Thursday, 18 April 2019

Olivia Colman – A Venus-Uranus Story

At the Golden Globes on January 7, British ‘national treasure’ actress Olivia Colman, picked up the Best Actress in a Comedy award for her portrayal of the early 18th Century reign of Britain’s Queen Anne in The Favourite. Whilst this is her second Golden Globe1 this win sees her poised to become a major Hollywood star. 
However, Aquarius also needs to express its own uniqueness and Colman comes across both in interviews and in roles as one of a kind. A profile in the New York Times4 described her as the most “ordinary extraordinary person you have ever met,” which reminds us that despite the Aquarian idea of ordinariness and equality, Leo, sign of the special and the extraordinary is at the opposite end of the Aquarius axis. This invites Aquarius to find a unique and singular identity, to shine, whilst still remaining a part of the collective dynamic. In her Golden Globe acceptance speech Colman uses her time in the Leonine spotlight to credit her collaborators – affectionately calling them her ‘bitches’ - and to thank the organisers for the sandwiches – as only an Aquarius would do! By Secondary Progression, her retrograde Venus turned direct in late 1987 and progressed to Conjunct its natal position in June 2002 when she was 28, coinciding with her Saturn return. Two major events bookend these measurements. In 2001 she got married and in 2003 she appeared in cult sitcom Peep Show. Her supporting role as a reluctant romantic interest to David Mitchell’s character got her the attention she needed to land further roles in the comedy genre. 2003 also saw Solar Arc (SA) Venus at 29 degrees Aquarius, having moved 30 degrees around her chart and, echoing her natal Venus-Uranus connection because transiting Uranus was Conjunct SA Venus!

The Favourite is set against a background of war but focuses on life in the ailing and grieving Queen’s court, in particular on her close relationships with the two women who competed for her love and the power that came with it. Rachel Weisz plays Lady Sarah, the Queen’s confidante and lover at the start of the film, but who [spoiler alert] is eventually usurped by her down on her luck cousin Abigail (Emma Stone), who, ambitious to return to her former aristocratic status, inveigles her way into the Queen’s trust and into her bed.

Colman’s portrayal of Anne is all at once beguiling, repulsive, beautiful, absurd, upsetting, darkly funny and incredibly poignant and terrific performances from her supporting actresses make for a compelling and tragicomic triangle.

Born on 30 January 1974 in Norwich UK2, Colman has Sun, Mercury and Jupiter in Aquarius. The Sun and Jupiter are squared by Mars in Taurus and Mercury and Jupiter form an Air Grand Trine with Saturn and South Node in Gemini and Uranus in Libra. Uranus also features in the chart’s tightest Square to an intense Venus at 29 degrees of Capricorn.

For all its reputation for quirkiness and individuality (which comes out in Colman’s performances), at heart Aquarius is also the sign of the ordinary common folk. David Mitchell, her co-star in Peep Show, the long running sitcom which gave Colman her breakthrough role, describes her as “normal and nice”3 and she herself often refers to how “ordinary” she is in interviews.

The Sun and Jupiter at 10 degrees and 21 degrees respectively are shy of a Conjunction but a Square from Mars at 15 Taurus forms a midpoint picture, pulling the Sun and Jupiter together. Mars at the midpoint of Sun and Jupiter has been described as “successful application of willpower; zeal; enthusiasm that catches on”.5 But the Square to Sun and Jupiter from Mars brings challenges, suggesting that the path towards personal growth and fulfilment of life purpose is strewn with frustrations which demand action and resolution for progress to be made. And indeed, her ‘overnight success’ has been almost 20 years in the making.

This aspect is complicated by both Sun and Mars in the sign of their detriment. It’s an oft overlooked truth that every individual success story is due in often large part to the help of others or is the result of a team effort. It is the challenge of Sun in Aquarius to express an individual identity whilst also being part of a group identity. It’s also to be remembered that although acting throws up many individual ‘stars’, it is in fact a group activity, as each individual performance owes much to the chemistry and ability of the other actors as well as to the quality of the script, production and direction.  In fact, Colman’s co-actors are quick to describe her as a team player and in The Favourite it is the chemistry between herself and co-stars Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz that makes her performance such a brilliant one. And this wasn’t by chance, Director Yorgos Lanthimos gave the actors three weeks of rehearsals to bond and not only does this show on screen it has led to off screen friendships6.

Mars in Taurus can bring pressure and frustration around taking action, self-assertion and following one’s desires and the antidote is to find a reliable, practical and grounded course of action. Staying power is of course one of the advantages of Mars in Taurus, with a talent for maintaining and building on wins and successes which in the long term is perhaps more valuable than the quick wins possible with Mars in the more ‘quick off the mark’ signs. That Jupiter at 21 Aquarius is in its Term7 perhaps adds the potential for a natural self-confidence that might otherwise be lacking.
Venus, the planet of artistic expression and relationships is in serious, practical Capricorn. Capricorn is notably hard working and her fierce work ethic is universally recognised within the industry. Capricorn is also a sign that needs clear boundaries and she keeps her married life away from the glare of fame and admits to being a homebody (she wed in 2001 and has three kids).

