot. But you will also find yourself reflecting on life, and death, long after you leave the cinema.
Colman is the anchor of the film and its emotional heart. She has such a quiet intimacy with Hopkins that it’s hard to believe The Father is only their first film together. There’s one scene after they’ve had a miscommunication, in which Anne carefully, but silently, helps her dad into a sweater. That short moment says so much more about their relationship, and about Colman’s character’s resilience, than any shouty argument scene ever could. A lesser film than The Father, and a lesser actor than Colman, would definitely have opted for the latter.
Here, Colman talks about her personal relationship to the story of The Father, and how making the movie helped her reflect on her own parents—and her own life.
VOGUE AUSTRALIA: You play Anne, who’s torn between wanting to do the best for her father, and still wanting to live her life. Did the part speak to you personally?
OLIVIA COLMAN: “Yes, I’m at that time of life in my forties when I have children who still need looking after, and my parents are also getting older. They’re in pretty good health at the moment, but it was an eye-opener to work with Tony in The Father and see the child become the carer. It speaks to everyone across all generations because unless you do die young, you’ll end up old. You could end up playing tennis until you’re ninety, and die in your sleep, or you may have to deal with dementia and so will your family. It’s hard to explain what the experience of filming was like, it felt completely real and beautiful. Being there in a scene with Tony when he’s confused, or sad, it was really heart-breaking and hard to do. I think that’s also because, as Anthony Hopkins, we know his face and we’ve loved him for years, that it can feel overwhelming to see him like that. It feels pretty raw. It really made me think that I don’t know how people manage to hold their parents’ hands and watch them go through something like this. I keep on hoping this can be avoided for my folks.”
VA: At this stage in your career, how do you choose a project?
OC: “It’s all in the script for me. That’s probably the same for most actors, but I also know that I feel a little bit guilty, I feel bad about saying no. But you just know when there’s a script that’s really special, and then I am very uncool about it, and I say, ‘yes please’ because I’m not good about playing the game and saying, ‘that’s alright, but I may be a bit busy.’ I’m afraid I don’t do that. I have to get better at saying no! But when a script’s really good, like this one, it’s a no brainer.”
VA: You didn’t rehearse scenes in The Father. How was that for you, given time is out of sequence in the film?
OC: “I think both myself and Anthony like working without rehearsals. Listening to Florian’s vision, he wanted to use the power of cinema instead of theatre. In theatre you have to rehearse, you have to know exactly where you’re going to stand because you don’t want surprises in front of an audience. But with filming, it can produce something that’s very real and very natural and that’s the way we wanted to work anyway. If you know the script and you trust each other, then you can just let it happen. It was Florian’s first film and he was extraordinary, ten times better than most directors who’ve made ten films. He was so instinctive and beautiful and kind. We felt safe and so rehearsals or no rehearsals, with Florian in charge, we were happy.”
VA: Did Florian Zeller give you any cues for the sense of disorientation that’s at the heart of the film?
OC: “I’ve never read a script where you’re in the head of someone suffering from dementia. It was a real insight into how confusing and disorientating it was. I think a lot of the sense of confusion came from the set we worked on because it was like another character. It would subtly change depending upon what was happening in the film, adding to the sense of disorientation of Anthony’s character, who thought he was in his own apartment. It would also become my flat or the doctor’s surgery, depending upon where we were in the film. I found it really helpful to have our environment changing all around us. We’d step onto set day after day and it would have changed colours. It was weird because it would still stay the same size and have the same doors. Those physical changes definitely helped us.”
VA: Your mother worked as a geriatric nurse. Did that influence you in the role at all?
OC: “She was an incredible nurse before she retired. Her passion was geriatric care and she was nursing long before I was born. She was—is—just a kind person who would look after anyone. Maybe there was an influence there in taking the part but I’m unaware of it. She’s got endless patience and I’ve never seen her lose her temper, apart from when she’s driving!”
VA: Did filming The Father make you reflect more on your life?
