Olivia Colman ‘terrified’ by ‘playing a woman my age having an affair with a younger man’ in new film

Olivia Colman felt “terrified” when she learned she’d be filming initiate scenes with Top Boy star Micheal Ward – a man half her age – in new movie Empire of Light.

The 48 year old, who plays a downtrodden cinema worker in the film, explained how her 25 year old co-star was much “more mature” than she was.

Speaking about the moment she laid hands on the script, Olivia said: “This was something I found a little bit scary, which was exciting to me. Playing a woman of my age who’s having a love affair with a younger man, that’s the most terrifying part of the whole film for me.

“But then I met Micheal [who plays Olivia’s young lover, Stephen] and he made me feel much more at ease. Micheal was much more mature about it than I was!”

In fact, Olivia tells us that working with the actor was one of the highlights of making the movie, even if her emotionally fragile character was at her wits’ end during one scene.

“I really loved the breakdown scene in Hilary’s flat with Stephen,” she says. “We filmed that twice, actually, but I’m so grateful to Sam for letting us do it a second time because I felt the second time I had no barriers and I just let rip. I loved that. I love those two.”

Mum of three Olivia, who turns 49 later this month, has already received critical acclaim for her heartbreaking role in Empire Of Light, which was directed by another Oscar-winner, fellow Brit Sam Mendes.

The actress stars as Hilary Small, a lonely duty manager at a coastal cinema in the 80s. As well as battling mental illness, Hilary is having an affair with not one but two men – her boss, Mr Ellis [Colin Firth], and new colleague Stephen, played by Micheal.

With so much talent involved, it’s no wonder The Crown star was immediately on board when offered the chance to play complex Hilary.

She revealed: “I said yes before I’d even seen the script. I can’t imagine many actors, when they speak to Sam Mendes on a Zoom in their kitchen, going, ‘Ah, nah. I’m not that interested.’ So I said yes.”

This year is already gearing up to be a busy one for Oscar-winning Olivia. In addition to Empire Of Light, she’ll be reprising her role as Nick Nelson’s supportive mum, Sarah, in the Netflix smash Heartstopper.

She also voices Mama Bear in the forthcoming DreamWorks animation Puss In Boots: The Last Wish, due in February, while later in the year she’ll star opposite heart-throb Timothée Chalamet in the Charlie And The Chocolate Factory prequel, Wonka.

Empire Of Light is released on 13 January

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