Olivia Williams: ‘I’ve been close enough to stardom to see how horrifying it is’

As she prepares to star in The Nevers, an eerie TV drama about supernatural Victorian women, the actor talks about fame, cancer – and squaring up to Bruce Willis in The Sixth SenseWhat I wouldn’t have given to be in an actual room with Olivia Williams, rather than down a Zoom.

For all her early-90s RSC pedigree, she is forever the surprise find of The Postman, Rushmore and The Sixth Sense, films in which her casting seemed so idiosyncratic.How did this British actor, with her amused detachment and her totally rose-garden, tan-resistant complexion, end up in Hollywood? I always saw her as an ambassador for the nation, roaming around the end of last century, giving the world the impression that we were all incredibly graceful and surprisingly tall.

She, conversely, maintains that she only ever got those parts because they’d blown the budget on their male lead and needed someone cheap.

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