“It was weirdly enjoyable to do.”
Digital Spy – The Father unintentionally became the most-talked-about movie of this year’s Oscars after Sir Anthony Hopkins surprisingly won Best Actor over Chadwick Boseman, leading to a muted end to the ceremony as Hopkins wasn’t in attendance.
However, it won’t be long into watching The Father that you realise Hopkins deserved every award coming for his sensational performance as a man living with dementia. He steadfastly refuses any help from his daughter Anne, who is planning to move to Paris and needs to ensure her father will be looked after.
Fellow national treasure Olivia Colman takes on the role of Anne and is equally brilliant as a person trying to do her best in an almost impossible situation. Talking to Digital Spy, Colman credits her co-star for making her job “easy” when they’re both dealing with heavy subject material.
“When the camera’s mainly on Tony, I’m standing next to the camera going, ‘Wow’. It was amazing. Lots of people ask what’s it like to meet him, and I was really nervous and terribly excited, but you know within five minutes, he’s just a really, really lovely, generous man,” she reflects.
“So all of that can go and you can really enjoy scenes together. Looking into each others’ eyes, he’s feeling everything which means it easy for me, I just react to him. There were moments where you just go, ‘Oh, he’s really good’. You can’t help but be a little bit aware that you’re working with him, but he’s so adorable [and] lovely.”
The Father – which is finally out in UK cinemas – marks Florian Zeller’s directorial debut with Zeller adapting his own play, Le Père, for the screen, along with co-writer Christopher Hampton.
Hampton has translated all of Zeller’s plays for their English-language runs, and the director enthuses that their “trust and friendship” means that The Father has lost nothing in translation. Hopkins was always in mind for the lead role which was why Zeller chose to do the movie in English, but the idea of Colman as his daughter came later.
“I hadn’t started the process of imagining the rest of the cast because, somehow, somewhere, it seemed unrealistic to me that it will one day happen. As soon as I met Anthony, I started the process of dreaming that maybe it could happen,” Zeller recalls.
“I have always adored Olivia as an actress and I was so excited about this idea that it could be her, so we met just after I met Anthony, and I was so happy that she was open to joining us. I think the film is what it is really thanks to her, and I know that.”
The genius of The Father is that Zeller truly puts you in the point of view of a person living with dementia. Throughout the movie, there are subtle background set changes, characters showing up played by different actors and events don’t always seem to flow chronologically, with moments repeated and seen from different viewpoints.
It’s a disorientating experience that leaves you questioning what you thought you saw or knew, and it’s extremely effective as even if you wanted to put things in order, you won’t be able to – much like Hopkins’s character in the movie.
Despite the unique approach to the movie, Colman didn’t need to have her own timeline of events to make it work.
“What was great that we didn’t need to. Particularly, Tony didn’t need to check where he was because the confusion was all a part of it. I just had to turn up and play the scene and knew that it was Florian’s job to put it all together,” she explains.
Colman adds with a laugh: “Maybe I should have done that, but I didn’t do that. Thanks for bringing it up now.”
At times, The Father fills you with a sense of unease that even the best horrors can’t match, and it just adds to the emotional impact of the movie. This is not a movie for an easy Friday night watch, it’s tough and devastating and will linger with you long after the credits have rolled.
Without going into spoilers, the finale is truly heartbreaking to watch and highlights the power of Hopkins’s performance. Colman was just glad she wasn’t on set the day it was filmed – co-star Olivia Williams shares that scene with Hopkins – as if it’s this hard to watch, imagine how affecting it’d be to watch it play out over several takes.
“I’m pleased that was Olivia Williams because she’s much braver than me. I don’t think I’d have coped with that at all,” she notes, although Colman is involved in some tough scenes too that she was kind of “excited” to film them.
“It was always an honour to do it. Hard and upsetting. The upset is real, but it’s hard to describe it. It’s real, but we know also that we’re regurgitating an upset… I don’t know how to describe it, I’ve never been good at talking about acting,” she concludes.
“It was weirdly enjoyable to do.”
Vanity Fair Italia– She is world-famous for her role as The Queen in The Crown, however, she hopes that the Queen herself doesn’t watch The Crown.
