- Category : Actor
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Colin Andrew Firth (born 10 September 1960) is an English film, television, and stage actor.
Firth gained wide public attention in the 1990s for his portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the 1995 television adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his role in A Single Man, a performance that won him a BAFTA Award. At the 83rd Academy Awards in 2011, Firth won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of King George VI in The King's Speech, a performance that also earned him the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor.
Firth's other major film credits include The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, Bridget Jones's Diary, Mamma Mia! and Love Actually. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011.
Firth was born in Grayshott, Hampshire, United Kingdom. His mother, Shirley Jean (née Rolles), was a comparative religion lecturer at King Alfred's College Winchester (now the University of Winchester), and his father, David Norman Lewis Firth, was a history lecturer (also at King Alfred's) and education officer for the Nigerian Government. Firth has a sister, Kate, and a younger brother, Jonathan, who is also an actor. Firth's parents were raised in India, because his maternal grandparents, Congregationalist ministers, and his paternal grandfather, an Anglican priest, performed missionary work abroad. Firth spent part of his childhood in Nigeria, where his father was teaching. He lived in St. Louis, Missouri when he was 11. He later attended the Montgomery of Alamein Secondary School (now Kings' School), a state comprehensive school in Winchester, Hampshire, and then Barton Peveril College in Eastleigh, Hampshire. While in Kings' School, he wanted to play the guitar, but the school banned the guitar and saxophone, as they were "not serious instruments", and he was told to play the baritone euphonium instead. His acting training took place at the Drama Centre London.
In 1983, Firth starred as Guy Bennett the award-winning London stage production of Another Country. In 1984, he made his film debut in the screen adaptation of the play, taking the role of Tommy Judd (opposite Rupert Everett as Bennett). In 1986 he starred with Sir Laurence Olivier in Lost Empires, a TV adaptation of J. B. Priestley's novel, then in 1987 he appeared alongside Kenneth Branagh in the film version of J. L. Carr's A Month in the Country. In 1989, he played the title role in the film Valmont, and was co-lead in the film Apartment Zero. Firth and other young British actors who were becoming established film actors such as Tim Roth, Gary Oldman, Bruce Payne and Paul McGann were dubbed the 'Brit Pack'.
It was through the 1995 BBC television adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice that Firth gained wider renown. The serial was a major international success, and Firth gained heartthrob status because of his role as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. This performance also made him the object of affection for fictional journalist Bridget Jones (created by Helen Fielding), an interest which carried on into the two novels featuring the Jones character. In the second novel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, the character even meets Firth in Rome. As something of an in-joke, when the novels were adapted for the cinema, Firth was cast as Jones's love interest, Mark Darcy. Continuing this in-joke there was a dog called Mr Darcy in the film St. Trinian's which Firth's character accidentally kills.
Firth had a supporting role in The English Patient (1996) and since then has starred in films such as Fever Pitch (1997), Shakespeare in Love (1998), Relative Values (2000), Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), The Importance of Being Earnest (2002), Love Actually (2003), What a Girl Wants (2003), Hope Springs (2003), Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003), Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Nanny McPhee (2005), Where The Truth Lies (2005), Then She Found Me (2007) with Helen Hunt, The Last Legion (2007) with Aishwarya Rai, When Did You Last See Your Father? (2008), the film adaptation of Mamma Mia! (2008), and Easy Virtue, which screened at the Rome Film Festival to excellent reviews. In 2009, he starred in A Christmas Carol, an adaptation of Charles Dickens's novel A Christmas Carol using the performance capture procedure, playing Scrooge's optimistic nephew Fred, alongside Jim Carrey, who played Scrooge.
He has also appeared in several television productions, including Donovan Quick (an updated version of Don Quixote) (1999) and Conspiracy (2001), for which he received an Emmy nomination. Colin Firth's most recent role is in the Toronto International Film Festival debuted film, Genova.
At the 66th Venice International Film Festival in 2009, Colin Firth was awarded the Volpi Cup for Best Actor for his role in Tom Ford's A Single Man as a college professor grappling with solitude after his longtime partner dies. Fashion designer Tom Ford made his director's debut with this movie. This role has earned Firth career best reviews and Academy Award, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA, and BFCA nominations; he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in February 2010.
Firth starred in the 2010 film The King's Speech as Prince Albert, Duke of York/King George VI. The film details him working to overcome his speech impediment while becoming monarch of the United Kingdom at the outbreak of World War II. At the Toronto Film Festival, the film was met with a standing ovation. The TIFF release of The King's Speech fell on Colin's 50th birthday and was called the "best 50th birthday gift". On 16 January 2011, he won a Golden Globe for his performance in The King's Speech in the category of Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama. The Screen Actors Guild recognized Firth with the award for Best Male Actor for The King's Speech on 30 January 2011. In February 2011, he won the best actor award at the 2011 BAFTA awards. He received an Academy Award for Best Actor in a motion picture for The King's Speech on 27 February 2011.
Firth will appear in the 2012 adaptation of the John Le Carré novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, directed by Tomas Alfredson, also starring Ralph Fiennes, Gary Oldman, and Tom Hardy. He is in talks to join the cast of Park Chan Wook's Stoker.
Firth played William Shakespeare in a comedy special entitled Blackadder: Back & Forth. Edmund Blackadder runs into Firth's character while he is working on Macbeth, asks him to sign the script for him, and then punches him, saying "That is for every schoolboy and schoolgirl for the next 400 years!".
