Colin Firth: What I’ve Learned

Colin-Firth-01After you’re nominated for an Oscar, it’s not as if you wake up the day and suddenly there are fifty wonderful scripts on your doorstep. I may have only received three scripts over a given period beforehand and if those three were not particularly good then it doesn’t help you if there are suddenly fifty that are not particularly good. It’s very hard to write a good script.

You’re never in a world of perfect choice.

Sex symbol of Middle England? I was quite delighted. I was thirty-five when that happened and was starting to think that I was passing out of the romantic zone completely, so it was quite invigorating to be a sex-anything past a certain age. It helped keep me employed too.

A good story is a good story whether we are using a conceit of the 1930s or 1800s or pretending we’re all French. The “period” I never really notice, frankly. Other people talk about it more than I do.

It feels stranger to shoot things in a contemporary setting because you’re thinking, “this is my era and these are shoes I’d never wear.”

The idea that I’m troubled by the Darcy thing is completely untrue. It has become something that certain elements of the press seem to like. It seems inevitable somehow.

That thing about me being a reluctant heartthrob… Hey, listen, I’m not remotely reluctant!

There’s something marvelously subversive about Mamma Mia. A lot of stories out there end in extolling the bourgeoisie virtues of marriage and this is very anti-marriage. This is not only about people being sexually alive in their fifties but it celebrates not getting married and being free and breaking some of those social mores.

ABBA has not been my listening fare at any point in my life, but it has that capacity to loosen people up.

I lived in Nigeria until I was four. I can think my way through the house, the atmosphere, the light, the vegetation, the people I knew. It’s still there in my mind and it’s still quite potent.

I grew up surrounded by people from different parts of the world. My background in some ways has more to do with India than England because my parents were born and raised there.

My brother and I were the only two in my family that were born in England. None of my children were born in England. It’s just an accident of how my family has worked out that I tend to see life well beyond the borders of the United Kingdom.

People might assume I’m a Tory, but through the generations as far as you go there is not one Conservative. They’re academics, church clergymen, doctors, a lot of philanthropists and people who travel the world.

Xenophobia and the anti-immigration stance are all based on a false fear that is easily whipped up because it’s a very powerful political and electoral tool. If you can create a bogus enemy and blame the social or economic ills on them, then you can do it at very little cost when it comes to the outsiders.

It’s utterly shocking that we’ve spent a lot of time locking up children and innocent families, traumatising them. Asylum seekers don’t have any rights, they can’t vote, they don’t have a voice in society and it’s very, very easy to persecute people in that position. You can create a completely hidden community.

A broad upbringing helped me as an actor. It’s based in relating to the imagination and I’ve been exposed to cultures.

I did publicly support the Liberal Democrats but I’m now without any political affiliation.

I’d have liked to see the Lib Dems consolidate the direction they were going in but they’re in a coalition government with a party I don’t like and whose ideology does not square with mine. And that’s true for a lot of people.

A day is a long time in my business, just as it is in politics.

For Esquire magazine – click here for page one / here for page two

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