Premiere, December 2004/January 2005, by Mark Salisbury

Colin Firth

on Bridget, Battles and that Bitchy Hugh Grant


After playing characters named Darcy, first in the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, then in 2001's Bridget Jones's Diary, Colin Firth found that the public's perception of him had changed. The 44-year-old actor had been transformed from a respected, serious actor into a dashing, international heartthrob. It's a position Firth is not altogether comfortable with, which is why he followed romantic roles in Love Actually and Girl With a Pearl Earring with Trauma, a psychological chiller in which he plays a coma survivor haunted by visions of his dead wife.

Yet the lure of the romantic comedy is hard to deny, and Firth returns this fall in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason as Mark Darcy, the human rights lawyer beau of Bridget (Renee Zellweger). "It's what happens after happily ever after," Firth says.

Having won Bridget's heart from the dastardly Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), Darcy discovers the course of true love doesn't necessarily run smoothly. "She finds the the fact he is so emotionally constipated frustrating, and that snowballs," says Firth. "She starts to get insecure that she doesn't fit into his world, and she gets jealous of other women." When their relationship founders, Cleaver makes his move and the two men again come to blows. "It has the air of an inevitable ritual," Firth says. "They fight like a couple of girls. Once the gloves come off, they're two pathetic, rather sissy, frightened, angry yuppies."

Offscreen, Firth and Grant also share a good-natured rivalry. Just listen to the latter's commentary on the Love Actually DVD: "He's has a go at me from the beginning to the end," Firth says, "so much so that the legal department at Universal sent me a copy just in case I wanted to nix anything. He basically sighs or snores whenever I appear on the scene, makes comments about how the actress is having to do all the work, or how I must be using a rinse to color my hair, or being photographed cleverly to make my jawline look better. I like to think of it as a Bette Davis-Joan Crawford sort of thing."

photograph by Catherine Ledner, taken at Raffles L'Ermitage, Beverly Hills

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