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Olivia Colman is your new Miss Havisham.

Dan Sheehan

February 6, 2023, 12:02pm

Down your blacksmith tools and shake the moths out of your wedding dress, because Olivia Colman (The Favorite, The Father) and Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders, Spencer) are bringing Big Dickens Energy back to our TV screens.

Great Expectations—an upcoming BBC/FX period drama miniseries based on Charles Dickens’ 1861 bildungsroman in which a orphan named Pip who longs to improve his lot in life is introduced to the wealthy-but-eccentric spinster Miss Havisham, her beautiful-but-cold adopted daughter Estella, and a mysterious escaped convict turned benefactor named Magwitch—is Knight’s second foray into Dickens adaptation territory (after 2019’s A Christmas Carol) and will be available to steam on Hulu in the spring.

Until then, we’ll have to content ourselves with this extremely brief teaser trailer, in which Colman’s Miss Havisham greets Pip (Fionn Whitehead) with a ghoulish grin and the line, “What a prized creature we have fished from the river.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Olivia Coleman isn’t even 50. She’s far too young to play that decrepit old crone. Well, to that I would say, educate yourself. As our own Olivia Rutigliano detailed a few years back, Dickens’ most famous shut-in is actually no more than 40 years old. That’s the same age as Tessa Thompson, Emily Blunt, Mila Kunis, Kate Mara, and Lupita Nyong’o. Embittered old fossil Miss Havisham is, in fact, four years younger than Shakira, 13 years younger than Jennifer Lopez, 16 years younger than Halle Berry, and 18 years younger than Sandra Bullock.

To be fair, Colman isn’t the first still-young actress to mummify herself in powder and lace in order to capture the ancient essence of poor Miss H. Gillian Anderson was 43 when she played the part in back in 2011, and Helena Bonham Carter was 45 when she donned the veil that same year. To date, however, nobody has had the courage to cast a sprightly 39-year-old in the role.

Here’s hoping for a flood of Millennial Miss Havishams in the years ahead.

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