Olivia Colman on Becoming an Actor: “I just wasn’t very good at anything else”


For some, Olivia Colman winning the Academy Award for Best Actress earlier this year was a surprise because she certainly isn’t as well know among casual viewers as some of the year’s other nominees, including Glenn Close, Melissa McCarthy, or Lady Gaga. For others, the honor was no surprise — Colman is a veteran of numerous British television series as well as acclaimed films like Hot Fuzz and The Lobster. In a revealing interview with the Sunday Post, Colman spoke about her early years before becoming an actress and what set her on the path to success.

Like many other actors, Colman came from modest means before building an impressive career as a thespian, including her early work with comedy duo, Mitchell and Webb. She reveals, “I was a cleaning lady back in my college days before I met Mitchell and Webb, which was my first break as an actress. I had dropped out of teacher training and I was cleaning just to earn a little money. I know people usually say how much they hated their first job but I actually loved mine. I love cleaning skirting boards and things like that. It was pure job satisfaction. I could be doing that now had it not been for all this.”

As to why she gravitated toward acting, she admits that she felt it was the only thing she felt motivated to do as a teenager. She says, “I just wasn’t very good at anything else. I was rubbish at school. I wasn’t academic. I wasn’t very good at anything actually. Then at 16, I did a school play and I went, ‘Oh, I love this!’ I didn’t know you could be an actor. My mum is a nurse. No one I knew had ever done anything like that.”

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