Olivia Colman discusses her new role as Carol, an inner-city mum of two violent teens in C4’s tough new four-part drama, Run…

What was it about playing Carol that appealed to you?

“I loved playing Carol as she puzzling and not your normal female heroine. She’s a strong woman trying to keep her family together on her own. She’s got aspirations for her sons Terry and Dean – but she probably didn’t have great role models herself. It’s easy to see how she’s ended up robbing phones to get by. She’s not getting help from any quarter and has been forced to do things I don’t think she wants to. She’s had to be tough thanks to the boys’ violent dad.”

What sets Run apart from other city-based dramas?

“While it is an urban story, there are difficulties everywhere. We just show them with concrete, rather than trees. If you turn the corner in any city, it’s not lovely cafes you see but a life that’s harder. Also, scripts this well written are like hens’ teeth. It’s beautifully written and I knew I’d be heartbroken if I didn’t manage to do a good job of it. Run is one of the things I’m most proud of doing.”

Carol faces a heartbreaking dilemma when sons Terry and Dean violently kill a Polish man. Did you enjoy working with Billy and JJ Pamphilon, who play the boys?

“They’re fantastic. Billy and JJ are actually brothers in real life! Billy has ‘mum’ tattooed on his arm, which is great. We use a photo of them when they were little boys in the characters’ flat. Like Carol, I think my boys are sweethearts! Although Carol is in for a shock.”

You’re very much in the spotlight at the moment with the success of ITV’s Broadchurch and winning BAFTAs for Twenty Twelve and Accused. Do you worry about the rise of your profile?


“It’s quite scary and it does feel different – and not necessarily in a good way. I haven’t quite figured it out yet but a lot of actors I admire manage to stay pretty private, so that’s a skill I’ll have to learn. Obviously you have to do press for jobs, particularly if you’re proud of them. I’m worried people will think: ‘She must be inundated with work, we won’t send her our script’!”

Did you have any idea how big Broadchurch would become?

“I’ve done lots of work before that I loved and hoped people would like but nothing has ever gone as nuts as Broadchurch! I was pleased people liked it but for a while I had to stop getting the bus and trains because I was always being asked ‘who did it?’ I’m really looking forward to working on the second series and can’t wait until the script, which will probably take about a year, is written.”

Does this mean you’re too big and famous for a reappearance as Sophie in cult classic Peep Show?

“God no! I couldn’t do the last one because I was working on Broadchurch but everyone on Peep Show knows I’d happily turn up. They’re my boys!”

You’re known now for both your intense roles and your comedy. How do you feel about these two very different disciplines?

“I feel eternally honoured I’m allowed to do both now. You need someone to take a punt on you and let you do both. I love doing each desperately and am just happy to be working as an actor as I don’t know how to do anything else!”

Run is showing from Monday to Thursday, 15-18 July, at 10pm on Channel 4. The drama follows four very different stories in South London. Harry Potter star Katie Leung plays illegal immigrant Ying, Line of Duty’s Lennie James is homeless heroin addict Richard, while Jaime Winstone portrays stripper Tara. Check out the official trailer here and let us know what you think on Twitter