Olivia, the name, is a beautiful one. There’s a timeless strength and regal grace to the word. The Latin roots of it mean literally ‘Olive branch’. It was first popularized by Shakespeare himself in ‘Twelfth Night’. The English derivation is the feminine form of ‘Oliver’ which basically translates into ‘elf army.’ That’s right. Elf army.
So which Olivia would you choose to lead your elf army?
Perhaps your tastes stretch all the way to 101-year old Olivia de Havilland. She’s still alive and kicking and living in the City of Lights. She recently sued FX over her portrayal in Ryan Murphy’s ‘Feud.’ Her concern mostly revolves around her character’s (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones) use of the word ‘bitch’ on the show - a word she says she would never have used.
There’s also Olivia Hussey, the face that launched a thousand ships and a solid generation of High School English classes.
Newer to the party is Olivia Cooke, who exploded onto the scene in 2015 with a brilliant performance in ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.’
Since then we’ve seen her primarily on the TV show ‘Bates Motel,’ but she won the highly coveted role of Art3mis in the upcoming ‘Ready Player One.’
There’s Olivia Munn, from ‘Magic Mike’ and ‘The Newsroom’. Emily turned me on to this scene from the latter which was so well done that I’m actually wondering if I should give that Sorkin show one more try.
Olivia Wilde has the kind of preternatural alien beauty that might have bumped her to the A list actress category by now. Her slate is eclectic, from ‘The OC’ to mumblecore ‘Drinking Buddies’ to films like ‘Cowboys vs Aliens’ and ‘Alpha Dog’ and ‘The Incredible Burt Wonderstone’. She’s done ‘House’ and ‘Robot Chicken’ and ‘BoJack Horseman’ and ‘Portlandia’ and ‘Vinyl’. With all of that, she still feels so difficult to categorize. That may be a really good thing, ultimately. She has a certain je ne sais quoi to her that’s really interesting. And Knava loves her, which is good enough for me.
I fully expected Olivia Thirlby to be one of the most sought-after actresses in the world by now. She hit back to back home runs with ‘Juno’ and ‘The Wackness’ and I thought we’d see so much more of her after ‘Bored to Death’ and ‘Dredd’. (I never watched ‘Goliath’ or ‘The Wedding Ringer’ or ‘Chappaquiddick’ so that may be part of it.) Whatever the proverbial It-Girl “it” is: she’s got it. I hope we get to see more and more of her in the future.
There was this moment around the turn of the century where Olivia Williams was on the precipice of being the next big thing. She had both ‘Rushmore’ (1998) and ‘The Sixth Sense’ (1999) in the can and the world was her oyster. And then it felt like she vanished. Her IMDB page shows she’s been working since then, but in what appears to be a string of made-for-TV movies and other less extravagant fare. So it was doubly refreshing to see just how good she is in Starz’ “The Counterpart’. She’s a skilled actress, and deserving of juicier roles.
And then there’s Olivia Colman. Everything she touches turns to gold, from the madcap ‘Hot Fuzz’…
To more serious turns of jaw-dropping talent, like in ‘Broadchurch’
and ‘The Night Manager’.
She’s so so so talented. I’m looking forward to seeing her as Queen Elizabeth II on ‘The Crown’.
So that’s your list, friends. Now it’s up to you.
Olivia is the name of at least three hugely popular characters. They won’t be in the running for best Olivia, but they deserve an honorable mention. There’s Mariska Hargitay’s ‘Law & Order’ character Lt. Olivia Benson.
There’s Olivia Walton, the no-nonsense mother of seven children on TV’s ‘The Waltons’ played by Michael Learned and Patricia Neal.
You also have Anna Torv’s ‘Fringe’ character(s) Olivia Dunham and Fauxlivia.
And of course, there’s Kerry Washington’s unflappable Olivia Pope from ‘Scandal’.
So who gets your vote?
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