Hollywood Flashback: 'The Crown' Star Olivia Colman First Honed Her Royal Chops in 2012's 'Hyde Park on Hudson'

Hyde Park on Hudson -Photofest Still - H 2019
Focus Features/Photofest

The actress is the only person to have played both Queen Elizabeth II and her mother, Queen Elizabeth.

The British royal family has been unusually generous to Olivia Colman in providing roles. Playing the 18th century's Queen Anne in 2018's The Favourite brought Colman, 45, an Oscar for best actress. And she's the only actor to have played both Queen Elizabeth II, which she's doing now on Netflix's The Crown, and that royal's mother, Queen Elizabeth, which she did in 2012's Hyde Park on Hudson

Prior to these film roles, Colman was probably best known in the U.K. for appearing on sitcoms. She gained attention in 2003 as the Sophie Chapman character in the comedy series Peep Show, created by Succession mastermind Jesse Armstrong. American audiences probably know her comedy work from Amazon's Fleabag, where she portrayed the just-evil-enough stepmother. With Hudson, she co-starred in a Focus Features release that featured the offbeat casting of Bill Murray as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The Hollywood Reporter said the choice "takes a few minutes to get used to, but once he settles into the role of the 32nd president, the idiosyncratic comic actor does a wonderfully jaunty job." As for Colman, THR said she played Queen Elizabeth as "a disapproving prune horrified by the presence of hot dogs on the menu at a picnic." The frankfurters were an important plot point.

In 1939, Roosevelt was trying to develop popular support for aiding the British in the looming world war, and presenting the king as a "regular guy" who ate hot dogs was part of his plan. "In the correspondence that went between the White House and the British Foreign Office," says David Woolner, a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, "the president says he wanted to show the American people the royals' 'essential democracy.' " 

This story first appeared in a November stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.