My father was teaching. It was just curiosity. He took an overseas teaching post in his job as a history teacher, I think, in what was an equivalent of a high school.
My first four years of my life were in Nigeria "not that one remembers a lot about the first four years of one's life "but it did make an impression on me not least because people we'd known there continued to be in our lives as visitors. There were constantly people from India (both my parents were born and raised in India) and so there was an immense cultural diversity under my own roof throughout my entire upbringing, and I consider that to be absolutely nothing but a privilege!
He also lived in St. Louis, Missouri USA when he was 11.
We came back and we traveled around the English provinces. My father took a job at another school (at high school level) for three or four years and then at a college, so that led to a couple - two or three - moves I think. Then we were a year in the United States, in St. Louis. I was in junior high. Then back to England, so most of my upbringing has taken place in England.
St. Louis was the "most hideous memory" in Firth's childhood because "I was a precocious brat with grass-stained knees who was too proud to be silent. "
He attended the Montgomery of Alamein Secondary School, a state comprehensive school in Winchester, Hampshire, and then Barton Peveril College in Eastleigh, Hampshire.
Colin was not very happy at school and rebelled against learning things which he considered of no interest to him. He failed his school exams and did not continue beyond his compulsory education.
"My education was deeply stifling. Nothing that I had experienced in the classroom has had anything to do with life. At that age your entire being is invaded by your sexual consciousness, and all you're getting is algebra and French! I'm delightfully happy as an adult, but I was not very happy as a child. I'm very suspicious of people who romanticize their childhood."
He had his first taste of acting as a child when he appeared in a school play. He soon discovered that he enjoyed acting, which seemed to be the only thing for which he was praised - according to his own recollection. As a result, from the age of 14 he was determined to become an actor.
"I announced to myself and everyone else that I would become an actor. I'm not sure how serious I was at first. It was a nice thing to be able to say at school. It was a good way to abdicate responsibility for academic matters. I had no idea what acting as a way of life entailed."
In 2010 Colin was nominated by the Barton Peveril College for a AoC Gold Award,
in recognition of his stellar acting career.
Colin received a Gold Award from the Association of Colleges at the House of
Commons on 15 June 2010. Read more about it here
After school, he went to London where he found work as a stage door keeper at the Shaw Theatre and a workroom assistant at the National Theatre.
He also attended the National Youth Theatre and finally managed to enrol with the Drama Centre, one of the renowned London drama schools. (Drama schools in Great Britain accept students purely on the strength of their abilities.)
At 18, the unprepared would-be actor arrived in London and joined the amateur National Youth Theatre. He immediately got cast as "third fairy on the left" in A Midsummer Night's Dream. After the play's run ended, he stayed on at the theater answering the stage door phone. "I sat in a tiny cubbyhole taking calls to and from quite famous people, alone in the building and alone in London." He avoided cracking up by winning a job as tea-maker in the wardrobe department of Olivier's National Theatre.
In the course of his drama studies, he played the title roles in Moliere's "Tartuffe", Hamlet, and Cat on A Hot Tin Roof and Shakespeare's "King Lear": and in his final year in 1983 (this soon led to talent scouts and stage success), he was tapped to replace Daniel Day-Lewis in a West End production called “Another Country.”
"In drama school (London's Drama Centre) I tended to get flamboyant characters, paranoids and psychos (Hamlet was his crowning achievement as a student). Since then, I've been astonished to find myself playing naive, sensitive, romantic young chaps."
Colin Firth (mid-1980s)
He also appeared in the film version of that play. A steady flow of work followed and Colin quickly became known as a wonderfully gifted and reliable performer. Whilst the cinema remains his most prolific medium, his most powerful roles have so far been in television drama (particularly Tumbledown and, famously, Pride and Prejudice) and all his rare theatre appearances have achieved top accolade.
Early Career and stardom
Colin then decided to take off from more glamorous roles and focus on developing his art by doing more theatre.
His next big role was the title role in Valmont, a sumptuous, multi-million dollar reproduction of a French novel, and then Tumbledown, an important British work.
He explored varied opportunities in theatre, television, and film, both in London and in Hollywood. He took on many different types of roles to challenge his abilities with psychologically intense roles.