Playing a “bourgeois” role, Olivia Colman admits that fame is a bit of a burden and that the
the only place she feels comfortable in is her home.
The night she won her Oscar, Olivia Colman ended up on stage without having any kind of draft of speech whatsoever, and so, when they handed her the statue, she took a deep breath, her emotions a mixture of laughter and tears, and said the only thing that came to her mind at that moment: “It’s genuinely stressful.”Laughters, applause… Then, in a speech that seemed like a brilliant number of stand-up comedy, Olivia – very English when it comes to underestimating herself as well as to humour – continued to make people laugh; at one point she even apologised to Glenn Close for winning instead of her, then she looked back at the time she used to clean for a living, and finally sent a message to the aspiring young actresses in the audience: “Any little girl who is practising their speech on telly, you never know” Her speech ended with a standing ovation.
The film for which she won was Yorgos Lanthimos’ Favourite, the amazing interpretation of Queen Anne. It’s been two years since that night, and Olivia Colman has remained the same down-to-earth actress that is instantly taken into consideration when it comes to playing British monarchs. Best known she is for her performance as Queen Elizabeth II, the most famous monarch in the world – the condensation of strength, seriousness and self-denial.
Her new film “The Father”, a film for which Anthony Hopkins won his second Oscar, has been out in theatres for a few days now. In the film, Olivia Colman plays Hopkin’s daughter, a woman who watches her father lose himself to dementia. Everything is narrated from the painful and unsettling point of view of the elderly man. Therefore, the viewer is put in the shoes of those who experience the disease firsthand. “I’ve never read such a script before: usually it’s the family’s experience that is described, here it is as if you were inside Anthony Hopkin’s head”, Colman describes through Zoom, sitting in her living room in London.
Anthony Hopkins said he didn’t want any other actresses to play his daughter.Did he really say that?
Olivia Colman: Oh, he just wanted to be nice.
We also see the esteem.
OC: Sure, but Anthony is also a sweet and kind man, he would have said that of any other actress. What I can say is that it has been a constant delight to get to wake up every morning and work with him on set. However, eventually, you come to realize that at the end of the day we are all just human beings.
What did you learn from him?
OC: I was struck by his joyful attitude towards life, his determination to enjoy it despite the bad things that have happened to him. It’s as if he was saying “I’m still here and I want to be fine.” That is not a very common mindset for seniors so it was a great lesson.
Do you share your way of dealing with life?
OC: In some ways yes, I also want to be very aware of how lucky I am, and I know who are the people I love and I love to be with. I don’t like parties or confusion. I love staying home.
So you haven’t suffered from the lockdowns?
OC: I am one of the few very happy people. I don’t even notice whether the pubs are open or closed.
And are you shy?
OC: Yes, I feel uncomfortable in large groups. I’m comfortable around my family.
Have you always been like that?
OC: No, but I have had to become that. You know, it’s not easy to walk into a room where everyone knows you but you don’t know anyone, the feeling is alienating.
So is fame hard to cope with?
OC: It is not easy to explain, but it is certainly something that no one wants to actually live with, and if someone says they would, they have no idea what it is like. It’s the downside of the job that I so very much love.
Can we say that you are an anti diva?
OC: I’m an actress and that’s it.
Your speech at the Oscars made everyone laugh.
OC: Oh my, I don’t even remember it anymore… But I can tell you that morning my husband and I got up and said to each other: we both know it’s not going to happen so let’s enjoy the evening, it happens once in a lifetime. Then my husband told me: however if you ever win… remember to thank all the fans. And him. So I did it.
How many times had you dreamed of that moment?
OC: So many, while cleaning, I would every now and then imagine and recite my Oscar speech. I think everyone has done it at least once, right?
How has your past influenced your ambitions and approach to work?
OC: I am grateful that I was not successful at a young age because it has really made me appreciate working today. This craft is very uncertain and there are so many actors unemployed. These are things to keep in mind when your life changes.
Your life changes but it always lead you to play queens…
OC: But it’s a coincidence!
A strange fact: you always say you are not a big fan of the monarchy.
OC: True, but I respect the Queen very much, she does what she has to do with dignity, other people in her position would not have behaved like her. Nonetheless, it is a job I wouldn’t want.
What do you mean by that?