Capricorn is also the sign where a long apprenticeship needs to be served to gain mastery and Colman must have instinctively understood this at the start of her acting career. When her mother suggested giving it a year, Olivia replied that she would give it 103. Mars in Taurus is also associated with not giving up (even when letting go might be the best course of action, though not in this case of course).
Venus is also prominent in her chart because it’s in the final degree of its sign, the so-called “degree of fate”8 and it’s also retrograde. A natal planet at 29 degrees brings a feeling of inevitability, so it’s no surprise that her 10 years of giving it a go at acting has become a no going back 19-year journey that continues to gain momentum.  Frank Clifford describes a planet at 29 degrees as a “seasoned player”8 and indeed this is exactly how Colman is perceived, receiving all the respect due to someone who has worked incredibly hard to make the most of her talent.

In interviews, she expresses the Capricorn traits of being down to earth and understated with a self-deprecating humour. Charles Dance, her co-star in Netflix’s The Crown describes her as having “a wonderful sense of humour but also works incredibly hard and takes the job very seriously”3. 

Her Venus is ruled by Saturn which sits in late Gemini and Saturn is also the traditional ruler of her Mercury in Aquarius (and Sun and Jupiter) which also explains her self-deprecating humour. It also suggests an image of a young Colman covering up her fear of getting it wrong by meticulously learning her lines, of wanting to get it right in every single little detail.

Venus Square Uranus is her tightest Square and the only major aspect of Venus (excepting a possible Square to the Moon). This Square probably owes a lot more to her down to earth quirkiness than her Aquarian planets. Interpreting it solely in relation to her art, it reflects her unorthodox route to Hollywood fame. It also has something to say about her femininity. At 44, whilst many female actors are bemoaning the lack of parts for older women, Colman’s star is rising. It’s also worth noting that whilst she is undoubtedly an attractive woman, she doesn’t possess the flawless and often airbrushed/plastic looking beauty we see in most Hollywood actresses. In a word, she looks authentic, like an ordinary (that word again) woman we might meet in the street and yet there is nothing bland about the way she looks, her looks are also unique and (at least in the world of acting) unconventional. In some scenes in The Favourite she is actually shown as very unattractive with swollen and inflamed gout ridden legs and clownish make up, a manifestation of the repulsiveness that’s a possibility with Venus Square Uranus.

This Square also tell us that she needs freedom to express her art in her own way and that the Square is activated at key moments in her career, suggests she has been using it well.
The other major measurement in Colman’s chart is an Air Grand Trine. It’s a very mercurial aspect pattern involving Mercury and Jupiter in Aquarius, Saturn and South Node in Gemini and Uranus (the higher Octave of Mercury) in Libra. This again explains her talent for wit, which makes her such a good comedienne, her versatile range (despite so much fixity in her chart) and adds the potential for oratory brilliance. To access the promise of a Grand Trine requires a hard aspect into at least one of the planets involved. In this case, it is that Venus Square to Uranus again, that provides the impetus to actualise its potential into an artform.

The gift of the Air Grand Trine is reflected in her own assertion in a 2012 interview about her instinctive style that “you can over-think things – if the script is good, everything you need is there.” She admitted in a recent Radio 4 interview, in her typical self-effacing way, that this was her approach to playing Queen Anne in The Favourite, going off the script rather than the method acting approach of researching every detail of the monarch’s life and personality. This also suggests the intellectual self-sufficiency associated with an Air Grand Trine.

When Colman picked up her Golden Globe, her midlife Uranus Opposite Uranus transit was just coming to an end, but of course transiting Uranus is also simultaneously Squaring her natal Venus with the last exact hit in February 2019 ahead of Uranus settling in Taurus and well timed for this year’s Oscars ceremony for which she received a nomination the best actress award.

Other measurements include Solar Arc Mercury Aries Square Neptune. Positive manifestations include creative expression, barriers dissolving and dream opportunities. Negative possibilities include over-idealism or impatience and impulsiveness leading to disillusionment and disappointment. Neptune in itself is of course an apt symbol for the glamourous world of ‘let’s pretend’ that is Hollywood.

SA Mercury is also currently applying to a Sextile to her Sun, putting a spotlight on creative self-expression this year. Already, SP Venus is Conjunct her Sun, shining a once in a lifetime spotlight on her talent, showing how far she’s come on her journey since SP Venus was Conjunct its natal position and Square her Uranus which, as already noted, coincided with her first breakthrough role – Uranus is of course associated with breakthroughs of all kinds.

You can read this article in full in the March/April edition of Infinity Astrological Magazine 

Notes and References
1 Colman’s first Golden Globe was awarded in 2017 for best supporting actress in TV drama The Night Manager. Notably, she didn’t turn up to the ceremony because she didn’t think she had a chance of winning
2 - birth time is unknown so a solar sign chart is used. The Moon is either in Aries or Taurus depending on birth time and is not considered in this analysis.
5 Synthesis and Counselling in Astrology, Page 787, Noel Tyl, Llewelyn, 2004 Edition. 
7 According to Ptolemy’s Table of Essential Dignities

Quincunx, Aversion & Venus in Libra

I always have great fun recording the Academy of Astrology UK weekly podcast, hosted by the wonderful Rod Chang. It's never scripted, w...