Colman plays Waller-Bridge’s passive-aggressive stepmother in Fleabag – and the Killing Eve creator was as delighted as the rest of us to see Colman take home an Academy Award.
Sophie in Peep Show, DS Ellie Miller in Broadchurch, Angela Burr in The Night Manager: Olivia Colman might only have broken Hollywood with her starring (and now Oscar-winning) role in The Favourite, but she’s been a key player in some of the UK’s most beloved TV shows for over 15 years.
And while we adore all of Colman’s performances, one of our favourites has to be her deliciously passive-aggressive turn as Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s godmother/stepmother in Fleabag. Waller-Bridge, the creator of Fleabag and Killing Eve, has been friends with Colman for several years – and she felt as overjoyed as the rest of us to see her take home an Academy Award on Sunday night.
“Oh my god. I’ve literally never screamed so much at a TV,” Waller-Bridge told Entertainment Weekly. “And her speech! Everything about that woman. Everything about her. She’s classic.”
Colman came across as almost impossibly endearing in her Oscars acceptance speech, blowing a raspberry at producers when they tried to hurry her off the stage and exclaiming, “This is genuinely quite stressful. This is hilarious. I got an Oscar!”
But while the real Colman may be self-deprecating and warm, she can turn her hand to all kinds of characters – from Fleabag’s sweetly nightmarish stepmother to the imperious, unpredictable queen in The Favourite.
“She’s extraordinary,” said Waller-Bridge simply. “She really can do anything. She’s the most versatile actor I’ve ever come across.”
Colman and Waller-Bridge first met on the set of the 2011 film The Iron Lady, in which Colman played Margaret Thatcher’s daughter Carol and the younger actor had a small supporting role. Fleabag’s producer Lydia Hampson has explained that Colman – who clearly has an eye for the stars of the future – asked Waller-Bridge to write her into one of her projects.
“Olivia had said to Phoebe, ‘If you ever write anything please tell me, I’d love to be in it,’” Hampson told Radio Times in 2017.
“Phoebe told me that and I was like, ‘Oh my god! What could she be?’ In the original play version [of Fleabag] the godmother is literally just a presence at the top of the stairs, she doesn’t have any words, she’s not in it at all.
“So Phoebe kind of wrote up this idea of a godmother character that has a much larger role and Olivia, I believe, had said, ‘I’d love to play a real bitch.’ And so Phoebe was like, ‘I’ve got it!’”
The second series of Fleabag, which starts on BBC Three on Monday 4 March, will see Colman being as awful as ever (a trailer for season two shows her asking Fleabag brightly, “You alright? You look horrendous!”).
And Waller-Bridge has confirmed that there definitely won’t be a third series of the award-winning show – so this is your last chance to revel in its black comedy. Find out everything you need to know about the final season here.
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