Colin Firth walks into a room, he fills it with his delightful
presence and charm. Having won every conceivable award for his riveting
performance as King George VI in "The King's Speech,"
one wondered could he shake off that strong association. Indeed he has
in his subsequent films that includes "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."
He does it again in his 360-degrees different character of Arthur
Newman in the film of the same name. Co-starring Emily Blunt,
the film explores the quest for life-changing decisions and takes the
viewer through that odyssey. Firth is a good-luck charm for in
addition to "The Kings Speech," two of his other pictures
have won the Academy Award for Best Picture "The
English Patient" and "Shakespeare in Love."
Photo Courtesy of Cinedigm
Colin Firth & Emily Blunt
Discuss "Arthur Newman," Obsessions
And Other Personal Revelations
Emily Blunt as Emily, assistant to Meryl Streeps
Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. Courtesy
Who could ever forget Emily Blunt's performance
as the bedraggled assistant to Meryl Streep's hard-hearted Miranda
in "The Devil Wears Prada" as well as her performances
in subsequent films including "The Young Victoria,"
"The Adjustment Bureau," "Salmon Fishing in
Yemen," "Your Sister's Sister," "The
Five-Year Engagement," and "Looper." Directed
by Dante Ariola, Blunt plays Michaela (Mike) who
hooks up with Colin Firth's character of Arthur Newman.
Firth and Blunt recently sat down with a select group
of journalists to discuss their latest film and the following has been
edited for content and continuity.
Is it easy to develop an American Accent?
Firth: No. But you focus on the character and that's
his voice. It's not negotiable after a while. It's who you hear and
it's not anybody else.
Did you go in and out during the shoot?
Blunt: We did unfortunately because we're both Brits.
Normally when I do an accent, for example when I did "Looper,"
I was working with this little boy so I kind of stayed in the accent
so he didn't get confused, but I didn't have a chance with Colin
because we're so completely British.
Firth: Your speech pattern changes. It's not unlike
working with a stutter in a way. It starts to find its way into your
speech. Again, everybody's stutter is different. It's not a generic
stutter. It's this particular guy and how he expresses himself.
Emily Blunt as Mike and Colin Firth
as Arthur Newman, two people trying to escape from their lives. Photo
Courtesy of Cinedigm
What did you find in the script that made you
want to play the character?
Firth: It had a lot of unknowns for me. I read it and
had a lot of questions. I liked the idea and was fascinated by the notion
of ordinariness or apparent ordinariness; people who you could dismiss
as ordinary or boring; people whose lives seem to be a series of disappointments
and the potential for drama in what seems to be an unremarkable quiet
life. That is something that I found fascinating heroism not written
on a big super hero stage.
Blunt: The script in general terms was just completely
refreshing in how original it was. It was pretty uncompromising actually
and didn't want to conform to being any genre or anything I could sum
up in a one-liner pitch, but I liked the idea of the more we mask ourselves,
maybe the freer we are able to be within ourselves. I think the idea
that at some point everyone wants to escape or run away or take on a
different identity is something we've all felt. I don't particularly
think that these characters are necessarily crazy. I think they are
just acting on that impulse. But, I just couldn't put my finger on quite
why I was so drawn to the script. I think that's quite a good way in
if you feel there's some ambiguity there to play with.
You have played a cross-section of characters.
Do you play them because you identify with them and can escape or because
you do it for a living, do you have less need to escape?
Blunt: We have less need to escape, I think, because
we do it all the time. We go away for a few months to a year and you
get to be someone else in this strange, insular nether-land like experience.
Firth: My challenge is how to get back to Kansas. (laughter)
Blunt: Dorothy. How do we get home? (laughter)
Former golf pro, Wallace Avery, now Arthur
Newman, gives Mike a brief golf lesson. Photo Courtesy
The Arthur character is supposed to be golf pro.
Is either of you avid golfers?
Firth: I have never watched a single golf swing in my
life so it was a foreign language to me.
Blunt: I like playing golf. I'm terrible. I'm really,
really bad, but I like whizzing around in the golf cart.
Firth: I have enough weaknesses without needing another
that's going to suck up my time. I've seen what's happened to friends
of mine getting lost in golf. (laughter) I've always been a little
bit of afraid that I would get lost.
Blunt: It's a bottomless pit. (laughs)
How did you prepare for that aspect of your role?
