|Evening News - Scotland Saturday,
September 9, 2000
Firth among equals
WITH his tousled hair and impeccable English accent, he's the image of the actor best known to millions of television viewers as dashing Mr Darcy from the BBC adaptation of Pride And Prejudice. But at a second glance you realise that the handsome actor sitting in the London restaurant is not Colin Firth but his younger brother Jonathan - and he's busy cutting out a successful acting career in his own right.
Next week the 33-year-old actor can be seen in the two-part BBC drama A Likeness In Stone, playing Stephen Gilmore - the chief suspect in a ten-year-old unsolved police case involving the disappearance of a female student.
"The show starts with the discovery of a body and really deals with the after effects of this event, even though it is years after the girl died," explains Firth. "It really is a psychological drama looking at how the incident has affected the three people who knew her the best."
Firth already knew one of his co-stars in the production, This Life actor Andrew Lincoln, and had also earlier worked with Cherie Lunghi on an American production. "It was set in medieval times and was a bit like Robin Hood," he says looking slightly sheepish. "I don't know what it is about Robin Hood but as soon as you mention it people start taking the mickey out of you.
"But although he seems to be following in his brother's footsteps, Firth believes his achievements have been on his own merit.
"There is always this presumption that I've been riding on Colin's coat-tails," he admits. "There's this notion that I must have thought it all looks easy and I'll have a piece of it."
And Firth, who lives in Islington, north London, says that all the hype which surrounded his brother's role in Pride And Prejudice had no effect on him - because at the time he was working in another part of the world. "I was on tour with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Colin was in Venezuela when Pride And Prejudice was screened so we both missed out on all the things which went on around the show.
"But when Colin came back I think it was very easy for him to book tables in restaurants for about a year. After that it went back to normal - that's the currency of show business."
Born in Essex, Firth's desire to be an actor did not come from his elder brother but from performing in a school play when he was 11 years old.
"It was the most exciting thing I've ever done," he reveals. "I was hopeless at sport, but this was something I was really good at."
There were seven years between the two brothers so Firth never felt any sibling rivalry. "It's only as we've got older that we've become closer," he says.
Firth did not set foot on the stage again until he went to sixth form college and by then he knew he wanted to act as a career. "I never wanted to do anything else," he admits.
This must have come as something of a shock to his academic parents. His father was a lecturer in American History at Winchester College Of Higher Education, while his mother lectured in psychology at Surrey University.
Yet all their three children, including sister Kate, only ever wanted to act.
"They were bewildered by the fact that none of their children wanted an academic career," he says.
"It was Colin's fault - he started it. He went to drama school, not as a career but as something to do. After that we became actors by default.
"But by getting work and making a success of things, Colin showed our parents that it could be done and that made it easier for me to persuade them. Even if he had been a disaster it wouldn't have put me off.
"I had very few expectations anyway. I saw going to drama school as a way of continuing something I enjoyed, but I had no ambitions beyond doing some rep and being a spear carrier."
He admits that he is less than proud of some of his previous work.
"The problem is that it's really difficult to tell how something is going to work out until you see the finished piece," says Firth. "There are times when I have been working on something and thinking to myself: 'How did I get into this?' "Then it's turned out to be good and there have been times when I have thought something was pretty damn good and it has ended up being awful."
Although he has been successful in his own right, Firth would not like all the attention which his elder brother has attracted.
"When Colin did Pride And Prejudice he had people following him into restaurants and other public places to get a look at him," he says. "I've seen the price of success and I really don't want that."
A Likeness In Stone is on BBC1, Monday
and Tuesday at 9.30pm. (Thanks, Anne R.)
Firth ImpressionsPlaying a rich boy at Oxford brought back very
different memories for Jonathan Firth.
not forgotten,secrets resurface when the body of a woman is discovered
at the bottom of
Oxford student Helena Warner (Rebecca Palmer) went missing in 1990 after a raucous party at the home of her college pal Richard Kirschman ( Andrew Lincoln).
And Bill Armstrong (Liam Cunningham),the policeman in charge of the investigation,was convinced her boyfriend Steve Gilmore (JF) was responsible.He also believed Kirschman and Helena's best friend,Joan Poole(Ruth Jones),colluded to protect him,but he could never prove it.Finding the body causes shockwaves in all their lives.
'Steve can't get on with his life,'explains JF.'He was a carefree,bright and quite spoilt student with a path laid out for him.Now he's a broken man.There's a relief when the body is discovered,because he can'tgo on that way. It's a living death. Whatever happens,atleast he'll get out of the rut he's in..'
But is he a murderer?
'I'm not about to give the game away,'Firth laughs 'But I'll admit Steve's in the frame.He's a nice guy, but when he feels he's been betrayed or rejected he can react very aggressively,particularly with women.'
brought back memories of Firth's own time as an undergraduate at London's
Central School For Speech and Drama in the late eighties- alongside Graham
Norton,Caroline Harker and Rufus Sewell.
However,one thing Firth isn't in a hurry to experience a second time is appalling student accommodation.
'I was in disgusting digs,'he grimaces.'I briefly shared a flat in my first year with Rufus and that was the worst.A classic cowboy job.There was a crappy cooker where only one ring worked,the oven didn't work at all and the grill was either maximum or nothing.There was no way of switching the hot water on without the heating,so if you wanted a bath in August...it was insane.And if it rained,slugs came in. It was pretty foul.
OK! Issue #230 9-15 Sep 2000
Anyone who was seduced by Colin Firth's smouldering Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice is set to fall in love again on Monday night, this time with his equally handsome younger brother, Jonathan. He talks to freetime about nudity, romance and how it feels to playa murder suspect
He's melted hearts as the dashing hero Troy in Far From The Madding Crowd and romped naked with British actress Emily Mortimer in Midsomer Murders. Now Jonathan Firth, younger brother of Colin Firth, who starred as Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, is set to show his nastier side in a new role. Jonathan, 33, will hit our screens this Monday in a spine-chilling two-part thriller, A Likeness in Stone. Jonathan plays murder suspect Stephen Gilmore, who is haunted by the mysterious death of his girlfriend, Helena. When her body is discovered ten years later, a potent mix of jealousy, obsessive love and long-buried secrets is unleashed, culminating in a shocking climax.
What is your opinion of A Likeness
in Stone now it's finished?
Was the role of Stephen Gilmore
Do you find nudity quite difficult?
Far From the Madding Crowd is
widely viewed as your big break. Did it change your life?
Are you ever tempted to make the
move to Hollywood?
Why did you want to become an
Were your parents happy about
your choice of career?
What was your childhood like?
Has having a famous older brother
helped or hindered your career?
Is there any sibling rivalry between
you and Colin?
Are you close?
Are you single at the moment?
What sort of woman would you say
you are looking for?
Are you looking for marriage and
kids in the future?
What sort of work do you want
to do in the future?
Would you ever like to work with
PHOTOGRAPHS: Stay Still, BBC
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