Colin Firth gets naked for "A Single Man"

Tue Dec 8, 2009 6:02pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - For more than 20 years, Colin Firth has been the movie industry's go-to, buttoned-up English man.

But audiences have never seen him quite as emotionally (and physically) naked beneath that characteristic quiet restraint as in fashion designer Tom Ford's directing debut, "A Single Man."

Firth, 49, whose past roles include the awkward but alluring Mark Darcy in "Bridget Jones's Diary" and the diffident Jamie Bennett in "Love Actually", turns in what critics say is an Oscar-worthy role of a lifetime as a gay, 1960s British professor grieving over the loss of his lover.

"A Single Man", which has already brought Firth a best actor award at the Venice film festival, opens in limited release in the United States on Friday.

For Firth, the role of George making his way through the last day of a broken-hearted life he plans to end by suicide, was "an embarrassment of riches" -- and one that despite more than two decades in show business has rarely come his way.

"Despite this man's rather contained exterior, he experiences despair, lust, frivolity, anger, fear, wistfulness, regret, tenderness -- the list of emotions is extraordinary," the actor told Reuters.

"I can't remember when I was last carrying a film. To have a man's story entrusted to me has been very rare. It's in your hands. You have three wonderful co-stars, but basically George is yours for the day," he said.

Ford based the movie on Christopher Isherwood's 1964 novel of the same name and said he chose Firth for "his ability to telegraph what he's thinking through his eyes, almost without moving his face, and certainly without saying a line."   Continued...

<p>Actor Colin Firth poses for a picture in Beverly Hills November 5, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Redmond</p>