(C) UK FILM COUNCIL / SPEAKING FILM PRODUC TIONS LIMI TED 2010. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
arts & entertainment
As King George VI, with Helena Bonham
Carter as his supportive wife, Queen
Elizabeth, Colin Firth struggles to overcome a devastating speech impediment.
Colin Firth’s Oscar-winning
portrayal of a tongue-tied king
By Ivor Davis
LAST YEAR, Colin Firth lost out to Jeff
Bridges in the Academy Awards contest for
Best Actor. This year, the tables were turned.
The British star carried off the gold statuette for his role in The King’s Speech. The
low-budget movie—by Hollywood standards
—has Firth playing Prince Albert Frederick
Arthur George, the man who would become
King George VI (the current queen of
England’s father), depicted as a shy lad with a
Along comes a quirky speech therapist
played by Geoffrey Rush, aided and abetted
by George’s wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham
Carter), and the stuttering royal dramatically
overcomes his handicap. After his father dies
and his older brother abdicates the throne,
Albert becomes king of England, and finds a
steady voice to inspire his country as they
march into World War II.
The 50-year-old Brit started out catching
eyes in several romantic-comedy roles,
including Mr. Darcy in the 1995 Pride and
Prejudice TV miniseries and love interest
Mark Darcy in the Bridget Jones movies.
Along the way he also starred in Mamma
Mia opposite Meryl Streep and Pierce
Brosnan, and in the very funny Love Actually.
He came whisper close to winning an Oscar
in 2010 for his role as the troubled gay academic in A Single Man, and he is currently
shooting a big-screen version of John Le
Carre’s spy novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
Yours truly caught up with Firth after his
ID: Are you now in the prime of your
career? Have you reached your stride?
CF: Well, it’s a great moment. If I keep
getting roles as good as this, I would like to
think it could be a stride. This is a profession
which notoriously trips you up. I felt there
were moments when I had my mojo, I just
didn’t have the scripts. I feel I’m at an age
which is making the stories interesting. I do
find it interesting to play characters where the
past counts. I’ve lived long enough to actually
have one now.
Ivor Davis: Can you elaborate on your
Colin Firth: This happens to be a man
revealed as vulnerable. It’s a story about one
man trying to reach another through those
barriers we put up. So let’s exaggerate those.
And make him royal.
ID: Can you analyze your career and
CF: I love working—the collaboration
and telling stories. Sometimes I’ve done movies I wouldn’t go and see. But some of them I
enjoyed immensely. And some of them were
“I hope this keeps me in the business long
enough to get the one I really want to do.”
ID: And isn’t he isolated from real life?
CF: He literally lives behind high walls. In
order to be greeted, you have to get through a
whole bunch of titles before you’re even
allowed to talk to the guy. He has to hold his
hand out first before you get to shake his
hand. So you’re building up all these protocols
that we hide behind on a daily basis. Universal
things that have been beefed up. And it’s a
ID: How have you made the choices?
CF: It feels like luck. It’s hard to analyze. I
must be doing something. C
As a foreign correspondent for the Daily
Express of London in the early 1960s, Ivor
Davis covered the Beatles and is the co-author
of Five to Die: The Book That Helped
ID: Were you familiar with the story?
CF: I knew that he existed and about the
abdication crisis. I had never watched any of
the dramas about it. I remember my mother
telling me that she had great sympathy for
him because of the stammer.
ID: So you started from scratch.
CF: Yes. I think it’s interesting to follow
what history might pronounce as the minor
characters offstage and see where they go. It
interests me, turning an ostensibly minor
character into a protagonist. Realizing they’re
not that minor at all. And also, I think, different versions of heroism. I like stories that
reflect on human virtues.
MAY 2011 ;e Costco Connection 61
The Costco Connection
The King’s Speech is available in DVD and
Blu-ray at most Costco locations.