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Colin Firth and Wife Photo: Thoughts on Censorship and Message Movies

Colin FirthColin Firth and wife Livia Giuggioli.

Colin Firth and wife Livia Giuggioli: Oscar Red Carpet

Colin Firth and wife Livia Giuggioli arrive at the 2011 Academy Awards on Feb. 27 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

For his performance as King George VI in Tom Hooper's critical and box office hit The King's Speech, Firth, as expected, took home the Best Actor Oscar. After receiving the statuette from the hands of Sandra Bullock, he remarked, “I have a feeling my career's just peaked.”

Could be. Firth, who turned 50 last Sept. 10, has been featured in more than 40 movies. Chiefly notable among these are (updated in April 2015):

  • Another Country (1984).
    Dir.: Marek Kanievska.
    Cast: Rupert Everett. Colin Firth.
  • Apartment Zero (1988).
    Dir.: Martin Donovan.
    Cast: Colin Firth. Hart Bochner. Dora Bryan.
  • Valmont (1989).
    Dir.: Milos Forman.
    Cast: Colin Firth. Annette Bening. Meg Tilly.
  • The English Patient (1996).
    Dir.: Anthony Minghella.
    Cast: Ralph Fiennes. Kristin Scott Thomas. Juliette Binoche. Colin Firth.
  • Shakespeare in Love (1998).
    Dir.: John Madden.
    Cast: Joseph Fiennes. Gwyneth Paltrow. Geoffrey Rush. Judi Dench. Tom Wilkinson. Colin Firth.
  • Bridges Jones' Diary (2001).
    Dir.: Sharon Maguire.
    Cast: Renée Zellweger. Colin Firth. Hugh Grant.
  • Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003).
    Dir.: Peter Webber.
    Cast: Colin Firth. Scarlett Johansson. Tom Wilkinson.
  • Mamma Mia! (2008).
    Dir.: Phyllida Lloyd.
    Cast: Meryl Streep. Amanda Seyfried. Pierce Brosnan. Dominic Cooper. Colin Firth. Julie Walters. Stellan Skarsgård. Christine Baranski.
  • A Single Man (2009).
    Dir.: Tom Ford.
    Cast: Colin Firth. Julianne Moore. Matthew Goode. Nicholas Hoult.
  • The King's Speech (2010).
    Dir.: Tom Hooper.
    Cast: Colin Firth. Geoffrey Rush. Helena Bonham Carter. Guy Pearce. Claire Bloom.
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011).
    Dir.: Tomas Alfredson.
    Cast: Gary Oldman. John Hurt. Colin Firth. Benedict Cumberbatch. Ciarán Hinds. Tom Hardy.
  • The Railway Man (2013).
    Dir.: Jonathan Teplitzky.
    Cast: Colin Firth. Nicole Kidman. Jeremy Irvine. Stellan Skarsgård.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014).
    Dir.: Matthew Vaughn.
    Cast: Colin Firth. Taron Egerton. Mark Strong. Jack Davenport. Mark Hamill. Michael Caine. Samuel L. Jackson.

Colin Firth and wife Livia Giuggioli photo: Darren Decker / © A.M.P.A.S.

Colin FirthColin Firth.

Pictured above is Best Actor winner Colin Firth backstage at the 2011 Academy Awards.

Firth's Oscar nomination for The King's Speech was his second. Last year, he was shortlisted for his portrayal of a grieving gay college professor in Tom Ford's A Single Man. He lost to Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart.

Coincidentally, Bridges was also in the running this year for Joel and Ethan Coen's Western True Grit, which ended up not winning any awards despite its ten nominations.

Colin Firth photo: Rick Slayer / © A.M.P.A.S.

Sandra Bullock, Colin FirthColin Firth and Sandra Bullock at the Academy Awards ceremony.

Colin Firth Oscar acceptance speech: Upper abdominal 'stirrings'

Colin Firth's Academy Award acceptance speech included a reference to “stirrings” located “somewhere in the upper abdominals which are threatening to form themselves into dance moves.”

Whether or not that meant Firth was in the throes of becoming possessed by the spirit of Fred Astaire and/or Ginger Rogers – or perhaps Jessie Matthews (like Firth, she was British) – will remain an Oscar mystery for the ages. After all, Firth didn't perform any tap dancing on stage, explaining that “joyous as [the stirrings] may be for me, it would be extremely problematic if they make it to my legs before I get off stage.”*

As the stirrings traveled through his body, he thanked the cast and crew of The King's Speech (“Geoffrey, Helena, and Guy, whose virtuosity made it very, very difficult for me to be as bad as I was planning to be”), in addition to screenwriter David Seidler, “whose own struggles have given so many people the benefit of his very beautiful voice,” and director Tom Hooper “for the immense courage and clear-sightedness with which he interpreted [the struggles of the film's main character].”

