In my last blog, I admitted unabashedly that I’m a Colin Firth fan. I’ve seen most of his films, and quite a few several times! I admire his versatility, his range and the combination of subtlety and depth that he brings to his characters. He has the ability to convey intense emotion with the subtlest of facial expression, body movement or change in demeanor, engendering empathy in the viewer and making us forget he is acting.
So, reading Mia March’s book, Finding Colin Firth, was a no-brainer. As I bought the book and considered all the fans who would undoubtedly also be purchasing it, I wondered: What is it that makes an actor have such universal appeal? I had the thought that Colin Firth was this generation’s Cary Grant, only to read those same words later that evening in Ms. March’s book: “For me, Colin Firth all the way. He’s our generation’s Cary Grant – that swoon-worthy older actor, tall, dark and handsome, debonair but still very masculine and completely epitomizing everything a woman wants in a lifetime partner.”
I thoroughly enjoyed Finding Colin Firth, much as I did Ms. March’s earlier book, The Meryl Streep Movie Club. It was fun to revisit the setting and characters from the first book in the second. I also appreciated Ms. March’s themes of women’s issues and relationships in both books as well as the premise that “a movie can take you right out of yourself for a couple of hours.” I loved the quote that a Meryl Streep movie is “as good as a chicken soup, a best friend, a therapist, and a stiff drink.” Movies are like books in that way; they tell stories we can relate to and in which we can find comfort and understanding.
But Finding Colin Firth also led me to reflect on what it would be like to be someone like Colin Firth or Meryl Streep or any number of other gifted actors. I thought about the fantasies and projections that people have and the impact that has on the actors. Ms. March has a quote from Colin Firth at the beginning of the book: “I’m fully aware that if I were to change professions tomorrow, become an astronaut and be the first man to land on Mars, the headlines in the newspapers would read: ‘Mr. Darcy Lands on Mars’.”
I’m not sure how true that is. While I can’t imagine anyone else playing Mr. Darcy, I associate Mr. Firth strongly with many of his roles, not solely his Pride and Prejudice character. But it illustrates the strange world celebrities inhabit. A scene from the movie Notting Hill comes to mind. Julia Roberts’ character, Anna Scott (a famous actress) is confronting Hugh Grant’s character, Will Thatcher (a bookstore owner and her love interest) and says: “The fame thing isn’t really real, you know…Don’t forget, I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”
I know. It’s just a movie. And that was a classic rom-com movie line. But there is truth in it. These actors we idolize are just people. Talented people for the most part, but fellow human beings nonetheless. And through their work they inspire, comfort and entertain us.
But I digress. This isn’t a movie blog, although I’d love to do that as well! Movies are high on my list of favorite things. And as much as I would love to shake Colin Firth’s hand and say “Well done,” I will return to the subject of books and say “Well done!” to Mia March for her enjoyable, touching, and thoughtful stories.
And I’ll ask you, to what author would you like to say “Well done” and why?