Firth: There's a driving school in London with
an indoor driving range. In the film, I didn't have to be seen playing
a whole game of golf. There were just a few swings so I tried to get
some lessons to see what that looks like. I never got further than hitting
a small object 300 yards. It sounds sweet when you hit it and
I could actually see that becoming an addiction. There is something
that happens. There's a thrill that runs through you when it works.
Is there a sport that you are obsessed with?
Firth: I watch a lot of football. Our football. And
yes, that could become an obsession. I actually had a season ticket
and use to go very regularly. I still do and take my kids three or four
times during the season. We live far away now. I don't know if it's
an obsession, but it's something I have strong feelings about off and
You're secret is safe.
Firth: I know. We're amongst friends. (laughter)
How do you approach developing characters who
are not actors but are acting out different characters?
Blunt: It's quite fun actually, acting other parts badly.
It wasn't that challenging because it wasn't like we were playing actors
who were really good in taking on these different personas. There was
awkwardness and a sweetness to it that was really fun.
Did either of you know people even close to these
Blunt: I grew up with someone like Mike.
Firth: I realized that I based my character entirely
on somebody. I don't think I realized it until towards the end that's
what was happening. That person doesn't know this.
Blunt: They'll never know because no one ever knows
themselves. That's what I'm convinced about.
Was this a close friend or a relative?
Blunt: A friend.
Does her name start with a "D?"
Blunt: D? (lots of laughter)
Firth: That's what the rest of the interview is going
to be about. (more laughter)
Blunt: Exactly. (more laughter) You wouldn't
know her but she was someone I grew up with.
At the end of the film Arthur has gone through
a transformation and also is dressing differently.
Firth: That was an immense relief. (laughter)
Blunt: As sexy as those salmon polo shirts were.
Firth: I have to say there was a sigh of relief on the
entire crew when I showed up with something that was not salmon or pink.
Blunt: And, you didn't have trousers hiked up to your
Firth: The trousers came down below the belly button.
Blunt: Oh they were so lame. I remember that first costume
fitting you had. You were like really is this embarrassing?
Firth: The costume goes a long way in forming the character.
Where do you think Arthur goes from there?
Firth: You mean after the end of the film?
Firth: It's interesting actually. One of the things
I like about the story is that question does come up. Could something
flourish? Will his son accept him? Will Mike's sister accept her? All
the issues they've been discussing throughout the film leave a lot of
Blunt: But I like that. Sometimes a tidy resolution
can be really unsatisfying. I think it's more exciting to just not know
Your characters only have sex when they are in
disguise. What do you think that's about?
Blunt: Because intimacy was terrifying to both of them
so I think they had to pretend to be other people in order to allow
one another to touch each other, to laugh together, to do anything that
resembled any kind of connection.
Firth on his characters behavior: He
feels uncomfortable, but badly needs sex. Photo
Courtesy of Cinedigm
Emily with husband John Krasinski at a local
supermarket. Courtesy Photo
Firth: They both have major issues and she doesn't want
to be touched, but if she's not Mike, then maybe there's another way.
Blunt: I think Mike desperately wants to be touched.
She just doesn't know how to.
Firth: And Arthur doesn't want to play this game.
He's rather Boy Scoutish, but he badly needs to break down a
few barriers and that's the beginning of the transformation for him.
He doesn't think he should be doing this. He feels uncomfortable but
he badly needs sex and just needs to be close to somebody so if this
is how it has to be, he'll do it. He finds out this is a way that makes
it easy, but obviously it's not sustainable.
When you're not working, do you like to cook a
lot at home?
Blunt: Yes. I do. Colin likes to cook out of
tins. That's how he makes dinner. (laughter) I really do love
Blunt: I'm quite good at Thai food, actually.
We just went to Thailand and I picked up some more tips. I like
cooking Italian food and Thai mainly.
Colin Firth in his award-winning role as King George
VI in The Kings Speech. Courtesy Photo
Colin Firth on the Red Carpet with his wife
Livia Giuggioi. Courtesy Photo
What was life like after winning the Oscar for
"The King's Speech?
Firth: The first thing I did after "The King's
Speech" was to take quite a lot of time off. I thought it would
be kind of nice to take six months of not doing this. Then there was
a whole thing about "temporary retirement" or he's going to
take a sabbatical. So I took almost a year out after "The Kings
What did you do during that year?
Firth: It was time to reconnect with the more permanent
aspects of my life.