COLIN FIRTH TALKS CAREER & HIS LATEST PROJECTS
FROM THE CANADIAN PRESS
COLIN FIRTH said he is taking a break from movies for a while, even though he has received some “very, very good” scripts since his greatly deserved OSCAR nomination for A SINGLE MAN.
“I have just needed to stop right now so I haven’t contemplated anything,” commented the busy actor, who has been in eight films released over the past two years and has two more scheduled to come out in 2010.
COLIN, in Toronto to accept an environmental award for a retail business he runs with his wife’s family, recently completed THE KING’S SPEECH, in which he plays the Queen’s father, George VI. The film focuses on the period when George took over the throne for his abdicating brother, Edward VIII, in 1936.
There is one exception to the self imposed hiatus, stated COLIN.
“I am doing a four day shoot for a film called Steve, which is being directed by my friend Rupert Friend, a young actor…and it feels about right. Short, sweet.”
COLIN FIRTH is a performer who refuses to be typecast.
In addition to critical successes such as A SINGLE MAN, the sweeping, lyrical beauty of the classic 1996 BEST PICTURE winner THE ENGLISH PATIENT and the box office smash BRIDGET JONES’ DIARY, he has taken on the Dutch artist Jan Vermeer in THE GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING, one of the singing dads in the film version of MAMMA MIA and the requisite uptight English stuffed shirt in such teenybopper fare as WHAT A GIRL WANTS.
He said that the OSCAR nomination for his commanding performance in A SINGLE MAN – as a gay college professor considering suicide after his partner is killed suddenly – has brought an increase in scripts, but not an overall improvement in quality.
“It’s partly because I was quite fortunate before. I was seeing quite a lot of stuff. It’s hard to write a good script. Ninety five per cent of it is not very good. Getting nominated didn’t suddenly produce a whole bunch of good writers.“
He spoke enthusiastically about THE KING’S SPEECH, calling it an “extraordinary story” about George VI’s struggles to overcome a bad stutter when his older brother unexpectedly abdicated the throne to marry a divorced widow, pushing the ill prepared younger son of George V onto the throne on the eve of the Second World War.
“I knew about his speech difficulties, I knew who he was, I knew about the abdication – the stuff everybody in England knows. I didn’t know about the speech therapy he was getting, which is what our film deals with. I didn’t know he went to see this unorthodox Australian guy. It turned into a very unusual friendship.”
The film also stars GEOFFREY RUSH as speech coach LIONEL LOGUE, HELENA BONHAM CARTER as QUEEN ELIZABETH (better known later as the Queen Mother) and GUY PEARCE as EDWARD VIII.
Directed by Tom Hooper, THE KING’S SPEECH also reunites COLIN with JENNIFER EHLE, his costar in the much loved 1995 miniseries PRIDE & PREJUDICE. She plays Lionel Logue’s wife.
COLIN claimed that he found the story of George, the current Queen’s father, tragic.
“I think he had a very, very vulnerable quality. He was a frightened man who had, I think, suffered abuse in his life in all sorts of ways and was not groomed for this job and was not expecting it. His only job was to speak for the nation, on live radio – I mean, how cruel was that?”
“There is no recording yet, there is no editing for radio – this is live to the empire. You’ve got a war coming as well. You’re the guy who has to reinforce us all and lead us into (war). Your adversaries are the best in the business – Hitler, Mussolini. So that’s what he was facing and the stakes were very high. And because he was senior royalty he didn’t have any friends.”
Was it intimidating playing the father of the current Queen?
“I wouldn’t say it was an easy film to make. I couldn’t imitate this man. But I used some characteristics I spotted in him. I don’t look like him, really, but the essential qualities are what you are chasing.”
Is he worried about what the Queen will think of his interpretation?
“It crossed my mind. She appears in the film as a child. But you can’t be hostage to those thoughts. This is a film about them as human beings…There was a tremendous amount of love between that father and those girls. His parents had been rather distant, to put it mildly, but he adored those children. When you look at pictures of the Royal Family operating, you see his parents standing there very rigid. He’s always looking at the girls. He’s holding them, he’s smiling, he’s taking pleasure in them.”
COLIN is obviously moved by the circumstances of George’s life, talking about the “gut wrenching” footage that exists of Elizabeth and her father saying goodbye for the last time in 1952, as she heads off on a royal tour to Africa. A life long smoker, he died of lung cancer while she was gone.
“He saw her off at the airfield and she gets on the plane and you know he is not going to see her again. He said to somebody, ‘Take care of Lillibet’ and that was the last of it.”
“There was a very strong little family unit there.”