Harvey Weinstein's 'child sensation'

Besides thanking The King's Speech producers Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, and Gareth Unwin, Colin Firth also had a word for The Weinstein Company's Harvey Weinstein, “who first took me on 20 years ago when I was a mere child sensation” and for A Single Man director Tom Ford, “to whom I owe a very big piece of this.”

Besides Colin Firth, The King's Speech features Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce, and Claire Bloom. Sandra Bullock, last year's Best Actress winner for The Blind Side, handed Firth his Best Actor Oscar.

* While interviewed backstage at the Oscars, a reporter asked Firth, “You don't want to let loose?"

Firth replied:

No. I was struggling with the containment in that moment and I think I need some quality time alone. I don't think this is the particular forum to display that. Anyone having seen Mamma Mia! will know what I'm talking about.

Colin Firth Oscar acceptance speech text: Courtesy © A.M.P.A.S.

Sandra Bullock and Colin Firth photo: Michael Yada / © A.M.P.A.S.

Sandra Bullock, Colin Firth, Oscar 2011Colin Firth and Sandra Bullock at the Oscars.

Colin Firth interview backstage at Oscars 2011

Best Actor Oscar winner Colin Firth spoke to the media backstage on Sunday at the Kodak Theatre.

Topics worth mentioning – “journalists” asked several really, really, but really inane questions – included Tom Hooper's direction, Firth's belief that The King's Speech doesn't really have a message (even though it clearly does), and his discomfort with the PG-13-rated version of the film. Unfortunately, the at times quite outspoken Firth was reluctant to discuss the demise of the UK Film Council. See below.

Colin Firth on Tom Hooper's direction and the fact that he had to perform a key dramatic scene right at the start of filming The King's Speech:

… I think it was very good because I put both feet in and so did [Tom Hooper] and he committed to a style he wasn't quite sure about yet. He still had a few options open, but after we completed that day which could have ended up being about 10 percent of our entire film, he realized he had committed to a cinematographic style.

And I had committed to my approach and to be squeezed down in the corner of a sofa, and Tom kept telling me to shrink myself physically because I'm much bigger than George VI. He was very slight and he had a famous small disposition.

So Tom's note to me was, “Try to disappear as much as possible.” And I think that's partly why he put me on the edge of the big sofa and part of why he put me on the edge of the frame, surround[ing] me by what he thought was negative space. And I could feel all that going on and so it definitely informed what I did.

Regarding the message (or lack thereof) in The King's Speech:

I don't believe in messages in what I do. I don't think we're preachers. I don't think we're philosophers. I personally happen to be an annoyingly outspoken person, but that's not because I think the storytelling involves prescribing what people should think or hear …

… Quite obviously speech therapists and people who have difficulties with their speech of whatever kind, have responded to [The King's Speech], and that is very powerful to me to be on the receiving end of that kind of feedback because what we do is very often – it's justifiably judged as completely and utterly frivolous. …

But the fact is that it overlaps with something that has connected with or resonated with people who've, you know, feel they've been heard about something for the first time. … I don't think it sent a message. I just think maybe it shines a light on something which badly needed it.

Melissa Leo, Christian Bale, Colin Firth, Natalie PortmanColin Firth, Natalie Portman, Melissa Leo and Christian Bale.

'The King's Speech' PG-13 cut

Regarding the PG-13 cut of The King's Speech, which Colin Firth admits he hasn't seen, he affirmed: “I don't support it.”

When asked why not, his response was:

Because I think the film has its integrity as it stands. I think that scene [in which King George VI says the word “fuck” a few times] belongs where it is. I think it serves a purpose. I'm not someone who is casual about that kind of language I don't relish.

I take my children to see football games, soccer. And I wouldn't be able to, if I wanted to protect them from those kind of words at the expense of all else. …

… I don't take that stuff lightly. But the context of this film could not be more edifying, more appropriate. It's not vicious. It's not to do insult [and] it's not in any […] context which might offend people, really.

It's about a man trying to free himself through the use of forbidden words, and he's so coy about it. I mean, I just can't – I still haven't met the person who would object to it. So I think the film should stand as it is.

Regarding the demise of the UK Film Council thanks to David Cameron's Tory government:

Q. One of the reasons The King's Speech actually got made in the first place is that it got a 1 million-pound grant from the UK Film Council. That Film Council has obviously just been scrapped by the incoming government. What do you think your success tonight and the success of the film says about that decision?

A. I don't really want to get entangled in the political judgment on that. I tend to find that my rather insignificant opinions get more attention than they deserve, but I do think that on the face of it, that that was a short-sighted decision.

I do, however, think that the fact that the BFI seems to have taken up that role is very positive and I think that it was probably a sign that the government has recognized a need for a body like that … to find a way to get films financed with government cooperation. So I'm optimistic at the moment.

Sandra Bullock and Colin Firth photo: Michael Yada / © A.M.P.A.S.

Melissa Leo, Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, and Colin Firth photo: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) website.

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