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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

December 7, 2009 at 10:45 AM

A few words from Colin Firth

Lovely article in the New York Times yesterday about Colin Firth, who gives yet another beautifully nuanced performance in Tom Ford’s “A Single Man,” opening in Seattle December 25. In that film, he plays a gay professor in early 1960s California, quietly devastated by the death of his lover whom he may not publicly mourn. Like so many of Firth’s roles, it’s a study in restraint — something he understands quite well. “One of the reasons that [Tom Ford’s] film is so wonderfully written,” he said, “is that it addresses the fact that people aren’t really saying what’s going on inside them.”
The man who can rock a reindeer jumper like nobody’s business has been in the movies for 25 years, amassing a varied and impressive list of work — and, along the way, becoming something of a heartthrob. (I once interviewed Firth on the phone, for “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” and he was every bit as charming, in an understated sort of way, as I expected. So I told him about someone I know who insisted on bringing the DVD of Firth in “Pride & Prejudice” to the labor room where she would give birth to her first child, as a happy distraction. His response: a gentlemanly yet clearly horrified “Oh my God.”)
Like so many British actors, Firth is articulate about his art. I particularly liked this quote, which opens a window onto his process:

“One of the things I’ve always been taught as a drama student was not to play the emotion,” Mr. Firth said. “That doesn’t mean to say you don’t express it, you don’t have it, you don’t find it. The emotion is the obstacle. The person doesn’t want to be unhappy, and the unhappiness is the obstacle that gets in the way.”


Why, hello there, Mr. Darcy! Firth and Jennifer Ehle in the 1995 BBC “Pride & Prejudice.”

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