fri 25/07/2014

theartsdesk Q&A: Actor Colin Firth | Film reviews, news & interviews

theartsdesk Q&A: Actor Colin Firth

The best interview ever with the Oscar-winner as he talks about what made him an actor

Colin Firth: 'Hysteria, fear, paranoia, weakness, cowardice - I think it's important to reflect them'

In some ways it’s been an odd career. Everyone else in Another Country (1982), the stage play by Julian Mitchell about gays and Marxists in a 1930s English public school, shot out of the blocks. Firth was the only actor to play both lead parts, one onstage, the other on film (1984), but he took the slower road to outright stardom and only now is he clearly the bigger cheese than Rupert Everett, Kenneth Branagh and possibly even Daniel Day-Lewis. For years as a young actor he laboured somewhat in their shadow. He was in a film adaptation of Laclos's Les Liaisons Dangéreuses, but not the one which cleaned up at the box office. He spent a lot of time in Los Angeles but not for professional reasons; his son by Meg Tilly was growing up there.

Then in 1995 his performance in Pride and Prejudice fixed him as Middle England’s frock-coated, sideburned pin-up. Suddenly, and for another decade or more, he was living under the long shadow cast by Mr Darcy. Notwithstanding his presence in hugely popular hits like Shakespeare in Love, Bridget Jones's Diary, Love Actually and Mamma Mia!, he has only finally escaped it with these two films. Whether one, or indeed Firth himself, sets any store by these things, the roles of a bereaved American homosexual and a tongue-tied English monarch have won him two consecutive Baftas. The King's Speech has also earned him a Golden Globe. It's more or less the same trajectory Helen Mirren took for playing Firth's character's daughter in The Queen. And now the Oscar is his too.I first met Firth in 1987. He had written a fascinating diary about making A Month in the Country for a magazine and it needed trimming. By several thousand words. I helped with the cutting. Of the several times I have interviewed him subsequently, it has always struck me how, unlike the majority of actors, he talks in carefully fashioned paragraphs about the business of being an actor, of being Colin Firth. To mark the moment his career peaked, theartsdesk publishes a conflation of those several conversations, held over a number of years.

ASingleMan_review1JASPER REES: Is it fair to say that on the whole you play withdrawn people? There's not much throwing your arms around.

COLIN FIRTH: Another Country was a pretty demonstrative character. In fact, because that character was so demonstrative and ebullient I felt that if anything I was going to get typecast that way. Because I played the character in the film who's a much more contained person it went that way instead. I think that's the only one really.

Another Country launched several careers at once, but yours seemed to lag behind the others out in the fast lane. They got further faster. Was there a private sense of resentment?

I've always, I think rather compulsively, found myself looking at everything from so many different angles and having so many different attitudes to things at once, that if you feel yourself marginalised slightly you can resent it and cherish it at the same time.

Watch a clip from Another Country

Comments

The remark about shameful

The remark about shameful emotions and reflecting them gave me some insight into a writing project. Very well said, and very inspirational.
Colin is brilliant. Thank you for expressing your self. Colin's television interviews sound so rehearsed, i can understand this, any interview is extraordinarily difficult, but this interview is lovely--Colin sounds honest and real. Colin is a delightful man. We are lucky to be able to enjoy his talent, skill, and kindness.
This interview confirmed for me what I always believed to be the origin of Colin Firth's genius or as translated from Latin his "guardian spirit ". His guardian spirit was his blessed fortune to have experienced growing up in poor countries such as India and Nigeria where the sheer simplicity of the people show you true joy. They have nothing but their joy and their joy enters you and you are never the same. Your perception of the world and yourself changes. You see real happiness in the place you least expect. I am sure someone of Colin Firth's intelligence, imagination and a keen observer of human behaviour as well, would have a great advantage over other actors by the nature of his unusual upbringing. Being freed from conventional western behavior early on, then brought back into it seems to me that it would give him the greatest of flexibility over others in his profession. By pulling from more than one culture to create characters, their emotions, ideas and identities, he has in his head a formidable colorwheel of sorts for creating endless possibilities.
This is one of the best interviews with Colin Firth I've encountered. Thank you and Colin Firth for a much greater insight into his practicing and honing of his work. In fact, usually there are just a few comments, so I've hitherto never been able to quite grasp the process he's mentioned. Now, finally, I understand! With all the frills and fluff around film and actors, it is always a great joy to encounter journalism that recognizes and reflects upon the art and personage of the artist. This is creme de la creme!
would just like to say that i really enjoyed reading through this interview with Colin Firth an looking through the video clips as well.. Well Done an i can honestly say i am an avid Colin Firth fan now
Thanks for posting this! One can never have enough Colin Firth - and it's refreshing to read such well thought out questions. So many interviewers believe that life begins (and ends) with Darcy.
Thx very much. I was remiss not to mention I enjoyed your article very much.
Jane, here is a link to the article. My memory has slightly deceived me: it turned out to be longer than I recall, though we did definitely have to cut it considerably. http://bit.ly/frWl9q
I would love to read the article by Colin mentioned in the opening. Are there any links available?

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