OC: “It did make me think of my parents. Ageing can be so cruel and rude. It’s hard to think of my parents, because my mum and dad are still madly in love, and it’s unfair to think that they grunt when they sit down now and have aches and pains because they’re getting on in age. You think, ‘that’s where I am going’ and actually, that’s where you hope you are going because hopefully you’ll end up old, and happy and fulfilled. Filming The Father did make me think of them and how pleased I am that they’re still together and happy.”
Florian Zeller’s “The Father” is getting the big-screen treatment! Academy Award winners Olivia Colman and Anthony Hopkins lead the adaptation, which is now out in select theatres and will be available to stream on-demand on March 26th.
Here are some reviews…
Deadline: “Zeller has employed mind-bending technique and some visual trickery to put us directly into the mind of Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), the ageing father of Anne (Olivia Colman), as he slips ever so slowly deeper into dementia. Unlike most recent dramas on this subject – movies like Still Alice, which won an Oscar for Julianne Moore, and Away From Her with an Oscar-nominated turn from Julie Christie – this film does not go down the more predictable path in showing the devastating effects of seeing this overtake a loved one. Instead, we witness it as Anthony witnesses it, an ever-changing environment that may – or may not – be real, but is apparently reality to this man.”
The Wrap: “As Anthony Hopkins masterfully portrays a man slipping further and further into dementia, the film captures the terrifying sensation of not remembering and not understanding the people and places around us, and the helplessness of having to have your reality explained to you. It is an unsettling film, but it’s also a compassionate one; family members of those suffering from dementia can turn to it for an empathetic portrait of how that disorientation must feel on the inside. It’s one of the most disturbing films in recent memory, but it’s both understanding and unforgettable.”
Associated Press: “Terrifically acted and finely crafted though it is, it’s brilliant”
The Wall Street Journal: “What might have been predictable or sentimental in other hands becomes startling in the film’s approach, as well as beguiling, unsparing, terribly moving and occasionally very funny. Anne, portrayed poignantly by Ms Colman, has her own delusional notions, mainly the possibility that her father will rally and get better.”
USA Today: “Hopkins is astounding when navigating all these various states of mind – from righteous anger to withering spitefulness to a child-like vulnerability – that play out as Anthony loses control of his life. Even though the part isn’t conventionally showy, Hopkins gets to touch every bit of the emotional spectrum and the result is as indelible a role as when Hopkins donned Hannibal’s mask and won an Oscar for ‘The Silence of the Lambs.'”Colman, a couple of years removed from taking best actress for “The Favourite,” is also understatedly superb as a woman dealing with all of this.
Entertainment Weekly: “Though nearly of all this takes place inside apartment walls, Zeller somehow staves off claustrophobia; there’s a warm, painterly quality to the light that pours in, and a graceful pacing to the script (translated and adapted by Atonement screenwriter Christopher Hampton) that allows its growing resonance to creep in, quietly.”
Los Angeles Times: “‘The Father,’ in other words, is both a detective story and a study in confinement, a mystery set within the labyrinthine recesses of a deteriorating mind. The original play (whose English translator, Christopher Hampton, is credited alongside Zeller for the screenplay) availed itself of the natural abstractions of theatrical space, turning the stage into a psychological hall of mirrors. But Zeller, making an elegant and incisive feature debut, finds an ideal equivalent within the more realistic parameters of the movie screen.“The Father” may be a remarkable feat of sustained identification, but beyond the margins of Anthony’s experience — and primarily in the figure of Anne, whom Colman brings to aching, tremulous life — we catch glimpses of other characters and other stories: a terrible accident, a broken marriage, a second chance at love.”
