LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After winning a Best Actor Oscar for playing a stuttering British royal in 2010 film “The King’s Speech,” Colin Firth is back on screen as a character who appears ordinary to the point of boring in indie drama “Arthur Newman.”
Opening in select U.S. movie theaters on Friday, Firth plays an American man who is dissatisfied with his life and hits the road with a new identity. Things get derailed when he meets Mike (Emily Blunt) a troubled young woman fleeing from her own issues.
Firth, 52, sat down with Reuters to talk about the film and life after his first Oscar win, and the (dimming) prospects of a third “Bridget Jones’ Diary” movie.
Q: What made you follow up an Academy Award win with a little indie like “Arthur Newman?”
A: At the time, the title of the film was “Arthur Newman Golf Pro” and I found it so off-putting, it perversely made me more intrigued. I thought by putting ‘golf’ in the title, the film wouldn’t be exactly marketable.
Q: How’s that?
A: If you don’t like golf, you won’t go to see the film. And if you like golf, you’re going to be disappointed because it’s not about golf. It was almost provocative in how willfully unmarketable it was, so I wanted to see what was inside.
Q: And what did you find?
A: A man who seemed steeped in ordinariness. In fact, he’s pronounced to be boring by several characters in the movie. So yes, he really is incredibly boring and that intrigued me. It always has. What is actually going on? What are the dynamics behind somebody languishing in a disappointing suburban life? What heroism is possible?
Q: How do you play someone like that? Where do you look to find a common thread?
A: We trap ourselves in all sorts of ways, however unusual or extraordinary our existence might seem from the outside. There are all kinds of ways in which we find ourselves on a treadmill.
If people dare to test the boundaries and step outside, it’s often characterized as running away from problems. But you can’t look at it that way. In Arthur Newman’s case, in some ways he was probably running in to something that was more awake and more authentic.
Q: You can’t possibly have any hint of dissatisfaction after winning an Oscar, can you?
A: That’s not true, because you’ve got the rest of your tasks ahead of you. Of course there’s immense reassurance (in having an Oscar) and it does give you a license for a certain freedom to do what you want and not have to prove something.
Q: Did you find that things changed for you after you won?
A: Not quickly. In some ways it’s happening now....An Oscar doesn’t suddenly work the miracle that manufactures a plethora of great writers who are suddenly ready to come to you with fully financed films, with the right director attached, landing on your table, saying: Take your pick. It’s not as coherent as that.
Q: Have you been able to use the Oscar to your advantage?
A: Yes. It definitely opens doors. There are ways in. If you want to reach somebody to get the collaboration on something, they’ll talk to you. That’s a very powerful difference I’ve noticed.
Q: Do you like that?
A: Yeah, I do. It’s useful. I think that’s probably the healthiest way to look at it, rather than have something that gets preserved on a shelf. Take it and use it as a tool. Then it has meaning rather than just something to look back on. You can’t live on one moment. And you can’t allow either a crisis or a triumph to be the only thing that defines you.
Q: You have a lot of films on your plate due this year and next: Atom Egoyan’s “Devil’s Knot” and two back-to-back films with Nicole Kidman. What’s the status on the sequel to “Bridget Jones’ Diary?”
A: We’ve been teasing people a little bit because there have been plans but they’re on ice now.
Q: Are you disappointed?
A: Not in the abstract. I don’t spend my life thinking, “I hope there’s another ‘Bridget Jones.’” I like the character and I like the story. I think (author-screenwriter) Helen Fielding is a wonderful writer. Where she began to take it in this next stage now that we’re all older is actually more interesting than it was in some ways back then. So if there’s a good story and a good script, I’ll think about it on that basis.
Reporting By Zorianna Kit, editing by Jill Serjeant and Cynthia Osterman