In the hit film "Bridget Jones's Diary," he is the only man in England who gazes adoringly at a slightly tipsy, slightly overweight, heavy smoking Renee Zellweger and tells her not to change a thing about herself.
"I like you just the way you are," coos his character Mark Darcy.
Now women are begging for autographs. They're asking if he's single—sorry girls, he's not. They want "a Mark Darcy type."
"It's so utterly bizarre to think of myself as a sex symbol at this age. I have no objection to being what you call in America `a hottie,' but it certainly isn't what I'm going for at this stage of my career," says Firth, laughing.
He shrugs and adds, "I guess if it had to happen, now isn't a bad time. When I was first starting, it would have been confusing and misdirected. I would have had a very distorted image of myself and my power as an actor.
"And I would have spent the rest of my life wondering why no one was thinking of me as sexy anymore," laughs Firth who adds, "I would have looked at my body, fretting that things were falling!"
Author Helen Fielding was thinking of Firth when she began writing her column "Bridget Jones's Diary" in the English newspaper, the Independent—before she penned her best-selling book.
"I had just finished watching him in the miniseries 'Pride and Prejudice' (1995) and like most of London, I fell in love with his Mr. Darcy," the author recalls. "As a wink, I named Bridget's Mr. Right Mark Darcy. I described him to look like Colin Firth. In fact, part of me was worried that the actor would feel my descriptions were too close to him."
"It was a hall of mirrors thing for me. Very bizarre," he says. "My mother actually thought that it was real. She thought that the column was about me—Colin—and not a character." Speaking of which, he "wouldn't mind" reprising Darcy in the sequel. "Give me a good script, and I'll do it," he says. "I love Bridget."
As for his own love life, Firth had a long-term relationship and has a son with actress Meg Tilly, whom he met on the set of "Valmont" (1989). They broke up years ago, and he played the field until meeting wife Livia Giuggioli in 1996 when she was the production coordinator on a TV miniseries.
"It was love at first sight—or lust," he says. "She is an Italian beauty and the smartest woman on this planet. And this is as far as we're going in relation to my personal life! I'm no open book. There will never be a 'Colin Firth's Diary!' "
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