Rolling Stone: “The Father is as much about living with dementia as the afflicted as it is about caring for such a person and, in the process, seeing the slow whittling-away of their senses over time. It’s about what it feels like to see – from outside, from within – an inexplicable rip in the fabric of one man’s reality. Within this complex framework is a whirlwind of feelings anchored by Colman, whose pain is loud despite a performance predicated on quiet, and Hopkins, whose ageing, sharp-witted Anthony proves only too human. ”
The New York Times: “Combining mystery and psychodrama, ‘The Father’ is a majestic depiction of things falling away: People, surroundings and time itself are becoming ever more slippery. As if to enforce order on days that keep eluding him, Anthony clings obsessively to his watch. And there is love in “The Father” — most of it radiating from Colman’s wonderfully warm presence — but there’s no sugarcoating: Compassionate yet unsparing, the movie is more likely to give you nightmares than warm fuzzies.”
Vulture: “As Anne, Colman offers up shattered smiles and extends endless patience while entertaining a dark fantasy of smothering Anthony in his sleep. As Anthony, Hopkins leans into the character’s capacity for cruelty as well as his vulnerability, working himself into a crescendo of outrage or cutting Anne to the quick with accusations of theft or by insisting that her sister — whose absence he laments with the blitheness of someone who has forgotten what happened — was always his favourite. Hopkins, who shows no signs of slowing down at 83, has always been capable of exuding authority and distinction, but as Anthony, he deftly toggles between bluster and vulnerability. Anthony may not have been an especially warm figure in his prime, but Hopkins makes it painfully clear that dementia is stripping him of any dignity. Masterful and agonizing, The Father is a gorgeously crafted film about a doomed arrangement entered into with love, even though it can only end in tragedy.”
TIME – “Colman follows along in this dance, responding to a man she loves but no longer understands. Anne has a sister who has died, and Anthony hasn’t grasped that his other daughter is gone for good. He sometimes berates the one who remains, stating outright that the other was his favourite. Colman, such a wondrous actor, registers these shifts in the same way the texture and light of the moon seems to change with tiny variances in the atmosphere. She’s both pained and helpless, experiencing feelings that anyone who has spent time around an unpredictable fellow human, particularly an elderly one, can recognize.”
Decider– “Olivia Colman once again proves she is the best of the best. In her role as Anne, the daughter that Hopkins only sometimes recognizes, she conveys her character’s yearning, jealously, and despair in just a single glance—and she does it far better than others could with a 10-minute monologue. She is truly the master.”  
Thrillist- “Anne is not the careless next of kin he sometimes envisions her as. Colman, who was nominated for an Oscar in the supporting category. Her work is gutting. She wears the pain of anyone who has had to deal with an elderly loved one on her face, the mix of hurt and resignation flashing in her eyes when he doesn’t recognize her or can’t remember where he is. ”
CINE-VUE – “Hopkins and Colman conjure between them a lifetime of love, regret and unspoken (or perhaps half-forgotten) grievances. Colman, in particular, evokes deep wells of pain in tiny glances and gestures, wincing every time Anthony blithely mentions her favoured but absent younger sister.”
Datebook- “In “The Father,” we see a man slipping out to sea, but we experience this viscerally so that sea seems to be slipping into us. His mind is breaking up like an iceberg, and what’s left are chunks of dreamworld and, occasionally, the face of the less-favoured daughter. As the daughter, Colman is a portrait of guilt, fear, doubt and exhaustion — combined with the residual eagerness of a child who wasn’t loved enough.”
Roger Ebert.com – “His daughter, Anne, Olivia Colman is consistently his equal. She, too, must ride this roller coaster and struggle to put on a British, stiff upper lip within a situation that’s steadily crumbling. She’ll manage a smile as tears well in her eyes or flinch ever so slightly yet maintain her patience when her father says something rude and insulting. As our guide—as much as Zeller will allow us one—Colman is tremendous as always.”
Variety– “All the actors in “The Father” are vivid, Colman brings her role a loving vulnerability that warms you…”
Film Threat– “Olivia Colman’s always been fabulous, but since the early days of Peep Show, Colman has matured into one of our best leading actresses, and her rise to stardom has been incredible to watch. So radiant as the Queen in Yorgos Nathimos’ The Favourite, here she wisely allows Hopkins to take centre stage, but more than holds her own in scenes so achingly real, I defy your tears to stay in those ducts.”