He was a guest host of Saturday Night Live in 2004 alongside musical guest Norah Jones.
Firth performed in theatre frequently between 1983 and 2000. He starred in Three Days of Rain as lead character Ned/Walker, as well as The Caretaker, Desire Under the Elms, and Chatsky.
He served as executive producer for the 2007 documentary produced by his wife, Livia Giuggioli, In Prison My Whole Life. The film questions the trial proceedings and evidence used against political activist and former Black Panther member, Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is on death row for the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer, Daniel Faulkner.
Firth is also a Jury Member for the digital studio Filmaka, a platform for undiscovered filmmakers to show their work to industry professionals.
Firth competed with Jeff Bridges for the Academy Award for Best Actor two consecutive years. Firth beat Bridges in 2011, a year after Bridges won for his performance in Crazy Heart.
On 13 January 2011, he was presented with the 2,429th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Firth's first published work, "The Department of Nothing", appeared in Speaking with the Angel (2000). This collection of short stories was edited by Nick Hornby and was published to benefit the TreeHouse Trust, in aid of autistic children. Firth had previously met Hornby during the filming of the original Fever Pitch. Colin Firth contributed with his writing for the book, We Are One: A Celebration of Tribal Peoples, released in 2009. The book explores the culture of peoples around the world, portraying both its diversity and facing threats. It counts with the contributions of many western writers, such as Laurens van der Post, Noam Chomsky, Claude Lévi-Strauss; and also indigenous peoples, such as Davi Kopenawa Yanomami and Roy Sesana. The royalties from the sale of this book go to the indigenous rights organisation, Survival International.
Firth resides in Chiswick, London. In 1989, he entered into a romantic relationship with actress Meg Tilly, his co-star in Valmont. In 1990, she gave birth to a son, William "Will" Joseph Firth, and they made their home near the Lower Mainland of B.C., Canada. Firth remains in contact with Will and with Tilly's other children, for whom he was a stepfather. In 1994, after he and Tilly had separated, Firth became involved with actress Jennifer Ehle, his co-star in Pride and Prejudice; the two eventually broke up. Firth is married to Italian film producer/director Livia Giuggioli and lives in both London and Italy. They have two sons, Luca (born March 2001) and Matteo (born August 2003). Apart from his native English, Firth speaks Italian fluently.
Firth has been involved in a campaign to stop the deportation of a group of asylum seekers, because he believed that they might be murdered on their return to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Firth argued that "To me it's just basic civilisation to help people. I find this incredibly painful to see how we dismiss the most desperate people in our society. It's easily done. It plays to the tabloids, to the Middle-England xenophobes. It just makes me furious. And all from a government we once had such high hopes for". As a result of the campaign, a Congolese nurse was given a last-minute reprieve from deportation.
Firth has been a long-standing supporter of Survival International, a non-governmental organisation that defends the rights of tribal peoples. Speaking in 2001, he said, "My interest in tribal peoples goes back many years... and I have supported ever since." In 2003, during the promotion of the movie Love Actually, he spoke in defense of the tribal people of Botswana, condemning the Botswana government's eviction of the Gana and Gwi Bushmen from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. He says of the Bushmen, "These people are not the remnants of a past era who need to be brought up to date. Those who are able to continue to live on the land that is rightfully theirs are facing the 21st century with a confidence that many of us in the so-called developed world can only envy."
Firth has also been involved in the Oxfam global campaign Make Trade Fair, in which several other celebrities participated as well in order to bring more attention to the issues involved. The campaign has focused on several trade practices seen as unfair to third world producers especially, including dumping, high import tariffs, and labour rights such as fair wages. Firth remains deeply committed to this cause, making efforts such as supporting fair trade coffee in his daily life, as he believes "f you're going to sustain commitment to any of this, ... ou've got to get involved on an ordinary every day basis." He has further contributed to this cause by opening (with a few collaborators) an eco-friendly shop in West London, Eco. The shop offers fair trade and eco-friendly goods, as well as expert advice on making spaces more energy efficient.
In October 2009 at the London Film Festival, Firth launched a film and political activism website, Brightwide.com, along with his wife Livia and a team headed by Paola De Leo, a former Director of Deutsche Bank and Head of the Global Major Donor Programme for Amnesty. In a 2006 interview with French magazine Madame Figaro, Firth was asked "Quelles sont les femmes de votre vie?" (Who are the women of your life?). Firth replied: "Ma mère, ma femme et Jane Austen" (My mother, my wife and Jane Austen). He was awarded an honorary degree on 19 October 2007 from the University of Winchester.
In early 2010, Firth announced his support for the Liberal Democrats, having previously been a Labour supporter, citing asylum and refugees' rights as a key reason for his change in affiliation. In December 2010, Firth retracted his support of the Liberal Democrats, citing their U-turn on tuition fees as one of the key reasons for his disillusionment. He clarified that while he no longer supports the Liberal Democrats, he is currently without affiliation.
Firth has performed songs in many of his films, the most recent being Mamma Mia! He performs the song "Lady Come Down" alongside Rupert Everett in The Importance of Being Earnest as well as one song in St. Trinian's with Everett which appeared in the credits, an adaptation of "Love Is in the Air".