U.K.-based actress Ingrid Oliver has spent much of her career working for the taxpayer-funded, and very cost conscious, BBC. So, Oliver got a pleasant surprise when she walked onto the set of The Hustle, the just-released comedy which stars Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson.
“This was my first big American movie and the difference is quite striking,” the actress says, with a laugh, “just in terms of the money, and the perks, and where you get to film, and stuff like that. If you wanted a smoothie, you could have a smoothie — which was completely insane. Anne paid for a crepe truck one day, which was amazing. I absolutely loved every minute of it. I’m now going to be very difficult and a diva when I go back to BBC productions.”
Hathaway and Wilson play con artists while Oliver portrays a cop called Inspector Desjardins in what has been widely described as a gender swap remake of the 1988 movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which starred Michael Caine and Steve Martin.
“Anne and Rebel go around, turning the tables on men, and defrauding them, and conning them into giving them lots of money, whilst wearing fabulous outfits,” she says. “I play Anne’s right-hand woman, who is a French police detective on the take. People have been asking me, ‘Oh, have you seen the original?’ And Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is one of my favorite comedy films of all time. I absolutely love it. But actually, the original original was a 1964 film called Bedtime Story, starring David Niven and Marlon Brando, bizarrely. So, the 1988 movie is a remake of an earlier film, so this is the third incarnation.”
Oliver is best known for playing the character of Petronella Osgood on the BBC’s time travel show Doctor Who. A scientist who works for the evil-battling UNIT organization, Osgood is also a massive geek when it comes to the titular Time Lord, even wearing a scarf similar to the one sported by Tom Baker’s ’70s-era Fourth Doctor.
“The first time I appeared, it was the 50th anniversary special, so that was a really big deal,” she says. “When we filmed an outside scene in Trafalgar Square, I’d been given the Tom Baker scarf to wear, and Steven Moffat (Doctor Who executive producer) said, ‘This is a really big responsibility.’ They put the scarf on me, and I was standing in the middle of Trafalgar Square, and over the course of the day there were lots of people turning up to watch. I looked over to the barriers where the public were standing, and there were three men just standing there staring at me, all wearing Tom Baker scarves. And they weren’t together. I was like, Oh my god, This is a really big deal.”
Osgood didn’t make an appearance on the last season of Doctor Who — the first to star Jodie Whittaker — but Oliver reveals she would be more than happy to make a return. “I’d love to,” says th actress, who has reprised the role in audio versions of the show. “Osgood never got to go in the TARDIS, and I think that’s such a shame, and I’d love her to be with a female Doctor as well. I think Osgood and a woman Doctor would be brilliant. I still work for UNIT, as far as I’m concerned!”
Oliver will next be seen alongside Henry Golding and Emilia Clarke in the romantic-comedy Last Christmas, (out Nov. 15).
“We just finished that, with Paul Feig directing and Emma Thompson writing,” she says. “That was lovely. I’ve always wanted to work with Paul Feig, because he’s directed a couple of my favorite films, including The Heat, and he works with women a lot, he’s really supportive. My audition was for him and Emma Thompson and I had to improvise with Emma Thompson. I thought I was just going to walk into a room with a casting director, and I walked in, and it was Paul Feig and Emma Thompson, and now I’m improvising with Emma Thompson, who’s also been one of my heroes for a long time, so that was mental.”
When not improvising with Emma Thompson or eating crepes with Anne Hathaway, Oliver can be found in a London basement guesting on Remainiacs, a self-described “no-bulls— Brexit broadcast” devoted to explaining why leaving the European Union would be a disaster for Britain.
“We, the Remainiacs people, are trying to get people to vote in the European elections and we’re a bit scared about what’s going to happen there,” she says. “Our country is being slightly ripped apart by some very irresponsible people.”
Watch the trailer for The Hustle above.