Olivier Awards 2023: Paul Mescal, Jodie Comer and Totoro triumph

Oscar nominee Paul Mescal, Killing Eve star Jodie Comer and My Neighbour Totoro have all triumphed at this year’s Olivier Awards.

Mescal won best actor for A Streetcar Named Desire, and said he was “standing on the shoulders of the immense talent of so many other people”.

Comer won best actress for Prima Facie, and said she was overwhelmed, praising the “complete sisterhood backstage – a constant network of support”.

My Neighbour Totoro won six Oliviers.

The awards were held at London’s Royal Albert Hall, where Totoro’s wins also included best entertainment or comedy play – plus best director.

Standing at the Sky’s Edge won best new musical, while Beverley Knight won best supporting actress in a musical for her role as suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst in Sylvia.

Former Doctor Who actor Arthur Darvill won best actor in a musical for Oklahoma!, while 16 of the 18 winners were receiving their first Olivier award.


The show was hosted by Ted Lasso star and three-time Oliviers nominee Hannah Waddingham, who is also going to co-host this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool. She sang with the casts of various musicals, opening the show with an original song.

She joked in her opening monologue she would “happily be mauled to death” by Comer in Killing Eve – in which the actress plays a lethal killer.

Olivier Awards: Seven things we learned at the ceremony
Waddingham also used sign language to welcome former Strictly Come Dancing winner Rose Ayling-Ellis, who was nominated for best supporting actress for As You Like It.

Mescal thanked his co-stars and parents “who never said no” in his acceptance speech, and told his Mum, who has been undergoing cancer treatment: “I hope you get better soon.”

Media caption,
Watch: Paul Mescal told the BBC in February his Oscar nomination was giving his family a respite after difficult times

The actor told the BBC afterwards that when he chooses a role, he is “interested in exploring the myriad of different versions of what masculinity is”.

He won for playing the toxic Stanley Kowalski in Streetcar, and was Oscar-nominated for playing the troubled Calum in Aftersun, after getting critical acclaim for playing sensitive Connell in TV drama Normal People.

“I think creative death for me would be for people to predict what I’m doing next,” he added. “I don’t want that. So hopefully I’ll keep it moving in a direction that surprises people.”

Jodie Comer drew praise for her West End debut in Prima Facie
In a one-woman show, Comer plays a barrister specialising in defending people accused of sexual assault, who questions the system after being date-raped.

She said in her acceptance speech: “To any kids who haven’t been to drama school, who can’t afford to go, have been rejected – don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible.”

Comer also joked that she was having a “brain… fart” when her mind momentarily went blank.

The actress told the BBC afterwards that when she explored the play, she was “actually quite embarrassed” she had not “questioned” how the legal system operates before.

She researched the role by sitting in on court cases and speaking to barristers, judges and police offers who were “very honest” about how they had to “put aside their own feelings as a woman, to commit to the job that they do”.

Knight did two performances during the ceremony – one for Sylvia, and the other for Sister Act – and gave an emotional acceptance speech, saying: “Just over 100 years ago, Emmeline Pankhurst stood on this stage and said,’ I incite this meeting to rebellion’.

“She told each of the women in the room, ‘be militant in your own way’ and that was in 1912. The next year they banned the women’s Social and Political Union.

“One hundred later we’re stood on this stage – we have reclaimed the power for those women. I want to thank with all my heart the Old Vic for giving us a second bite on this one.”