04/10/2011 08:43 BST | Updated 04/12/2011 05:12 GMT

'Tyrannosaur' Actress Olivia Colman Reveals How Paddy Considine Has Made Her A Big-Screen Heavyweight

“I’m extremely lucky, I’m in a very happy marriage. Just the mere thought of my beautiful husband turning against me is so horrific, that it doesn’t take an awful lot to get to that place.”

If viewers find themselves unsettled and upset by Tyrannosaur, an incredibly raw, unsettling British film, the big-screen directing debut of actor Paddy Considine, they will be in good company. Lead actress Olivia Colman has seen it eight times now, and still can’t get through it in one piece:

“I forget I’m in it. I sit there bawling, and I haven’t managed to watch it once yet without crying. I love these people, and Paddy’s done the most extraordinary job. You hate the character Joseph within 30 seconds, and you love him by the end.

“It’s about challenging people’s perceptions - you think you know what someone’s life is like, and you invariably don’t, I love being sucked into that world.”

Those used to seeing Colman’s bonny, brown-eyed good looks in shows such as Green Wing and Hot Fuzz will see a hitherto hidden side in what is undoubtedly her screen breakthrough role – award nominations surely beckon for her portrayal of Hannah, a broken, tormented charity shop worker forced to seek refuge from her destructive marriage. If it sounds heavy-going, it is (with an 18 certificate to boot). But for Colman, it obviously means everything:

“It was the job of a lifetime. It was the job I’ve dreamed of since I was 12, and it’s the thing I’ll be most proud of until I die. I can’t imagine anything coming close to this.

“No actor is going turn down the chance to play this person. It was beautiful, and I am eternally grateful that Paddy thought of me.”

And was she able to switch off at night after the gruelling nature of the scenes?

I got to vent so much during the scenes that I didn’t need to take it away with me. I don’t actually understand Method acting - if it works for others, brilliant, but I don’t need to do that. It was actually incredibly cathartic, doing it in the moment but with those kind of scenes, you couldn’t go there with another actor doing it the Method way, you wouldn’t be able to trust them.

Sanctuary comes for Hannah in the form of gruff widower Joseph, in an equally spellbinding performance by Peter Mullan. And it is this unlikely union that forms the backbone of the film, providing moments of lightness, even humour and occasional joy that belie an indisputably bleak backdrop.

Up until doing this film, I would never have understood why women stay with abusive husbands,” reflects Colman.

I’ve watched friends be with people they should not be with, but I’ve learnt so much. The fear is extraordinary, hopefully something we’ll never know. It’s an impossible situation.

I wanted to do justice to that struggle, give respect to those who have suffered at the hands of someone they love.”

“As for my character, I’d just like to give her a cuddle.”

Tyrannosaur is in cinemas from this Friday 7th October.