Guardian– “It’s Hopkins’ show but Colman gets some impactful moments along the way and the film is generous enough to understand that it’s an unbearably frustrating process for those around someone with the condition as well. As one might expect, The Father is a hopeless tale, with Zeller taking us down further as the condition worsens with the knowledge that things won’t be getting any better, that he won’t be getting out. It’s an experience many people will understandably want to avoid, existing just too close to home for a lot of us, easily swapping out Hopkins and inserting a family member in his place. But for those who can stomach it, it’ll stay with you, for longer than you might like.”
Screenrant– “While the audience is swept away into the maze of Anthony’s mind, the more grounded moments in The Father stem from Colman’s Anne, who is patient, loving, and fraying at the edges, caught between maintaining her strength and crying as she watches her father deteriorate. Colman, as always, is exceptional. While the film isn’t focused on her as much as Anthony, her emotions are equally on display.”
The Film Stage– “Similar praise goes to Colman too, what with her strong work in internalizing her emotions. The two performances show themselves as increasingly complementary as well, what with Hopkins’s confusion and Colman’s shifts between what may or may not be illusions of Anthony’s mind. It largely comes back to Zeller and Christopher Hampton’s script, which flirts with a medley of points of view without clarifying itself until the end.”
Rogers Movie Nation– “Colman gives us glimpses of the heartache and guilt a child feels over being unable to do more for a parent that has become more than a mere relative can handle…And Hopkins, Colman, Williams, Sewell and Poots give us an eyeful and earful of a fate awaiting far too many of us in this quietly gripping and intimate drama.”
The Playlist– “Colman can imply more with a slight tilt of the head or partial smile than 99% of her peers. Colman’s work here may be yet another example of how she has hit a career-best stride. The pain Hopkins and Colman carry in their characters can do wonders, however”
The Stranger– “Colman and especially Hopkins are giving what may be the performances of their careers. Colman projects a lifetime of trauma, hope, and frustration all within her eyes, while Hopkins is simultaneously fragile, boisterous, and terrified as a man trapped in shifting realities.”
Original Cin– “For those who tremble in the presence of outstanding performances, The Father will hit like an earthquake. Hopkins and Colman are unspeakably good in their roles. Hopkins is too recognizable to forget who he is, and Colman has reached a level of unavoidable familiarity…The Father is one of the few genuinely deserving titles in this year’s Oscar run, earning its recent nominations for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, a Best Actor nod for Hopkins, and Best Supporting for Colman. ”
Looper- “Colman is no less impressive in her work. Scenes call for her to not only reinforce the love she has for her father, but also the frustration that punctuates her every conversation with him. She patiently states the same facts to him time and again, indulging his suspicions and assuaging his fears, all the while giving brief glimpses into her (possible? probable?) desire to break free and move to Paris with a new boyfriend, even capturing herself at one point fantasizing about finishing his life with her own hands.”
Boston Globe- “Colman gives Anne layers of sadness, frustration, and forbearance.”
FlixChatter Film Blog- “I’ve always been a longtime fan of Olivia Colman who seems really kind and good-natured in person. This compassionate, empathetic character seems to be made for her as Anne’s patience with her ailing father seems limitless. Even when her dad is often crass and unfeeling towards her by constantly bringing up his favourite daughter Lucy. Anne’s mental anguish is palpable and that brutal honesty is so moving. It’s a deeply emotional and nuanced performance that feels true without resorting to over-sentimentality.”
Phoenix Film Festival- “Both Colman and Hopkins deliver Oscar-worthy performances. She’s a deeply caring, thoughtful daughter who doesn’t lash out at her dad, but she’s under constant duress by internalizing his disarray while simultaneously struggling to maintain a sense of normalcy. Hopkins drives the narrative, and Colman follows his lead, as Anthony involuntarily reverse-calibrates his and Anne’s lives in micro-increments that deliver immediate grief, but also a profound sense of loss of a once-dependable and harmonious relationship. A heartbreaking and permanent loss.”
