Olivia Colman Source

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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GMA News – With the Oscars just around the corner, we would like to focus on four talented veterans this time: Colman, 47, received her second nomination and the first in the same category as Close for her performance as Anne in the drama, “The Father,” where she shared the limelight with Hopkins.

 

We last saw you in London right before the lockdown, and you confessed that you won’t mind staying in your home for a couple of months as you enjoy the privacy. After nine months of lockdown, are you ready to go out and work and enjoy your life?

I miss going to work but actually, I have to say I am probably the only person who I could happily do this for two solid years. I love it.

 

So what are you doing during lockdown?

Cooking, trying to get better at cooking. My husband’s a very good cook. I’m a little bit rubbish but quite good at baking. I am just being at home with the kids.  It felt like an opportunity, to have that much time with school-aged kids will never happen again and so I was just trying to enjoy it and trying to enjoy being with them and try to endear myself to them I suppose (laughs) by making food that they liked.

 

Could you take us to your TV room and describe it? What are your favourite TV shows?

I am in our TV room right now and I’ve tried to make it look as nice as possible. In fact, all the crap is hidden that side of the camera so, you know, dog beds and the cars and there’s a lot of mess but it’s cosy and lived in.

Recently, we’ve been watching as a family. We’ve been watching “Community” because we always try and watch something that we can all watch together.  We went through “New Girl” at the beginning of the lockdown. We watch comedies together and I loved “Normal People.” I was totally obsessed with that but we had ’til the kids had gone to bed to watch that one and there’s “Queen’s Gambit” which I really want to see.

 

What is your TV guilty pleasures?

I do love “Bake Off” and I adore something called “Selling Sunset” recently. I saw one episode of “Selling Sunset” and thought that’s something I could probably get lost in.

 

 

What is your first memory of TV?

So there’s a little girl with a chalkboard. I remember being home from school because I was unwell and we had a black and white telly. She was on it an awful lot and then “Farming Diary” came on. I think there was only “Pebble Men” at 1:00 and “Farming Diary” and that was it until I came home from school and then really there was almost no telly on and it was only two or three channels. My dad would fall asleep in front of the telly and yes then the National Anthem. And then he realized he should go to bed.  Amazing.

 

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In a NZ exclusive Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman talk to Karl Puschmann about their powerful film THE FATHER

 

The New Zealand Herald– The night after watching The Father I woke up panicked. It was still dark and the faint amber glow from my young daughter’s night light in the room across the hall threw uncertain shadows against the wall.

