Well, it doesn't exactly have a ring to it, does it? It's more the sort of name you'd give your goldfish for a joke. In fact, I saw an episode of Blackadder the other day and there was actually a dachshund in it called Colin. It seemed that his name alone was supposed to reduce you to fits of laughter. Hmm. And in my next film, Hope Springs, I play a character called Colin. When the credits roll, I'm thinking of having it billed as 'Colin was played by Mr Darcy'—just so people will know who I really am.
So how did you feel about being known as Mr Darcy?
It all took me very much by surprise at the time. I was 35 and felt I was reaching an age where the romantic leading man was passing out of my scope. I was thinking it was time to do character roles, embrace the pleasures of being a middle-aged oddity, and joyfully get fat.
Do you worry about being typecast as the heroic leading man?
Not really, because I've done other roles, too. Soon after Pride and Prejudice, I did a film called Fever Pitch in which I played a soccer fan who was not glamorous at all—in fact, he was a bit of a slob and this was a profound disappointment to some of the Darcy fans. On the other hand, I found I was very welcome in the pubs in North London, which was refreshing. When people think of me as Darcy, they seem nervous about getting their grammar wrong.
You've just filmed The Importance of Beng Earnest with your old buddy Rupert Everett. What was that like?
Great fun. Rupert and I first worked together 20 years ago, in the film Another Country, and we've been friends ever since. So when we were on set, we were bantering as the two characters, and off the set we'd be messing around, bickering and joking like schoolboys—or, as someone else described us, like an old married couple.
As a child, you moved around a lot. Where do you regard as home?
My grandparents were missionaries and my parents were teachers. They were born in India. When I was young, we lived in Nigeria, then I went to school in America. We've never been particularly focused on one country. I grew up with people visiting my house from India, West Africa, the States—all over. I loved it. Now I live in London with my Italian- born wife, Livia Giuggioli, and our 18-month-old son Luca.
You've a son, William, 12, from a former relationship with actress Meg Tilly. Do you talk to him about girls?
I'm staving that off for as long as I can. If either of my children ever comes to me for advice on women, I'll have to tailor it to who the girl is, and what the social conventions are at the time.
What makes you angry?
I tend not to get angry about anything much for very long. I'm not a grudge bearer, and don't find it hard to forgive. I actually can't think of anything that has been done to me much past yesterday that is really bothering me. That's probably a sign of terrible triviality.
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