L'Uomo Vogue - November 2017 Interview Translation (mostly the bits about Colin) [x]
L’Uomo Vogue: Can you recall the path of your friendship [Colin and Rupert’s]?
Colin Firth: We met for the first time in 1983 when Rupert came to visit me in the backstage while I played “Another Country” in a West End theatre and I was playing the role he’d done before.
We hung out for a while regularly, being in his company was exciting. It was him who suggested I should play Tommy Judd in the film version (and he still tries his best not to remind me that I owe him my entire career).
When we began filming it became clear I coudn’t keep up with him. Until I had met him, I tried to be a smart, brilliant sort of guy, a wordly man. But he was way out of my league. He was tremendously funny, absolutely outside the box, and totally annoyed by boring people.
For a while I tried my best to keep up with him, but then it became too tiring. There was no competition, so I decided to go in the opposite direction and become decisively boring. It wasn’t too hard.
Rupert Everett: I was attracted to him when we met. He played the same role I had played. I thought he should be the other character in the film. So I pressed a lot to have him too in “Another Country”. Then as soon as he started acting I hated him! I regret it a lot. Where did that hate come from? Jealousy, maybe.
C.F: Rupert saw me with a copy of The Guardian and that was enough: then, to complete the idea that he had of me, he added a guitar, a background in a university that wasn’t that prestigious [Colin graduated at Winchester].
In the following years he perfected that idea with a pair of sandals and the folk repertoire of Peter, Paul and Mary… and he mixed it all. All those props are his inventions - but as a portrait of my deepest nature, I’ll admit there’s something true about that.
And I’m not the kind of man who lets the truth ruin a bit of good burlesque.
R.E: Colin doesn’t agree, but I remember him strumming his guitar all the time, wearing sandals and singing songs of protest, Sandals! He played “Lemon Tree”! [a famous success of Peter, Paul and Mary].
He says it’s all false. And it probably is, maybe I was just too envious and he was too good.
Once I was a man who did a lot. I think we all are when we’re young… I wanted to have everything under control. I was annoying. So, after that, for a long while we weren’t friends. But that was 30 years ago. The good thing about growing old doing this job is that you work with pleasant people that you’ve known for a while, and that makes it all the more fun.
L’U.V: Then you worked together in “Shakespeare in Love”. But when did you start being friends?
C.F: Our friendship started for real with “The Importance of Being Ernest”, during the Summer of 2001. One of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
Maybe because he had grown, or maybe because I got a bit more loose, or became better, we became close friends. I managed to make him laugh, which is something that filled me with satisfaction.
Then followed two films of the “St. Trinian’s” series that I did first and foremost because he was doing them.
On my last day on set of the second film, Rupert became very gloomy. Even if he never said it, I’m convinced he was sad about me leaving. Around lunchtime I bid my goodbyes to everyone and, after I’d left, Rupert stayed laid on the floor of his trailer for an hour, faking being dead, to the dismay of the producers and the medical staff.
He’ll certainly tell a different story, but it’s true for me and just another proof of his fondness (for me).
It’s probably during that time that he started writing “The Happy Prince”. He told me he’d go write it in Paris, in the same hotel room Wilde stayed. Hoping it’d be a “collaboration” with Oscar. The room was too depressing, so he left the next day. Six weeks later though, he came back with one of the best scripts I’ve ever read.
R.E: I could never have done the film without Colin. Nowadays the most important thing to make a film is going to the potential investors with the names of the actors that are going to be in it.
Just as soon as I wrote it, right at the beginning, that is years ago, he came to me and did a first reading.
It was before he’d do “The King’s Speech” or “A Single Man”. We had just finished “St.Trinian’s 2″. It was easy to make him sign a piece of paper at that time! He signed, but then it took years to make it… He was the real deal. The important thing was that he was involved in the project. So, in a sense I owe it all to him, besides Emily Watson and Tom Wilkinson and all the others, obviously.
But it was him that everybody wanted. We’re not the best friends, but Colin was there for me, he supported me, and in the end we did the film.
In this business nobody does favours anymore. Today, actors’ careers are managed by these impenetrable agencies.
He instead did me a favour and it’s a very rare thing. I’ll always owe him.
L’U.V.: When you made the film in the end, how did it go?
C.F: Rupert was unique. It’s extraordinary working with someone who has that kind of control on the entire project: actor, writer, director.
He kept having new ideas, he never stopped. […]
L’U.V: […] I want to ask Colin about his decision to get the italian passport (he’s got the double citizenship in September), something that he was allowed to do since he’s married with Livia Giuggioli. The British Press said it was also because of Brexit.
C.F.: I always considered my relationship with Italy as a gift. It’s a relationship that in my family has gone on for two decades. I got married here [in Italy], my two sons were born in Rome.
My wife and I are both extremely proud of our respective Countries. We feel like we gave a gift to each other. Our children have the double citizenship.
In reality, we’ve never really thought about how we had different passports. But now with all this uncertainty around, we thought it was for the best if we all had the same passports.
I’ll always be absolutely British (just look at me and listen to me), Great Britain is our home and we love it. Despite the temptation to move somewhere more profitable for my job, I’ve always chosen to have my career grow in the United Kingdom and pay my taxes there.
But I’ve bonded/married into Italy (and everyone will tell you that if you marry an italian, you’re not marrying just one person, but an entire family or maybe an entire Country…).
As basically anyone, I have a passion for Italy and having the double citizenship, like my children, is for me a great privilege.