Colin Firth Biography
Colin Andrew Firth is an British film, television and stage actor. Firth first gained wide public attention, especially in Britain, for his portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the highly acclaimed 1995 television adaption of Pride and Prejudice. He subsequently achieved film stardom with the international box-office success of Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), where he co-starred with Hugh Grant and Renée Zellweger.
Firth was born in Grayshott, Hampshire, UK, the son of Shirley Jean (née Rolles), a comparative religion lecturer, and David Norman Lewis Firth, a history lecturer and education officer for the Nigerian Government. Firth has a sister, Kate, and a younger brother, Jonathan, who is now also an actor. Firth's parents were born and raised in India, because his maternal grandparents, Congregationalist ministers, and his paternal grandfather, an Anglican priest, performed missionary work abroad. Firth's name is pronounced very similarly to the Old English word collenferhð, meaning pride. 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, a state comprehensive school in Winchester, Hampshire, and then Barton Peveril College in Eastleigh, Hampshire. His acting training took place at the Drama Centre in North London.
In 1983, Firth starred as Guy Bennett in 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 in Lost Empires with Sir Laurence Olivier, 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 novel, A Month in the Country. In 1989, he played the title role in the film Valmont.
Following these earlier roles, it was in the 1995 BBC television adaptation of Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice that Firth gained wider renown. The serial was a major international success, and Firth became known as a heartthrob because of his role as 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 (film) (2000), Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), The Importance of Being Earnest (2002), Love Actually (2003), What a Girl Wants (2003), Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003), Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Nanny McPhee (2005), The Last Legion with Aishwarya Rai (2007), When Did You Last See Your Father? (2008), the film adaptation of Mamma Mia! (2008) and most recently Easy Virtue which screened at the Rome Film Festival to excellent reviews. .
He has also appeared in recent 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..
Firth is also a Jury Member for the ongoing Filmaka amateur short film contest.
Colin played William Shakespeare in a comedy special entitled Blackadder Back & Forth. Edmund Blackadder runs into Colin's character while he is working on Macbeth and subsequently advises him to sign the script.
He was also a guest host of Saturday Night Live in 2004 alongside musical guest Norah Jones.
Colin 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 Chatkzy.
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.
In 1989, Firth entered into a romantic relationship with actress Meg Tilly his co-star in Valmont. In 1990, she gave birth to a son, Will Firth. In 1994, Firth was involved with actress Jennifer Ehle, his co-star in Pride and Prejudice. Firth lives in both London and Italy and is married to Italian film producer/director Livia Giuggioli. They have two sons, Luca (born March 2001) and Matteo (born August 2003).
Recently, Firth has been involved in a campaign to stop the deportation of a group of asylum seekers, because he believes that they may be murdered on their return to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Firth has 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 also been a long-standing supporter of Survival International, a charity which 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 a 2006 interview with French magazine Madame Figaro, Firth was asked "Quelles sont les femmes de votre vie?" (Who are the women in 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.
Firth has performed songs in many of his films, the most recent being Mamma Mia!. He performs 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".