OC: Being the queen is not a job you choose. You just have to do it. I, on the other hand, need to choose.
When did you choose to become an actress?
OC: At 16, during my first theatrical performance. But I didn’t tell anyone because I wasn’t sure I could do it.
And when did you discover that you have a talent?
OC: I am very fortunate and always try to improve myself.
Lucky but also talented: do you not recognise it?
OC: It sounds so bad coming from your own mouth. Laughs
Do you think the queen is watching The Crown?
OC: I hope not.
OC: Because she must think it is all wrong: the ways of doing things, the private conversations and relationships. The Crown is fiction and seeing yourself in a TV series must be something that makes you very angry.
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.
Esquire Middle East- Olivia Colman knows what she’s doing. Even when she doesn’t, she does.
“I think just time passing gives me a bit more, you know, confidence,” Colman tells Esquire Middle East.
The English actress, 47, has in the last decade gone from one of the most underappreciated talents in the world to one of the most universally beloved, collecting an Academy Award for Best Actress, four BAFTAs, three Golden Globes and a Screen Actors Guild award.
On top of that, she’s nominated for another Academy Award this year, too—for her role in Florian Zeller’s The Father, opposite fellow nominee Anthony Hopkins.
Colman is one of the rare individuals who, no matter how many accolades you bestow upon them, never seems to be changed by it all in the slightest. Talking to us over Zoom, she’s as genial and open-hearted as ever, someone who you can’t talk to without feeling like you’ve made a new friend.
The secret to her success—and her unbridled warmth and aforementioned confidence—is in her acceptance that you don’t need to be perfect to be great.
“I know what I’m doing now. Well, you never get to the point where you really feel like you know what you’re doing. But I trust myself, all because I know I can make mistakes. I think that helps. I trust that if I make a mistake, it doesn’t matter,” says Colman.
The actress, who famously has no process in how she gets into characters, performed nearly automatically opposite Hopkins in the Father, a harrowing portrayal of one man’s failing mind and the daughter he’s relying on to cling to man he once was, and can’t accept he no longer is.
The two worked without rehearsals, sparring back and forth in one or two takes and then laughing off the screen. All of this was enabled by a first-time filmmaker in Zeller who trusted his actors and allowed them the space to create without the preciousness or stress that often comes with inexperience.
That, to Colman, was everything.
“I think it’s so important to feel safe and secure. Anyone who tries to sort of break you down and make you feel absolute nonsense. If you feel safe and secure, and you trust everyone around you, you can go anywhere with any amount of emotion,” Colman says.
“If you get someone who’s an a**hole, you don’t want to be nice. You don’t want to do good work for them.”
Rufus Sewell, who plays Colman’s increasingly less-patient husband, took to the vibe that Zeller, Colman and Hopkins had created on set immediately.
“I’m not a particularly serious person. When people meet me, they’re often surprised because I always get cast as these dour, humourless tw*ts,” says Sewell.
Colman brought out the silly in Sewell like few had before.
“It was very fun, easy, and especially silly. There was a lot of silliness. With me and Olivia, I felt like that we were going to be separated. That was the joy of it. I looked forward to each day,” says Sewell.
Colman, Sewell and Hopkins would eat together each day, getting a laugh out of one another hours on end.
“There were no dressing rooms or trailers. Most of the time we were in the same makeup room telling stories and jokes and, you know, farting around. For me, it was a wonderful discovery that my favourite actors work the same way I do,” says Sewell.
At the end of the day, of course, what matters most is the work itself, and in The Father, the crew has turned in a masterpiece—a wholly unique, horrifying and tightly-wound drama that deserves every one of the six Academy Awards its nominated for, including Best Picture.
The specialness of The Father, of course, is not lost on any of them, least of all Colman herself.
“I know that I had no problem getting out of bed every morning. No, I was excited to go to work. I thought I’m part of something really beautiful and I’m working with lovely people. I love my work. I love working. I love going to work. But every now and then you get one that’s really special, and this felt special. I’ll be eternally grateful to Florian for writing it and letting me be in it and letting me act opposite Anthony Hopkins. I can die happy now that that’s happened,” says Colman.
check out our gallery for stills and on-set photos and more from THE FATHER