He then starred in a string of Hollywood films, including “Wings of Fame,” with Peter O’Toole, then “Femme Fatale” and “Out of the Blue,” neither of which was highly successful.
Colin Firth with Meg Tilly, who he met on the set of Valmont and with whom he has one son.
(Colin's calls her other children his stephchildren)
Click image to enlarge
Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, with who he had a brief relationship.
"I have found it very difficult to do a love scene with an actress that I'm involved with. That was particularly the case with Meg; we found it very, very hard to make use of our relationship on the screen. You can feel invaded, you know, with half the crew around. The last thing you're going to do is giggle and do the take so many times you get bruised lips."
His personal life became somewhat complicated when he fell in love with his "Valmont" co-star, Canadian actress Meg Tilly. They lived together near Vancouver in Canada for some years and have a son, William. But Colin returned to England around 1993 and Will now lives with his mother in Los Angeles. Nevertheless, Colin is known to take his fatherhood extremely seriously and insists on contact with his son as often as possible. When that relationship ended, his career had lost momentum and he went back to smaller-town theatre and TV.
Colin and William (Will) just like to "hang out" when Colin is in L.A. (where Colin owns a condo): "There's nothing unconventional about our activities."
As he continued to get back into acting, he went back to Hollywood and starred in the well-received film “Circle of Friends” with Minnie Driver. His breakthrough role came in the form of Mr. Darcy in the Jane Austen classic, “Pride and Prejudice.” This was a role he had turned down many times, as it played toward the predictable, snobby, British role, which he wanted to avoid. After his previous film failures, he decided to try it, and it was a huge success.
Colin also had a well publicized personal relationship with Jennifer Ehle who played Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, but apparently they were not well suited together in real life, and parted about a year later.
He used his new fame to pick his roles carefully, with the next one being “The English Patient.”
In 1995, whilst filming "Nostromo" on location in Colombia, Colin met and fell deeply in love with an Italian lady, Livia Giuggioli (she was taking time off from her Ph.D. studies at the University of Rome to work as a producer's assistant), 9 years his junior, who was working for the Italian co-producers of the program. They married in Italy in 1997, live in London and have two sons, Luca and Mateo, born 29-Mar-2001 in Rome and August 2003 respectively.
Livia Giuggioli and Colin Firth
Colin Firth and his parents
Colin Firth thinks he is too old to be a sex symbol
"I think I'm getting a bit old for that stuff now, aren't I? I suppose that because of the profession I'm in, I do get a certain amount of attention that I probably would not get if I had not been known. I certainly wouldn't get the attention I get if I hadn't been on screen."
Despite the attention he receives,
Colin doesn't take any notice and is kept grounded by his wife.
"My wife is very useful at helping me keep my feet on the ground.
She sees me in the morning, so it destroys the illusion.”
A family to die for...
I'd die for any of my family. I can't say that I'd relish the prospect of doing so.
But if it came down to it, the alternative would be unbearable, wouldn't it."
In 2007, Colin received an honorary degree from the University of Winchester, which he said was a great moment in his life. Read more on his honorary Degree
In 2009, Colin wins ‘best actor’ award at the Venice Film Festival for his role in "A Single Man". Oscar buzz has started....
Colin Firth was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in "A Single Man" and plenty of other organizations have taken note of his work, particularly in Europe. "A Single Man" earned kudos at film festivals.
In 2011 Colin won all the important awards for his role of King George VI in "The King's Speech" including a BAFTA, Golden Globe and an Academy Award (Oscar).
Colin is reputed to be straightforward, modest and level-headed. He dresses casually, is wary of fame and shuns excessive publicity. He says he has no other hobbies besides acting and family life, but it is known that he also likes to relax listening to music, he plays guitar and he also reads a lot.
He is known for his social concerns and action in support of refugees and African tribal people. More recently he has emerged as a talented writer: his well received short story "The Department of Nothing" was included in an anthology "Speaking With the Angel" edited by writer and personal friend, Nick Hornby (author of "Fever Pitch").
Those who have met Colin personally, describe him as well mannered, kind, considerate, amusing, with a great sense of humour, and extremely good company. His personal magnetism attracts many people, men and women of all ages, who sincerely admire him and his many talents.
Yet Colin has no official fan club and apparently no wish to have one, either!