Born in Norwich, England on 30 January 1974, Sarah Caroline Colman CBE decided to become a professional actor after studying drama at Gresham School and starring in a school production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. She joined the Footlights at Cambridge University, where she met David Mitchell, Robert Webb, and Peter Serafinowicz. Performing as Olivia Colman, she appeared in a few shows before being noticed for her role as Sophie Chapman in Peep Show.
Since then, Olivia Colman has become a highly-prolific performer in both TV and movies (to the point where people joke/complain that she's in everything they see) and is becoming increasingly known outside Britain. She's earned earned several awards, namely a BAFTA TV Best Actress Award for her role in Broadchurch and a BAFTA, Golden Globe and Oscar for playing Queen Anne in The Favourite. After some more high-profile roles, audiences have come to admire her ability to balance comic and extremely serious roles.
Outside the acting world, Olivia Colman supports several charities involved in postpartum depression, domestic violence, sexual abuse, Alzheimer's disease, mental illness, and blood cancer. She has three children with her husband, Ed Sinclair, whom she met at Cambridge University.
Olivia Colman's roles:
- Bruiser in various roles (2000)
- The Office (UK) episode 2.6 as Helena (2002)
- Peep Show as Sophie Chapman (2003-2015) — nominated for British TV Award for Best Comedy Actress
- Green Wing as Harriet Schulenburg (2004-2006)
- That Mitchell and Webb Look in various roles (2006-2008)
- Hot Fuzz as PC Doris Thatcher (2007)
- Hut 33 as Minka (2007-2009)
- Doctor Who as the mother copied by Prisoner Zero in "The Eleventh Hour" (2010)
- Rev as Alex Smallbone (2010) — nominated for BAFTA TV Award for Best Female Comedy Performance
- Arrietty as Homily (2011) — Studio Canal dub; replaced by Amy Poehler for the Disney dub of the Studio Ghibli film
- The Iron Lady as Carol Thatcher (2011)
- Tyrannosaur as Hannah (2011)
- 2012 as Sally Owen (2011-2012) — nominated for BAFTA TV Award for Best Female Comedy Performance
- Accused as Sue (2012) — won BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress
- Hyde Park on Hudson as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (2012)
- Broadchurch as Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (2013-2017) — earned BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress
- The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot as herself (2013)
- The Thirteenth Tale (2013 Adaptation) as Margaret Lea
- Cuban Fury as Sam (2014)
- Thomas & Friends as Marion (2014+) — also voiced Marion in spinoff movies
- The Night Manager as Angela Burr (2016)
- Fleabag as Godmother (2016)
- Flowers (2016) as Deborah Flowers (2016-present)
- Murder on the Orient Express (2017) as Hildegarde Schmidt (2017)
- The Favourite as Queen Anne (2018) — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical, Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
- The Crown (2016) as Queen Elizabeth II (1964-1990), replacing Claire Foy (1947-1963) (2019-2020)
- The Father (2020) as Anne
- The Mitchells vs. the Machines as PAL (voice) (2021)
Tropes applicable to Olivia Colman's career:
- Hide Your Pregnancy: Her character was not pregnant in Broadchurch.
- The Other Darrin: She was replaced by Amy Poehler in the role of Homily when Disney re-dubbed Arrietty.
- Timeshifted Actor: She replaced Claire Foy in The Crown (2016) for Seasons 3 and 4, and will herself be replaced by Imelda Staunton after that.
- Written-In Infirmity: In That Mitchell and Webb Look and The Night Manager, her character was written as pregnant.