And she returns to the medium once again for Genius, where she is cast as Albert Einstein’s first wife Mileva Maric.
She couldn’t stop singing the praises of Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Flynn in the eponymous role in the scripted drama: “I love that I see Johnny in Geoffrey and Geoffrey in Johnny. It’s not just the amazing prosthetic work. You start to think they could be versions of each other. Some of their mannerisms, raised eyebrows and so on and the detailed work – is wonderful.”
While history hasn’t acknowledged Maric for her invaluable contributions to Einstein’s work, it doesn’t reduce her role in his life.
But before delving more into her scope in the series – she is prominent in seven of the 10 episodes – Colley shares her elation to be working with Ron Howard.
She admits: “The concept of meeting him was scary. I auditioned first thinking I’m not going to get that. Then I got through the second audition.”
It was in a room in London when she met Howard.
“He was the loveliest and most compassionate He’s a really good storyteller. This has been a dream come true,” Colley adds.
When viewers first meet Maric, she’s this genius mind, who challenges Einstein from the very first time they lay eyes on each other.
Her physical disability, one leg is longer than the other, is not a factor in their blossoming romance, which culminated in a marriage with two kids.
“We divorce in 1919. So I’m in the story until then. Of course, I’m still being a nuisance on the phone. Everything in Genius is a lesson on trying to maintain a level of decency and compassion,” she continues.
Recalling information she stumbled upon during her research into this unsung hero of a character, she says, “Einstein’s mother described her as this kind of hop-along. This lump. To depict physical defect, we had to play around with the insoles of the boot. A lot has to do with the shoulders and how she holds herself up”.
And while Einstein is praised for his genius mind, his first wife could go toe-to-toe with him.
Colley says: “She is another example of a woman being elbowed out of history. And, yet, she had every right to be there. He gave the Nobel prize money to her in their settlement. In those times, it was believed that having a woman’s name on paper, lessens its credibility. Again, I say bollocks. It’s what she deserved.”
As for their love life, she hints: “Again, the letters reveal they had a healthy appetite for one another. It was naughty, hedonistic and Bohemian.”
Contextualising her role in Einstein’s life, she offers: “One of the things he said to his best friend after the divorce was, ‘Mileva will always remain a severed limb’. I think that’s amazing. It also means that she wasn’t just this piece of arse. She meant something.”
What started off as the perfect marriage of minds mushroomed into a tumultuous relationship. Talk about a complicated status quo!