Olivia Colman was as shocked as anyone else when she learnt she had beaten the Hollywood favourite Glenn Close to win the Oscar for best actress.
She held back tears as she went up to receive the award at the glitzy ceremony in Los Angeles, describing it as ‘genuinely quite stressful’ before adding: ‘This is hilarious – I’ve got an Oscar!’
In her moving acceptance speech, she went on to apologetically address Close, saying: ‘This is not how I wanted it to be. And I think you’re amazing and I love you very much.’
Voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had spoken of their desire to honour Close for her role in The Wife because she had never won an Oscar, while at the same time recognising Colman’s superior performance in The Favourite.
One expressed the hope of a rare tie, as when Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand shared the best actress title in 1969 for The Lion In Winter and Funny Girl respectively.
Olivia Colman held back tears as she went up to receive the award at the glitzy ceremony in Los Angeles
But it was not be – the big title was Colman’s alone.
Later, talking to the Daily Mail at the Academy Awards Governors Ball, the official after party, she revealed she was ‘gagging’ for a cup of tea, saying ‘it will calm me down, relax me a little’.
Sadly, tea was not on offer and the actress had to settle for champagne.
‘I suppose this will have to do,’ she said as a waiter poured her a flute of chilled Piper-Heidsieck.
Sitting at her table in the ballroom of the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday night, she told a friend who stopped by her that she was having ‘an out-of-body experience’.
She added: ‘I didn’t expect to win and every time I open my mouth I think I’m going to cry.’
Her husband Ed Sinclair, sitting opposite, said: ‘It’s very hard to compute. The realisation of her achievement hasn’t sunk in. Of course she knows that she has won the Oscar but at the same time she can’t believe it.’
He added: ‘It’s going to come out in little drops of realisation, one little drop at a time.
‘It’s a childhood dream for her. She watched the Oscars on TV when she was growing up and you start thinking about it when you are an actor.
‘It’s on your radar. It’s not the reason you do it – you don’t act just to hope that one day you will win an Oscar.
Olivia Colman is embraced by her husband and Emma Stone after her Best Actress win was announced
‘But sometimes you dream about it and she has dreamt about it.’
Her win was hailed as a highlight of the 91st Academy Awards. ‘She is the queen of Hollywood in more than one sense,’ observed Ceci Dempsey, a lead producer of The Favourite, in which Colman plays Queen Anne.
Daniel Battsek, director of Film4, one of the main financiers of the film, which also starred Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, added: ‘There hasn’t been a win of this magnitude in decades.’
Colman’s three children, aged 13, 11 and three, were in Los Angeles watching the broadcast at the house the actress had borrowed from her Hollywood agent.
In her acceptance speech – in which she blew a raspberry and flicked a small V-sign when told to hurry up and get off stage – she told her children ‘I sort of hope you are watching because this is not going to happen again’.
Her speech was hailed as one of the evening’s most memorable, with Dame Helen Mirren hailing it as coming ‘straight from the heart’.
Colman had said: ‘Any little girl who is practising their speech on the telly, you never know.
‘And when I used to work as a cleaner, and I loved that job, I did spend quite a lot of my time imagining this.’
Colman had said: ‘Any little girl who is practising their speech on the telly, you never know’
The comic timing she employed on the likes of Peep Show and Fleabag came in handy when a message flashed on a monitor in front of her, ‘Oh, please wrap up. Right, okay ,’ as she blew a raspberry that echoed around the auditorium.
Once she had stopped by the Governors Ball she went and changed: ‘I have been wanting to change out of my lovely gown. I’ve been sitting in it all night,’ she said as I walked with her to the doors of the ballroom.
Her face lit up at the prospect of going to the Vanity Fair party.
And once the parties were over, the statuette was going ‘in bed with me, between me and my husband – he doesn’t know yet’.
They plan to stay on in Los Angeles with their three children for a few more days before returning home.
They will take another family break over Easter and Colman is considering a small film project before filming the fourth series of The Crown for Netflix, where she portrays our present queen.
She’s already in high demand in the UK. Hollywood studio chiefs will know want to offer her lucrative roles.
‘I’ve never had the desire to do the empty, frothy big films. If the writing is good and the director is good, or an auteur like Yorgos Lanthimos who directed The Favourite, then you have my interest .
‘I don’t mind if rabbits wee on me like they did in The Favourite . We can always clean that up . But we can’t always find the good roles.’