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Colin Firth leaves the romantic comedies behind

November 25, 2010 | 10:35 am


He's been the thinking-woman's heartthrob since he played Mr. Darcy in the BBC "Pride and Prejudice" back in the mid-1990s. But as costar of such movies as "Bridget Jones's Diary" and "Love Actually," Firth has been mainly absent  from serious roles, at least here in the U.S., until last year, when he earned raves in the grieving-spouse drama "A Single Man."

Firth establishes his serious-actor bona fides in an even bigger way when he stars as a 1930s-era monarch in the crowd-pleasing royals drama "The King's Speech," which opens in Los Angeles and several other cities around the country this Thanksgiving weekend.

In our story about him in in today's Times, Firth offers a wry take on some of the recent reactions to him. "Someone asked me this morning [about my acting]: 'Did you get better?'" he said with a slight laugh. "I've just carried on doing what it says in the manual."

Saying he felt more comfortable in dramas than comedies, Firth, 50, wants to continue along the path he's recently started down. But it's at least a small point of frustration that these kinds of parts aren't always available. "If I can get a role as good as these last two, I'm all over it," he told us. "I haven't seen it yet. What do I do about that? Do I write it?  I'm afraid there's not much I can do."

The acclaim for "The King's Speech" certainly will help his cause, as will his easygoing likability. After we met with him in New York on Monday, he continued the charm offensive with appearances on "The Late Show With David Letterman" and "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon," showing in both the low-key wit that could well put him over the top with academy voters in this year's best actor race.

That charm is a far cry from his character in his new film, in which Firth plays a stuttering Duke of York who must learn to overcome both his handicap and the repression that created it. Despite the movie's focus on the monarchy, though, Firth confesses he never read a book about the royals until he started the film. It's always been rock stars, he says, that have fascinated him.

“Laughable as it might sound given the persona I tend to be associated with," Firth said,  "I'm one of the millions of Englishmen of my generation who wanted to be Keith Richards."

-- Steven Zeitchik



Photo; COlin Firth with Helena Bonham Carter and director Tom Hooper at "The King's Speech" premiere. Credit: Stuart Raimson /Associated Press

Colin Firth's royal pains