Colin Firth says 'rather restrained' characters can be most powerful

Never underestimate the power of playing "a rather restrained man in a suit", Oscar winner Colin Firth said Tuesday as he presented a well-received biopic about a legendary American literary editor.

See Full Article

"Genius", which drew warm applause at the Berlin film festival, tells the story of Max Perkins, who worked with some of the 20th century's greatest authors including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe.

The picture stars British actors Firth and Jude Law playing the taciturn Perkins and the exuberant Wolfe, in a partnership that required the editor to harness and tame the writer's raw unvarnished talent.

Firth and Law said the script gave them a chance to generate sparks as two polar opposites whose collaboration made Wolfe one of the most admired novelists of his generation. Their joint creative output left the "genius" designation of the title up for grabs.

"One of the biggest challenges was in really celebrating and bringing to life the speed of thought with which these two great men converse," said Law, who adopts a broad Carolina accent for the role.

"The rhythm and the music that was to be found between these two men was very much a part of making their intellectual abilities clear. (There was a) staccato rat-tat-tat between us."

Firth in a mankini?

Firth, who won an Academy Award for his role as George VI in "The King's Speech", admitted that he was often the go-to actor for buttoned-up repressed types.

"It's not the first time I've played a rather restrained man in a suit," he said with a sly smile.

"I just get asked to play them. The suit is the costume, I put it on. If someone wants me to wear a mankini in a film, I am available. If anybody wants to free me from restraint... I am ready to burst out of a cake," he joked.

But he said that beneath the apparently still waters there were often rich depths to plumb as an actor.

"You'd be surprised how much variation I think I can find within the confines of a suit," he said.

"I find repression really interesting because I think there's an awful lot going on inside there. And I think mystery is fascinating in all art forms. The more we're left to guess at, the more that's left out, the more that's left unexpressed.

"Probably it is my fascination with that that led me to be such a consistent wearer of suits."

Rampant exhibitionism

Firth said that playing an editor meant being an unsung hero behind the scenes, a refreshingly old-fashioned concept in an age of hyper-exposure on social media.

"He was someone whose eye and ear were so finally tuned, his judgement and his integrity were so intact and yet he didn't want any credit whatsoever, his instinct was to remain invisible, particularly in an era where we are all clamouring to be visible," he said.

"There's a kind of rampant exhibitionism (now)."

Perkins cultivated strong personal relationships with his authors, who were often conflicted figures plagued by addictions, unhappy love affairs and writer's block.

Wolfe had a long and tumultuous liaison with an older married woman, theatre set designer Aline Bernstein, played by Nicole Kidman, who basks in his creativity but suffers when he periodically strays.

Perkins tries to coddle and cajole his writers including Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce) and Hemingway (Dominic West) toward greater output, serving as a stern father figure and an endlessly patient curator of his clients' best work.

"He was not a proofreader," Firth said.

"He wanted to preserve the integrity of books. Rather than an anal act of manual labour, just cleaning up text, it's a much more creative process."

"Genius", the debut feature by British theatre director Michael Grandage, is one of 18 films from around the world competing for the Golden Bear top prize at the Berlin film festival, to be awarded by a jury led by Meryl Streep on Saturday.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Sam Moore to sing at Trump inaugural event

    Entertainment CTV News
    NASHVILLE -- Sam Moore of the soul duo Sam and Dave has been added to the list of performers for President-elect Donald Trump's inaugural events. Moore told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he felt that the criticism levelled at singer Jennifer Holliday, which led to her to back out of the event, was unfair. Source
  • Police: Man posed as Bieber online to extort nude photos

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A Massachusetts man was arrested on suspicion of soliciting nude photos from a 9-year-old California girl while posing online as Justin Bieber, authorities said Tuesday. Bryan Asrary was taken into custody Dec. Source
  • Man posed as Justin Bieber online to extort nude photos: police

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A Massachusetts man was arrested on suspicion of soliciting nude photos from a 9-year-old California girl while posing online as Justin Bieber, authorities said Tuesday. Bryan Asrary was taken into custody Dec. Source
  • 'He's got a big mouth, like me:' Soul singer Sam Moore signs on for Trump inauguration concert

    Entertainment CBC News
    Sam Moore of the soul duo Sam and Dave has been added to the list of performers for President-elect Donald Trump's inaugural events. Moore told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he felt that the criticism levelled at singer Jennifer Holliday, which led to her to back out of the event, was unfair. Source
  • 'Heyyyyy!' Critch and Chachi bring their Twitter battle to 22 Minutes

    Entertainment CBC News
    St John's comedian Mark Critch and Happy Days star Scott Baio will try and put their twitter feud behind them on tonight's episode of CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes.Chachi trolls Critchi: Comedian Mark Critch gets a rise out of Scott Baio"I have no idea who you are. Source
  • Chris Pratt talks 'sexy' cameo on wife's show: 'We've been rehearsing that for 10 years'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Chris Pratt has joked he’s been preparing for a “sexy scene” with wife Anna Faris on her sitcom Mom for the “past 10 years”. The Scary Movie actress has made no secret about wanting Chris to guest star on her U.S. Source
  • Fans celebrate Betty White on actress' 95th birthday

    Entertainment CTV News
    Betty White says the best thing about being 95 is that she's still employed. The actress is celebrating her birthday Tuesday. She tells Yahoo's Katie Couric that she's "most grateful" for still getting job offers. Source
  • Colin Mochrie champions transgender rights, expresses support for daughter

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Canadian comic Colin Mochrie says he welcomes his new role as a champion for transgender rights after speaking out in support of his daughter. The "Whose Line Is it Anyway?" star says he didn't expect to receive much attention when he took to Twitter on Sunday to ask why some people can't accept transgender people, like his daughter Kinley. Source
  • 9 Canadian films on the Sundance festival slate

    Entertainment CBC News
    "Everything changed" for Toronto-based Métis/Algonquin filmmaker Michelle Latimer's career after her award-winning short film Choke won a jury prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, opening the door to more projects. "I think that's what Sundance can offer, a platform not only for stories to get out but also filmmakers to have a future career," said Latimer. Source
  • Popularity rules at the 2017 People's Choice Awards

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    In the CBC sitcom Schitt's Creek, the Moira character, played by Catherine O'Hara, is asked what her favourite season is. “Awards,” she replies. It's a funny line. But when we're in the middle of January and there's an awards show on a Wednesday night, is there really anything all that funny about it? Source