Contents, June 2002, by Lisa Raden


Messrs. Rupert Everett and Colin Firth

a Q & A

(in earnest)

Eighteen years ago, two young British actors named Rupert Everett and Colin Firth starred together in the 30s era homoerotic public school drama, Another Country. Almost two decades later, and now they are being reunited on screen in Miramax’s version of Oscar Wilde’s cherished romantic comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest. Everett and Firth head an extraordinary cast that includes Dame Judi Dench, Reese Witherspoon and Frances O’Connor, in director Oliver Parker’s updated version of the classic tale.

Set in 1890’s England, the film revolves around two young gents, Algernon Moncrieff (Everett) and Jack Worthing (Firth), in search of romance and a little excitement. In doing so, Worthing creates a nonexistent brother (Earnest) [sic] to visit London so that he can call upon his sweetheart, Gwendolyn [sic] (O’Connor). Things go awry when Algernon catches on to his deception, and without clueing in Worthing, assumes the role of Earnest to seduce young Cecily (Witherspoon), Worthing’s ward staying at his country manor. When they both end up in the country at the same time, their deception is exposed, and mayhem breaks out.

After working together at the very beginning of their careers, and now as two of the most sought after actors in Britain, we thought it would be fun to have them come up with questions for one another. Could we get insight into their 20-year professional relationship? Would their characters in Oscar Wilde’s wicked tale influence the repartee? And do these guys even like each other, or is it a bad coincidence that they have ended up once again in the same film? Evidently, it appears they had a jolly good time on the set, and from the looks of it, they may even be a little fond of each other. But then again, you be the judge.

M. Everett to M. Firth:

What did you think of me when we first met?
Kind, generous, professional...adorable in every way.

What do you think of me now? Have I changed much?
You have become a monster.

Has a mid-life crisis hit yet and if so, describe it in depth?
I’ve started dreaming about Harley Davidsons, Botox and Britney Spears.

Have you experimented with drugs?
I can’t remember—it’s all a blank.

What made you become an actor?
Desperate need to put on frocks and be adored. Tyrone Power also had quite a lot to do with it.

Did Bridget Jones’s Diary change your life?
I’ve changed a lot more diapers since it was released (had a baby more or less the same day)—and yes, I get a lot more upgrades.

Are you jealous of Hugh Grant and if not, who are you jealous of?
I admire his talent and envy his hair options. I also look forward to the day when my fee equals his per diem—but I can live with not being him. No further comment. Any honest answers to this question would be far too revealing.

Do you regret never having played Hamlet?
Do you regret my not having played it? I actually did play it once—I regret not have played it a bit better.

Where do you see yourself in twenty years? Would you like a knighthood?
While I think a knighthood is inevitable in the next year or so, I think I’m going to have to decline on grounds that it might make me seem a bit old and spoil my chances with Britney. Twenty years time would be fine. I expect I’ll still be acting—if anyone is still asking and the implants and transplants allow. I’d quite like to end up as Charles Gray.

Have you ever dabbled with homosexuality?
I don’t really think this is the place to come out.

What is your best memory of making The Importance of Being Earnest?
Dabbling with homosexuality.

M. Firth to M. Everett:

When they suggested me for The Importance of Being Earnest what was your first reaction?
Oh God, not him. But I was pleasantly surprised at the first reading when you didn’t bring that awful guitar and you seemed to have lost that red brick “Robin-Hoody” thing that you were working in the old days.

When you dream of giving it all up and doing something else, what do you dream of doing?
I’d like to be a loader at Miami International Airport and get rich smuggling.

Would you ever consider cosmetic surgery. If so, what?
Yes, I would consider cosmetic surgery—perhaps a penis reduction.

Were you jealous of my singing voice in The Importance of Being Earnest?
Yes, desperately. I thought what a shame for you that vaudeville is dead.

What most relaxes you during breaks in filming?
A good whine about the production.

What quality in other actors most enrages you?
When they are too good.

Is there anything that (as an actor) you would absolutely refuse to do—however much they paid you?
It would depend on the money.

Do you like doing live chat shows?
They terrify me.

Are you in any way politically motivated?

What is your best memory of making The Importance of Being Earnest?
I enjoyed the whole thing—you made me laugh the entire time. So did Judi.

Are you jealous of Hugh Grant? If not, who are you jealous of?
I’m not jealous of High Grant, but I am jealous of Denny Night Debenhams (Daniel Day Lewis) because whenever he goes off to be a cobbler or have a wobbly, Harvey Weinstein and Martin Scorcese are on the next plane tracking down the shoe shop, coming in on all fours and begging him to come back. I once threw it all in for a bar job and I’d still be there now if I hadn’t been fired.

M. Firth photographed by Randall Mesdon
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