Chris Sullivan discusses Colin Firth’s Golden Globe for The King’s Speech – and another Englishman whose public addresses have caused a bit of a sensation…
Colin Firth has nabbed himself a Golden Globe Best Actor Award for his role as King George VI in The King’s Speech, the tale of ‘Bertie’, the onetime Duke of York, who struggles to overcome his stammer with the help of unorthodox antipodean therapist Lionel Logue (superbly played by Geoffrey Rush) as events conspire to make Bertie King of England after his brother Edward VIII’s abdication.
And yes, it is a fine film that topped the UK box offices, grossing some £3.5m (€4.15m/US$5.6m) in its first weekend, although in my opinion it’s not all it’s cracked up to be and I’d wait for the DVD.
Having said that, Firth is brilliant: his portrayal of the stuttering monarch almost made me feel sorry for a man who never had to pay a bill, wonder where his next meal was coming from or even wash a dish!
I believe the reason Firth can engender such pity in the face of burgeoning reality is because he is such a nice chap who manages to convey great pathos with little more than a glance. I met with him while he was filming The King’s Speech.
'To play someone with a past gives me something I can get my teeth into' – Colin Firth
“I’ve noticed that, maybe because of my age, the roles I am offered are getting more complex and the stories are getting more interesting for me,” he remarked. “But I am 50 and things are getting better for me. To play someone with a past gives me something I can get my teeth into. When I was 25, I was very conscious of being featureless. I was very bland, just like your average 25-year-old, and used to look at these older actors and think that’s where I’d like to get. Obviously, I don’t relish deterioration, but there is a wealth of knowledge and experience, and hopefully wisdom, that one can draw on as an older man, which just isn’t there as a young man.”
Indeed, typically egoless, Firth in his Golden Globe acceptance speech said, “To get to this stage of your life with your dignity and judgement intact can be somewhat precarious. Sometimes all you need is a bit of gentle reassurance to keep you on track… but right now this is all that stands between me and a Harley-Davidson.”
Other people at the awards ceremony did not make so many friends. Presenter Ricky Gervais took the bull by the balls and berated all and sundry. The 49-year-old British comedian inferred that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association took bribes, saying that Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp were only nominated for The Tourist so that they would come to the ceremony (which might be true – because the film was hopeless). He introduced Bruce Willis as Ashton Kutcher's dad and called Hugh Hefner “the walking dead”.
Still it wasn’t all bad. He had a go at the relentlessly humourless Robert Downey Jnr, saying: “Many of you probably know him from such facilities as the Betty Ford Clinic and Los Angeles County Jail.” The Iron Man star replied: “Aside from the fact it’s been mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones, the vibe of the show is pretty good.”
Backstage, he added: “It’s great to be funny, but it’s better if you can do it without hurting people.” Thin-skinned, some of these Hollywood types.
'Gervais later said that he wouldn’t be presenting next year’s ceremony…'
In reference to the nominated film, I Love You Phillip Morris, Gervais joked: “Two heterosexual actors, Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, pretending to be gay… so, the complete opposite of a couple of famous Scientologists – probably!”
He added: “My lawyers helped me with the wording of that joke.” The camera subsequently panned through the crowd to catch Robert De Niro and Alec Baldwin spluttering with laughter. The subsequent markedly long absence of Gervais followed by a subdued later performance suggested he’d been rapped on the knuckles for the comments, and Gervais later said that he wouldn’t be presenting next year’s ceremony…
The night’s big winner was director David Fincher’s excellent The Social Network, the story of Facebook and its disconnected and socially inept founder Mark Zuckerberg, which pulled in Best Director, Best Film, Best Original Screenplay for Aaron ‘The West Wing’ Sorkin and Best Score for Nine Inch Nails main man Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
Other well-deserved awards went to Toy Story 3 for Best Animated Film and Christian Bale for Best Supporting Actor in The Fighter, with Best Supporting Actress going to co-star Melissa Leo who plays his crazy, domineering mum in the film.
- More from Chris Sullivan’s Popcorn Diaries on The King's Speech
- Read another recent Chris Sullivan interview with Colin Firth
- The Must-See Films of 2011 Part One and Part Two