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.
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."
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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