Frazer Harrison / Staff/Getty Images
Colin Firth received the Volpi Cup for Best Actor for his role in A Single Man at the 66th Venice International Film Festival.
Colin Firth received the Volpi Cup for Best Actor for his role in A Single Man at the 66th Venice International Film Festival. Frazer Harrison / Staff/Getty Images
This interview was originally broadcast on February 3, 2010. 'A Single Man' was released on DVD July 6, 2010.
Colin Firth played Mr. Darcy in the BBC's Pride and Prejudice and Mr. Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones's Diary, but it was his role as a gay British professor in Tom Ford's A Single Man that generated an Oscar nomination for the stage, screen and television actor.
Fresh Air film critic David Edelstein, called Firth's work in A Single Man the 'performance of the year.' The movie is set in 1962 and is adapted from a novel by Christopher Isherwood, who is best known for writing The Berlin Stories, which was the basis for the musical and film Cabaret. A Single Man is the directorial debut of fashion designer Tom Ford.
Firth plays George Falconer, a professor struggling to survive after the accidental death of his longtime partner, played by Matthew Goode. Set in 1962, around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the movie follows George over a single day as he contemplates his bleak, monotonous future.
"He has to get through a particular day, and he has to put something in place which is a both a protective mask," Firth explains to Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "In other words, it's something that prevents the rest of the world from seeing how broken he is and how chaotic his true world is, and at the same time, this has to act as a protection against the world trying to come in on him from the outside world, penetrating his very, very vulnerable sensibility."
Firth has also starred in Love Actually, Girl With a Pearl Earring, Valmont, The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, and Fever Pitch.