Pride and Parentage
We loved him as Mr Darcy
and were left wanting more in Bridget Jones’s Diary. Here, Colin Firth
talks about his latest film and his major role in life—playing dad
Whether you’re a
fan of ‘that scene’ in Pride and Prejudice, or loved him as the silent
but smouldering Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Colin Firth has
left generations of women weak at the knees. His latest film, And When
Did You Last See Your Father? is one of several new projects out this
year, but now Colin is a family man with two children, keeping the
family close despite his hectic schedule has become a major challenge.
Colin and his wife Livia have two sons, Luca (6) and Mateo (4). What
concerns him, he admits, is that movie-making on such a grand scale
takes him away from his family.
In fact, trying to make travel arrangements fit around his schedule is
‘one of life’s nightmares’.
“Projects that I get involved with have—to date—been very ‘child
friendly’,” says Colin. “I’m a dad who goes to work, but if I’m working
in the boys’ holiday time, then I’ll want to have them around.”
And we’ll be seeing plenty of this hard-working actor on our screens in
the near future. Colin has five major movies due for release over the
next few months and he’s lined up for another four. He’s also producer
on a new documentary, In Prison My Whole Life, about a miscarriage of
justice involving the black activist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is on death
row in the USA for allegedly shooting a police officer.
Due for release next month, And When Did You Last See Your Father?
tells the moving story of poet Blake Morrison (Colin Firth) and the
relationship he has with his father Arthur (Jim Broadbent), who is
dying of cancer. It’s an emotional family drama, and Colin admits that
before the arrival of his own children he had a whole different
attitude to life and work. “You just cannot walk away from fatherhood.
And if you do, you do it at a cost. No single event ever changes you as
much as when you become a dad.
“When my boys came along, I realised that something had happened that I
couldn’t go back on. When I think about what alleged ‘success’ is, and
all the things that being moderately famous bring, they just pale into
insignificance next to the things one really cares about.”
Colin is also a devoted father to his
eldest son Will, now nearly 16, whose mother is the American actress
As far as roles are concerned, choosing which jobs he does—and which he
doesn’t—has to be a case by case exercise. “Do what you want to do on a
personal level, and then see where the chips fall. I think that
film-making generally is all about a lot of luck. Right place, right
“But, of course, you also have to want to tell a story. That’s what I’m
in it for—I just love telling stories.”
Following the success of Pride and Prejudice in 1995, Colin made the
BBC’s adaptation of Joseph Contrad’s Nostromo. The critics gave it a
unanimous panning, but as far as Colin is concerned the series totally
changed his life. The production assistant was a lovely Italian called
Livia Giuggioli and they fell in love, virtually at first sight. “She
didn’t have a clue who I was,” he laughs.
With all the media attention on Mr Darcy
getting married in real life, Colin and Livia had to fight hard to keep
the location of their wedding a secret. It happened deep in the Italian
countryside and not one reporter turned up. “I got very protective,”
admits Colin. The couple celebrated ten years of marriage this year.
Colin’s new films for release include a modern take on the classic
schoolroom comedy St Trinian’s, The Accidental Husband, And Then She
Found Me and The Last Legion, in which he plays the Roman general
Aurelius. “We shot that in Slovakia,” he says. “I was a bit wary about
doing it at first—I thought I’d have to wear a toga, but then I found
out that the generals were usually togged up in leggings. I don’t think
that the world is quite ready for me in a toga!”
Colin has an actor brother Jonathan, his junior by six years, and a
sister, Kate. She is a much-respected vocal coach. “Jonathan is far
more like me—Kate is the major achiever,” says Colin.
There’s no professional rivalry between the two brothers, although
Colin does allow that Jonathan has quite a sardonic sense of
humour. “When I told him, all those years ago, that I’d landed
the part of Darcy, he just looked me up and down then, after a long
silence, said, ‘Really? Colin, I thought that Mr Darcy was supposed to
be quite dashing, and handsome?’ But I do think I have a kind of
neutrality, physically, that has probably helped me in my film and TV
career. I have a face that can be made to look a lot better—and a lot
worse—than it is!”
When Did You Last See Your Father? is out in October.