Currently shooting her new film and unable to travel to Switzerland due to new COVID-19 restrictions, British actress Olivia Colman tuned in live on Saturday to accept her Golden Eye Award at the Zurich Film Festival, taking place physically and celebrating its 16th edition. One of the festival’s most prestigious recognitions, counting the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, Andrew Garfield, Helen Hunt and Kristen Stewart among its past recipients.
“If she were here, I would be probably bowing right now – I would see Queen Anne from ‘The Favourite’ or Queen Elizabeth from ‘The Crown’ in front of me. Indeed, she is nothing less than the current queen of Hollywood,” said artistic director Christian Jungen. “What impressed me the most was the way she expressed the eccentricity and the tragedy of the monarch who has lost 17 children and kept 17 rabbits in her royal apartments. There are several outstanding character actresses, especially from Great Britain, but very few can cover such a wide scope,” he added, mentioning her Oscar-winning turn in Yorgos Lanthimos’ film, as well as her involvement in the fight against domestic violence or discussions about postnatal depression, which she experienced herself.
“Before she decided to be an actress, she wanted to be a primary school teacher, and it was during a school performance that she discovered acting. ‘Give it a year,’ her mother said. ‘I will give it 10,’ she answered. She worked hard to carve out a career. She gave it 10 years, and now her time has come,” he added.
Colman, appearing on the big screen just before the gala premiere of Florian Zeller’s “The Father,” which saw her play alongside Anthony Hopkins, cast as a man battling dementia, seemed thrilled to see the audience, gathered in the actual, albeit social-distanced cinema. “I’m very humbled, and I am thrilled that the film is being shown at a proper cinema. I am really jealous! It’s special – it’s something you can’t recreate at home,” she said, before commenting on the montage of clips that showcased her skills during the ceremony. “It’s funny seeing all these films from when I was much younger, all the way to Queen Anne!”
Encouraged to talk also about her role in “The Father,” Colman started by praising her director, adapting the story from his own acclaimed play. “It is very moving, very beautiful and Florian Zeller is a very, very clever man. For me, it’s always the script – everything is in there. It arrived to my home and I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t want anyone else to play that part!” But some kind words were also directed towards her famous co-star, who – according to the moderator – recently claimed that making this film, and working with Colman, was one of the highlights of his entire career.
“Anthony Hopkins is playing my dad – it doesn’t get any better than this. Tony and I, we are not method. We were just playing off each other and it’s easy to just react to what he is doing. He is exactly what you would hope he will be, he has endless brilliant stories. We were sitting off set once, and he just leaned in and said: ‘Aren’t we lucky? Isn’t life beautiful?’ His kindness to everyone on set is beautiful to behold and something to aspire to.”
The 16th edition of Zurich Film Festival will wrap on Oct. 4.