While my mind knew it was merely my dressing gown lazily hanging off the door handle and not a sinister figure lurking in the dark, could my mind really be trusted? Did I know what I thought I knew or was what I knew not what was going on at all? And, if that was the case, then how would I even know?
The truly frightening answer was that I wouldn’t.
This is the fear that Olivia Colman and Anthony Hopkins’ new film The Father instilled. The thought of being trapped inside the fragility of my own decaying mind. A prison made of changing walls, unknowable guards and only fleeting fragments of coherent freedom.
It’s a remarkable and powerful film and one I’d been hesitant to see. A film about a woman caring for her dementia-stricken dad did not sound like my idea of a good time. Even with its superb cast.
But I was drastically wrong. The Father is unlike any medical drama you’ve ever seen. Far from being a weepy Bluesfest – although bring tissues, you’ll need them – it instead plays out like an intense thriller. You’re never sure who or what can be trusted or, indeed, what is even real as events, rooms, people and sense of time all slip and slide into and out of each other.
And at the centre of it all is Hopkins’ character, also named Anthony to add a meta-layer of confusion to the whole thing, working through the mystery of who stole his prized watch as the world shifts around him and as his daughter Anne (Colman) cares for, or perhaps conspires against him.
“I’d never seen this subject matter from this particular point of view,” Colman tells me over Zoom. “You, as the audience, are experiencing the confusion with Anthony.”
“It was a surprise when I got the script,” Hopkins adds. “You’re going through an ordinary day and a script arrives and your agent says, ‘Read it, it’s kinda good.’ Well, I started reading it and thought, ‘Oh God, this is great.'”
Hopkins was in, “thrilled to do it”, he says, but the producers were finding that getting the cash together to make a movie about dementia, no matter how darkly thrilling, was proving a hard sell. Until, all of a sudden, it wasn’t.
“They had to go through the mathematics of getting it financed because it’s difficult to finance films,” Hopkins says. Then, with a small chuckle, he says, “And then Olivia got the Oscar.”
After winning Best Actress at the 2019 Academy Awards for her performance in The Favourite, Colman was in demand. But, she says, the story here was too good to pass up.
“I remember going, ‘Oh… oh, shit! That’s what it’s like.’ Because I had no idea what was happening,” she says recalling how she felt the first time she read the script. “Is he in that room? Did she just leave?… I thought it was brilliant and I wanted to be part of it.”
“And then I heard it was Anthony Hopkins and, well, it was an absolute ‘yes’,” she beams.
The movie has garnered critical acclaim and a whopping six Oscar nominations, including incredibly well deserved nods for Hopkins and Colman in the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories respectively.
But it’s not just a terrific film. It’s bigger than that.
“The Father provides a lot of opportunities to help educate Kiwis in terms of dementia,” says Lisa Burns, the GM of marketing and fundraising at Dementia Auckland. “We struggle with the stigma of this condition and what this film does is open up an empathetic opportunity for people to get a better understanding of what it’s like.”
Currently, 70,000 New Zealanders are living with dementia, so many that it’s been labelled a silent epidemic. As the population ages that number is forecast to explode to 170,000 Kiwis in the next 30 years.
Burns, who lost her grandmother to dementia, describes the film’s depiction as powerful and confronting due to the realistic portrayal of what life’s like for both the person suffering from the illness and their carer.
“Disorientation of time, place, people are common signs of someone with dementia,” she says. “It’s an interesting experience as a viewer going through that confusion – what’s real, what’s not real?”
Hopkins says his startling performance which sees him, at times, be accuser, victim, charmer and aggressor, borrowed aspects from his parents in their older years, although neither suffered dementia, but generously credits most of his work to the script.
“My father didn’t have dementia but he’d be irascible, impatient. Didn’t want any fuss. But it’s in the lines. When Olivia comes into the room and I say, ‘What are you talking about? I don’t need to be looked after!’ Well, that’s easy to play because it’s written,” he smiles. “‘I don’t need to be looked after!’ It doesn’t take a genius to reinterpret that. It’s written down for you.”
Perhaps, but it’s impossible to not be affected by his performance and the film. With the movie now in cinemas, I ask what they personally kept from their characters and the film.
“Well, I’ve actually kept two chairs from the set, does that count? ” Colman laughs, proving herself every bit a delight as you’d hope.
“You did?” Hopkins, chuckles, tickled at the thought.
“I did!” she grins, “But that’s not what you meant is it?”
It wasn’t, but it’s an unforgettable answer.
She may have played the Queen, but Olivia Colman thinks it’s “bizarre” that the monarch is still Australia’s head of state.

 Herald Sun-  She may have played the Queen on The Crown, one of the world’s most popular dramas, but Olivia Colman is just a tiny bit baffled by Australia’s interest in the real-life drama surrounding the real royal family.

“It is a bit bizarre the Queen is still your head of state,” laughs the British actor via Zoom from the London home she shares with her husband, Ed, and three children.

“In Britain, growing up with them always there, you don’t really consider them. It’s like, if you live in Sydney, you probably don’t go to the Opera House.

“I don’t go to all the incredible things in London because they’re there. And it’s the same with the royal family – they were always there so you don’t think about them. I think for people outside of the UK, they’re a much bigger deal. But I could be wrong about that!”

Colman’s stunning performance as Queen Elizabeth II won her huge acclaim (and a Golden Globe), but she says she was more than ready to hand over the reins (or the reign!) to fellow Brit, Imelda Staunton, who takes on the daunting role for the show’s final two seasons.

“I have a short attention span, so playing a role for two years is a long time for me,” Colman says. “And though I was sad to say goodbye to everybody and I really enjoyed it, I was excited to do something different. Playing the Queen, even though she is very strong and stoic and silent and she listens a lot, I wanted to [play a role] where I have a bit of a rant and be less controlled.”