The Movie Cricket- “Hopkins is electric here, playing off the always-brilliant Colman and his other solid castmates to create a tragic and indelible portrait of a man desperately clinging to some shred of his identity.”
Spiritually Practice- “Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman each give Academy-Award calibre performances but what really makes The Father shine is its admirable blend of sunshine and shadows.”
Culture Mix- “Viewers are taken on a harrowing ride that feels like an endless loop of uncertainty and confusion, anchored by outstanding performances from Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman… Colman convincingly expresses the heartbreak of who someone who feels helpless to stop a loved one’s inevitable decline.”
What’s Up Newp- “What’s most remarkable about The Father is how compellingly it manages to convey Anne’s experience without compromising its conceit. The film’s chronology, which seemingly belongs to Anthony, is just as resonant for Colman’s character; in each interaction, she cannot know whether her father will be warm, cruel, or unable to recognize her, and without shared memory to carry those moments forward, does when they happen even matter anymore? This dual-functionality speaks to the quality of the screenplay, as well as Zeller’s direction – in a year with a few high-profile theatrical adaptations, The Father is arguably the most cinematic-feeling of them all.”
The Harvard Crimson– Actors do the switch in and out for certain characters, but for the most part, Olivia Colman remains in the film as Anne. Colman is tasked with portraying the myriad of conflicting emotions felt by someone whose loved one suffers from dementia. She is resistant to the idea of putting him in a nursing home, even though caring for him herself is an enormous undertaking. Especially in her character’s private moments, Colman lets the immense grief she feels rise to the surface, quiet tears and trembling hands reflecting her interiority. Most of all though, Colman’s portrayal of Anne is a touching testament to unconditional love — even when Anthony lashes out at her, her unbowing loyalty to him is palpable. Subtle gestures, like the way she smiles when he compliments her hair, or the way she reaches out to hold his hand after a doctor’s appointment, are enough to reveal how much she cares for her father.
Financial Review– “The versatile Colman puts in an excellent performance as the daughter caught between love for her father, a sense of filial duty, and sheer exasperation”
This Is Film- “Colman similarly follows suit, shading her performance with light and darkness that expresses how much she loves a man that she no longer understands. Williams, Sewell, Gatiss, and the so-far unmentioned Imogen Poots, whose turn as Anthony’s new in-home carer leads to some of the film’s most agonising material, are all equally stellar, but The Father‘s heart is between Hopkins and Colman, with the two navigating this traumatic exquisiteness to fruition, resulting in a film that’s practically a relief on the senses once it has culminated.”
ET Online- Olivia Colman doesn’t remember much about the night she won her Oscar. She had been nominated for her performance in The Favourite, though in an especially tight Best Actress race, Glenn Close was the presumed frontrunner. But then the envelope was opened, and Frances McDormand read off Colman’s name. “This is hilarious,” she spluttered onstage, visibly dazed even as she cradled the gold statuette in her arms. “I’ve got an Oscar.”
Through tears, Colman thanked her co-stars and crew, as well as Close (“This is not how I wanted it to be!”) and her children, who she hoped were watching at home. (“This is not going to happen again.”) She wrapped up her speech by exclaiming both about and towards her fellow nominee: “Lady Gaga!”
“I can’t remember what I said. I only know because I’ve seen it played back now,” she tells ET over Zoom from her home in London. “I can’t remember what happened afterwards. My husband said it was the best night of his life. And had it been the other way around, if I could have watched him, I understand, I would have loved that, and I would’ve remembered everything. But I’m afraid I still can’t quite believe it happened.”
Contrary to what she said that night, Colman will soon have another chance to relive some of those memories, having earned her second Oscar nomination earlier this month.
