‘I may wear a hat in my next leading role as Rick Blaine in the remake of Casablanca’, TV’s Mr D’Arcy tells Mark Kermode in an interview about the long journey that began with an unforgettable adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, ‘and probably a raincoat too.’
Kermode said it was ‘just terrific’ how in A Single Man, Colin ‘doesn’t do the emoting, the rambling and shambling behaviour that some actors might employ to portray a bereaved man facing the last day of his life’, and asked Colin what his secret was.
Colin said it was his approach to method acting. ‘Some people spend days, weeks even, getting inside a character, getting under his skin, working out how he thinks, what makes him tick. My secret is that I get outside the character. Take my character in A Single Man: it’s the big glasses that draw you in, make George’s anguish believable. Anything else just detracts from the experience.’
Kermode agreed that it was pointless trying to do too much with one of the best and most distinctive voices in film, and asked Colin how he had mastered some of his other roles. ‘Well, for Bridget Jones it was the funny Christmas jumper which really established the character, and then later on the fitted Savile Row suit brought home to you just what an important international lawyer Mark Darcy really was.
‘And in Fever Pitch, a scruffy track suit instantly transformed me into personable English teacher and football fan Paul Ashworth without my having to modulate my charming tones. And then of course there was that wet shirt, which set me on my way.’
Winding up, Kermode gives Colin a hat and a raincoat to wear and asks him to repeat the line, ‘Here’s looking at you, kid’, before saying: ‘Spellbinding Colin. To listeners on the radio that was Colin Firth, but for those of us that could see you in hat and raincoat, that was Rick Blaine in the flesh. Spine tingling.’