MiNDFOOD chats with Olivia Colman on her new film ‘Wicked Little Letters’

By Gill Canning

MiNDFOOD chats with Olivia Colman on her new film ‘Wicked Little Letters’
MiNDFOOD sat down for a chat with the delightful Olivia Colman about her new black comedy, Wicked Little Letters.

It’s the true story of Englishwoman, Edith Swan (Colman), who was the victim of vulgar ‘poison pen’ letters in her hometown of Littlehampton in the 1920s. Rose Gooding, the free-spirited, single mother living next door to Edith was charged with the crime and sent to prison.

MiNDFOOD: Tell me about the character of Edith.

Olivia Colman: Edith is a pious, Christian, well-behaved, ‘do everything right’ woman. She’s unmarried and still lives under the thumb of her father. She has no agency and no power, which was the case of most women in that period…and sadly, many people worldwide still now. She’s oppressed – and it has to come out somewhere.

Did you do a lot of research for the film?

I’m not really a big research girl. I loved the fact that I didn’t know about this story so when I read the script, I sort of went “Wait. What?!” The case was debated in Parliament and was in all the broadsheet papers at the time.


There is a LOT of swearing in this film – much of it funny. Were the letters in the film the authentic letters written and did you or Jessie Buckley ad-lib any of the swearing you did?

Eighty-five per cent of the swearing in the film comes from the actual letters. We didn’t ever ad lib as the letters were so good, we couldn’t better them.

What attracted you to the role?

The script was so funny when I read it! And the chance to play opposite one of my best friends, Jessie Buckley as Rose Gooding. When I first read the script, I thought, “Oh my god, Jessie would be amazing as Rose.”


Some of the period costumes were beautiful – how was it wearing them?

As Edith, I had to wear the proper old-fashioned corsets and those stockings that were the proper old, thick ones with no elastic. We filmed in summer and it was really uncomfortable. Rose is a character who is unrestricted, so Jessie got to wear loose, floaty clothes. I was quite jealous of her costumes.

Was it difficult to play Edith’s character as she transitioned from a pious, superior woman into someone to be pitied?

No, that’s the joy – as an actor, you want to play a part with range. All human beings are complicated, there’s not one person who’s ‘one note’. So that was great fun.

Edith and Rose were friendly at the beginning of the film – how did that work?

You could see in their friendship that they ‘saw’ and understood each other. Rose had escaped repression but Edith couldn’t. She couldn’t work out how to. If only they’d run off together and got a nice commune full of lovely women and kind men! That would have  been great.


You made The Lost Daughter with Jessie Buckley in 2021. Any plans to work again with her?

Maybe we should do a musical version on stage of Wicked Little Letters! Jessie is an amazing singer. I can do a quiet folk song but Jessie has proper pipes. We’ll get her to do all the singing.


Wicked Little Letters is released in cinemas 21 March 2024.

Trailer: Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley reunite in sweary ‘Wicked Little Letters’


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