An email interview with Esquire
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'
01/09/03 2:27 pm
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
ESQ: Given your ability to do
light and dark so well, it’s surprising you’re not a huge Hollywood
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
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
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