Olivia Colman hesitated to star in the new adaptation of Great Expectations, with fellow actors such as Gillian Anderson and Helena Bonham Carter in the back of her mind.
Miss Havisham, a character first created by Charles Dickens in his 1861 novel, has been played by multiple thespians over the years, from Charlotte Rampling to Jean Simmons, Joan Hickson and Margaret Leighton.
Sex Education star Gillian took on the role for a three-part drama in 2011, while The Crown’s Helena played the part a year later.
With that in mind, it was a daunting prospect for Olivia to become the next in line for the wealthy, jilted would-be bride, as she confessed she ‘struggled’ with the notion of being compared to Gillian and Helena, both of whom she’s friends with.
‘I really did struggle with the idea of being compared with my mates,’ she told BBC News.
‘I did want to play [Miss Havisham] so I thought, “Well, it’s what happens with all actors. You all end up playing the same parts sometimes, and that’s okay.” So hopefully Gillian and Helly don’t think I’m doing a terrible job of this!’
Olivia said that it was ‘so much fun’ to play Miss Havisham, having previously depicted characters such as Queen Anne in The Favourite, Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown and Angela Burr in The Night Manager.
Addressing the devastation Miss Havisham experiences in the story of Great Expectations when she’s left at the altar by her partner, the actor said that she ‘understands’ the upset.
‘But I don’t really understand how she’s managed to keep it going for so long,’ she added, as Miss Havisham dwells in her heartbreak for years.
The 49-year-old quipped that if Miss Havisham ‘had a therapist or a really good friend to chat to’, she might have been in a ‘better place’.
Olivia will star in the new adaptation by Steven Knight opposite Fionn Whitehead as Pip and Shalom Brune-Franklin as Estella.
First appear at Olivia Colman was reluctant to star in Great Expectations because of Gillian Anderson