Academy Award winner Colin Firth has made a name for himself through continuously being earnest and professional in the myriad projects that he’s worked on throughout his career. Now in his mid-50s, he may no longer be the heartthrob of his earlier days, but that hasn’t diminished his success one bit. Firth has used his superior acting chops, charming demeanor, and contagious levelheadedness to remain among the biggest names in the movie industry. eniGma Magazine spoke to the British superstar about the making of his latest movie, Bridget Jones’s Baby, the third installment of that well-loved story, and what it was like to work again in a comedy alongside Renée Zellweger.
With over 30 years of leading man experience under his belt, Firth is one of the most established actors in the world. His movies have grossed over three billion dollars worldwide, one of the highest figures in movie history. For his dazzling array of formidable portrayals, he’s garnered over 50 award nominations, including winning the 2010 Golden Globe and Academy awards for his unforgettable account of King George VI in The King’s Speech.
This year, he’s decided to once again return to his bread and butter as the lead in a major romantic comedy. Based on Jane Austin’s iconic Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones’s Baby will have Firth reprise his role as Mark Darcy, an intelligent millionaire who’s clearly in love with Zellweger’s Bridget Jones. The film will be the third installment in the beloved movie franchise, after a 12 year hiatus. Speaking of the project, Firth was very effusive in his praise of the entire cast, and seemed to truly relish the opportunity to flex his acting muscles in a comedic setting after a spate of more serious performances.
Bridget Jones’s Baby is distributed in Egypt by Four Stars Films Egypt. It’s available in cinemas across the country starting from the 21st of September.
Do you feel like the characters have changed since the last Bridget Jones movie?
Before we started shooting, one of the things that took me by surprise was how much goodwill there was towards the film. I think if we had just tried to squeeze another movie out immediately after the last one, it would’ve looked like a factory. That wasn’t the case for us, though; the 15 year period between films gave us a credible purpose and direction throughout the process. All the characters have aged over that time frame, and the audience is fully aware of their past. In many ways, that gave us a lot to play with. For instance, if Mark walks into a room and sees Bridget, we didn’t have to explain to the audience that there’s a history there, as we would in most films.
You’ve played Mark Darcy three times now; do you have a certain fondness for him as a character?
I’m not one to carry that around to be honest. I had played him, but really forgotten about him up to our shooting. It’s just another job and role to me. I know it kept coming back, but I think that has more to do with other people’s interests than mine. I am happy to do it again; but no there isn’t some sort of special or personal investment which I carry with me. So when this came up again, I actually had to go back and check the other films just to see what it was all about. I had to be really diligent because I was aware that a lot of people had an investment in this, and some even probably knew more about it than I did and had seen it more recently. I don’t assume that hundreds of people are taking this character to their hearts, but I know there are people out there who have seen the film more than once and love it immensely. So I just thought, ‘I better remember how he looks and sounds like.’ As an actor, I don’t usually go over my old work once it’s done. And that’s not just with Bridget Jones. It’s just that I enjoy moving onto other things. It’s not the world’s greatest challenge to play a character you played a billion times. I think I have a knack of making the easy look difficult.
Sharon Maguire is back as director this time. Does she bring something slightly different to the films, since she helped start it all off?
It did seem to make sense to get as many members of the old band back together and to have Sharon, who was there at the start. She goes back much further than any of us. Her knowledge of the source material is so immense, that you could actually confuse her for being a character out of the books herself! She is about as close to the source as you can get really as a director. She has a passion for the project and is very, very personally invested. Contrary to what most people think, comedy doesn’t come out of a writer’s room where people continuously spin different gags. You need directors who are worth their salt in comedy, someone that would follow a disciplined principle. You might want to think out the jokes as you go, but frankly, what makes us laugh is largely situational. Unless you’re following, investing in, and focusing on the story’s flow, you’re simply not going to make the audience laugh. I think that Sharon did a great job of adhering to her plan and letting the comedy be the by-product of situations, rather than have it be the sole purpose behind proceedings.
From the looks of things, this seems like a fun, relaxed shoot. Did you feel like that was the case?
Oh absolutely! I mean, one almost feels guilty. The only small drawback of the project is that making comedy can often make you anxious. I think anybody who has been involved in theatre or film will actually tell you that comedy is the hardest genre to work in. It’s often the least rewarded as well. Very few comedies have ever won Best Picture at the Academy awards for instance. In essence, because comedies seemingly ask people to not take them seriously, they’re generally not respected as much as other films. They tend to not be celebrated nor categorized as high art, unless they’re kind of high cultured and sophisticated.
The genre, though, is just devilishly tricky because its margin for error is absolutely minute. If you miss by a millimeter in comedy, you miss your opportunity and you’re treated like a flop. It’s terribly hard to judge too. You might get a laugh out of a joke on the first try, but we know that it might not resonate with people on a wider scale. What’s more, in comedy films, people always expect the other shoe to drop, so everything that you do has to be done with real precision. Comedy is extremely dependent on spontaneity and needs to have elements of surprise and misdirection embedded in it.
How was it like to work with Renée again?
It was lovely. We’ve kept in touch throughout the years, but haven’t seen a great deal of each other. I was just delighted to be around her again. She brings something to every room that she walks into, and is always energizing everybody around her by her mere presence. It was great to find her in such wonderful form, both as a person and as a coworker. She had that relentless cheerfulness and she seemed to be so game for everything. I found her performance to be equally alive as well. The thing that I was scared of for myself was thinking ‘are we going back just to do a parody of ourselves; are we just aping something from the past?’ It felt incredible at the moment for me to just look at Renée Zellweger and know that she’s not doing that at all. Everything that she did was incredibly fresh and present, making me feel considerably more optimistic about what we were doing.