Esquire (British), November 2003

An email interview with Esquire magazine

Colin Firth: The start of ‘Love Actually' on getting into Bridget Jones' wet swimming trunks

Colin Firth, 43, has been acting for two decades, but made his name as Darcy in the wet T-shirt competition scene in 'Pride and Prejudice' in 1995.  Next year he stars in the much hyped -'Girl With a Pearl Earring' and 'Trauma,' Marc Evan's follow-up to 'My Little Eye', but first up is the Richard Curtis ensemble comedy 'Love Actually'

From:  Colin Firth

To: Esquire Magazine

01/09/03 2:27 pm

Subject: Acting

ESQUIRE:  We know you best for romantic comedies, but these days you seem to be very adept at mixing them with more complex movies.

CF:  For a while it felt like all I was making was romantic comedies.  Doing light stuff is not as light to do as to watch.  It's a headache, actually.  But I dare say if I want to make a living, I'll be doing more.  There did come a point, however, where it was nice to do something a bit more. . .serious. ‘Pearl Earring’ was the first thing I’ve done straight in a while. I’ve seen some clips and it looks great. ‘Trauma’ was emotionally draining to make. It would have taken a lot for me not to want to work with Marc [Evans].

ESQ:  There is even talk of an Oscar for “Girl With A Pearl Earring’.

CF:  That’s absolutely ridiculous. Preposterous. There is talk of making a campaign, yes, but a million films will be doing that. I suppose if it does commercially well, it will be in that zone; Oscar contenders almost always have a literary claim.

ESQ:  Given your ability to do light and dark so well, it’s surprising you’re not a huge Hollywood star.

CF:  I don’t think it’s so strange. None of my favourite actors are big actors. If you are not in the top five, you’re in good company sometimes. Real talent is not always properly understood; people understand charisma and star quality rather than acting.

ESQ:  Which actors are you thinking of?

CF:  Christopher Walken is brilliant. Perhaps he didn’t seek a career as a leading man, perhaps he’s happy playing psychopaths or psychics. He was a beautiful looking guy, but he was too complex to hit that note of beige. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a phenomenal actor. Every time. And Ian Holm is pretty good; I saw him several times before I realized he was the same actor, which is enormously to his credit. But then one of my favourite old-time actors is Spencer Tracy and he was always recognizable. Actually most of the greats pretty much played the same roles time and time again.

ESQ:  Did you forsee the success of ’Bridget Jones’ Diary?’

CF:  All the ingredients were there: an enormous bestseller; a very well-known American actress; Hugh Grant and Richard Curtis, who have an amazing strike rate; Mr. Darcy playing Mr. Darcy. I thought it might fall down on the basis that it was all too cute. So, yes, I was surprised.

ESQ:  Hugh Grant told me that doing the sequel would be akin to putting on wet trunks. How do you feel?

CF:  Ha! Yesterday I said to my wife it would be like putting on yesterday’s underpants. But I think it would be very difficult for any single one of us to put up a hand and say, “I’m going to spoil it.” I have to say I have a strong sense of inevitability about ‘Bridget II’.

ESQ:  Are you glad you donned britches for ‘Pride and Prejudice’, or is Darcy an Albatross?

CF:  Everyone I knew was saying I couldn’t possibly do that role. I was bombarded with people saying: “You can’t do all that smouldering, it’s not you at all. You’re not sexy enough, you’re not straightforward enough.”

ESQ:  Was that the worst thing anyone has ever said about you: ”You’re not sexy?”

CF:  No; I was once reported dead twice. Someone sent me a clipping they had found in a Belgian newspaper announcing my death in a car accident. I’d just made a film called ‘Another Country’ and another actor, a 21-year-old, was killed in a car crash on the day of the premiere. It was terrible.

‘Love Actually’ is out on 21 November

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