This time, the recognition comes for her work in the dementia drama, The Father, which marks the directorial debut of French playwright Florian Zeller, adapted from his own award-winning stage show. The film centres on an ageing patriarch (Anthony Hopkins) struggling to make sense of his progressing memory loss. Unlike other works that have explored the same subject, this is told through Anthony’s perspective, the very fabric of the film — the sets, the timeline, even the actors — shifting as its lead fades into the fog of confusion. We, the viewer, experience what he might be.
“The first time I read it was the first time I’d ever experienced anything written from that point of view,” Colman says. “To suddenly make sense of the confusion because you are as confused. It’s been quite nice to understand where the confusion can stem from. If someone has been gentle in their lives, to suddenly see that they’ve got rage in them, is that the real them? Was the other one not the real them? But it’s OK. We’d all be f**king furious having to deal with this every day.”
Colman plays Anthony’s daughter and de facto caretaker, Anne. The play, and thus the film, was inspired by Zeller’s personal experiences with an ailing grandparent, making Colman’s character something like a surrogate for both himself and the audience. There she is, attendant and infinitely patient as she attempts to mask her breaking heart with a sunshiny hopefulness.
“She’s my favourite actress,” Zeller says of casting Colman. “And I think that the film would not have been the same without her. She has something magical. As soon as you see her, you love her. That was really important for the film because it’s not only about this man losing his bearings. It’s also about his daughter trying to face this situation.”
Zeller had written the script with Hopkins in mind, reasoning that because most people would have become familiar with Sir Anthony Hopkins throughout their lives, playing to his mortality would lend an additional layer of gravitas to the story. Colman found that to be the case when she got to set, explaining, “I’ve grown up with Tony’s face on films and I remember him being interviewed on Parkinson — it’s a chat show in the UK — and he was larger than life, a sort of acting god.”
“So, that made it extra poignant to me, I suppose, to watch this man who I admired so much confused or watch him crumple. All of that stuff in the back of my mind, in my history, helped,” she says. “And he’s so wonderful to act opposite. He is so good that I didn’t have to do anything except to watch him and feel it and react to him.”
The horrors of cognitive degeneration aside, Colman found filming to be especially enjoyable. “I suppose that sounds bonkers,” she laughs. Between takes, she sat with Hopkins and listened to him share stories of his storied life, slipping into impressions of Jimmy Stewart and Frank Sinatra for his delighted one-woman audience.
“I just sat there and I went, ‘Oh, please don’t say that we’re back on set. I’m just loving this so much.’ And he’d lean in and go, ‘Aren’t we lucky? Isn’t life beautiful?'” Colman giggles, trying on her own impression of Hopkins. “And I know there are lots of upsetting pieces in it, but we got to work with amazing people and the moment something sad is finished, you have a cup of tea and a cuddle and go, ‘It’s all right.’ And then you go do something else. You don’t carry on being miserable throughout the day. I wouldn’t be able to cope with that.”
The Father premiered at Sundance in early 2020 with a lauded festival run to follow. Still, Sony Pictures Classics, the studio behind the film, held off its theatrical release until the Oscars’ last eligible weekend, a risky move that nonetheless paid off: Not only is Colman nominated for Best Actress, but The Father is up for Best Picture and Hopkins for Best Actor, among six total nominations.
In an altogether unprecedented awards season, no one knows exactly what to expect from the forthcoming Academy Awards, let alone who might win one. Not that Colman believes it’s something you can ever prepare for, even now two years on from when she won her Oscar.
“I liken it to when I got married, someone said, ‘Every now and then, just pause and have a look and try and remember it all.’ Because it’s so much excitement and such a blur that when it’s all over, you go, ‘Well, all that planning, and I can’t remember it!'” Colman says. “The Oscars were a bit like that, just because I was sort of in a denial all the way. Sort of wafting into it, going, “It’s silly. It’s just silly. It can’t be real, can’t be real, can’t be happening.’ And then it happened.”
The Father is in theatres now and available on-demand on March 26.
don’t forget to check out our gallery for THE FATHER stills and more