 

FATHER FIGURES

Colman’s new film The Father, based on the award-winning French play, is not exactly a rant-fest but a poignant and deeply emotional ride about a woman dealing with her father’s (Anthony Hopkins) rapidly advancing dementia.

It’s a brutal, heartbreaking film about a topic many of us have either dealt with – or eventually will deal with – the declining health of ageing parents.

“My folks are still around and still together. They’re the late-70s now and there’s no sign of dementia, so hopefully, they’ve escaped it,” Colman says. “Watching that happen to your parents must be tough. I just can’t imagine watching someone that you love and admire go through that.”

Colman says when she found out she was going to star opposite fellow Oscar-winner, Hopkins, in the film she swore – a lot.

“It was like, ‘f—,” Colman laughs. “I mean, can you imagine? I’ve known his face my whole life and everything he’s done – he’s a bit of an acting God to me – and you think to yourself, you’re going to do a job with him. And I was like, ‘f— off, shut up, no way!’. And then he’s so much nicer, he’s so kind, he’s so generous, he’s so f–ing brilliant at his job. Every morning I’d say to my husband, ‘Ha, I’m going to work with Tony Hopkins!’ ”

 

LIGHT RELIEF

Despite the story’s heavy emotional content, Colman says she and Hopkins would crack each other up between scenes. “I know it’s a really hard watch, but we had such a joyful time together; I know that sounds weird, but Tony tells hilarious stories and does amazing impressions. We had a lovely time, and that’s our approach to work anyway – neither of us is very method.

“Tony would lean over and whisper to me, ‘Aren’t we lucky?’ and I’d say, ‘YES!’ ” The role, which has already won her an AACTA (Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards – “I was so thrilled and surprised – I’ve never been to Australia!”), has also landed Colman her second Academy Award nomination. (She won the Best Actress Oscar in 2019 for playing another queen – the wildly eccentric Queen Anne in The Favourite.)

Indeed, in recent years, the 47-year-old’s career has skyrocketed, making her one of Hollywood’s most in-demand actors. And her deserved success is not just for her sheer talent but her incredible versatility; she easily navigates between drama (The Crown, Broadchurch, The Night Manager) and comedy (see her breakout performance in the UK classic, Peep Show, while her biting turn as Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s hideous stepmother in Fleabag literally stole the show).

 

THE REAL DEAL

The utterly charming Colman is also that rare type of Hollywood star – resolutely down to earth, and self-deprecating. “People get too full of themselves,” she has said.

She’s also honest about her insecurities around the constant scrutiny that comes with being in the public eye.

“I’ve got a ring light here which is meant to be more flattering,” she says pointing to a bright light above her computer screen.

“Because the moment there’s a photo from this angle,” she says, pointing up from under her chin, “everyone comments on it and you think, f— off, I wasn’t born a supermodel and I’ve had three children and my body is stretched and bits have drooped and it’s not fair everyone is expected to conform. Because I feel embarrassed if I’m meant to be dressed up for a do, or feel like people are thinking, who does she think she is – you can’t polish a turd. Anyway, I’m nice and my husband loves me.”

 

HOME BODY

Colman says she navigates media scrutiny by “not really going out”. (The pandemic, she says, has helped with that.)

“But I know I’m not alone. I know many women feel negative things about themselves, and I have got marginally better. I also protect myself by not putting myself in that position as much as possible. I can see my friends whose bodies have changed, or their faces have changed over the years, and I think they’re so f—ing beautiful because they’re amazing people. I can see that just by looking at them and I want to get to that in my own head, but I’m not there yet.”

With that Colman is keen to get back to a lockdown-induced Friends marathon with her son.

“We’re always watching Friends – my younger boy loves it. I love cuddling up with him and watching it because I’m sort of reliving my 20s.”

That’s the good thing about pandemic-era home Zoom interviews – you can pop off to the next room to watch Friends with your kid.

“You can also wear slippers,” Colman continues with another huge laugh, pulling one of her feet up to the camera to reveal some very fancy silver footwear.

“The one thing about doing interviews during the pandemic is that I can wear my slippers. So … silver linings.”

 

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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.

 

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