Actor. Born Colin Andrew Firth on September 10, 1960, as one of three siblings. His parents, David and Shirley Firth, worked as academic lecturers in Nigeria, Africa, at the time of Colin’s birth. Firth and his family lived in Nigeria until Colin was 4, and then settled in England. Firth’s family, who was loving but poor, tried to instill an intellectual curiousity in their children. That academic interest all but disappeared when Colin began attending King’s School in a tough area near his Hampshire, England, home. To avoid beatings and bullying from the kids at school, Firth adopted the rough, local accent of his fellow classmates and began feigning disinterest in school. Firth later told reporters that he read The Odyssey at home, but refused to complete his homework. Frequently absent, he performed so badly on his final exams that he had to retake English.
Having declared at the age of 14 that he wanted to become an actor, he decided to forgo college in pursuit of his dreams of the theatre. At 18 he took off to London, where he joined the National Youth Theatre. Although he wasn’t an instant success, Firth came in contact with many movers and shakers in the acting world. His contacts at NYT helped him land a job in the wardrobe department of the National Theatre in 1979, and his backstage work inspired him to go to acting school at the London Drama Centre in order to improve his acting craft. Studying six days a week for three years, Colin cut his teeth in a variety of plays including King Lear, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, and Hamlet. After a talent scout spotted his performance of Hamlet, Firth was offered his first West End stage role as Guy Bennett in the 1981 production of Another Country. Chosen to replace Daniel Day-Lewis, who had in turn taken the role over from Rupert Everett, Firth shined at the Queen’s Theatre. After seeing Firth perform the role, Everett decided Firth would be well-suited to the film adaptation of the play. Everett had already signed on to play the role of Guy Bennett in the big-screen version, and helped Firth land a co-starring role as Tommy Judd. In 1984, Firth made his film debut in Another Country, which was well-received by critics and earned several BAFTA nominations.
In 1984, Firth landed his first starring television role opposite Greta Scacchi in Camille, a CBS remake of the George Cukor story. He would then go on to star in the popular English miniseries Lost Empires in 1986. The actor earned his first awards for his portrayal of a paralyzed soldier in the television movie, Tumbledown, in 1989. He earned a Royal Television Society award, among others, for his performance. He also made his American movie debut that same year, in Valmont.
But Firth’s breakthrough role didn’t come until 1995, when he was cast at Mr. Darcy in the BBC production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The performance earned accolades and rave reviews in England and was quickly exported to the United States, where he earned even greater fame as a heartthrob. Firth was nominated for Best Actor awards by BAFTA and National Television, which opened the doors for more mainstream movie productions.
Firth’s next role was in the Oscar-winning film, The English Patient (1996), which earned him more fame and accolades from critics and fans alike. In 1998, he held a prominent role in yet another Oscar-winning blockbuster, when he appeared in Shakespeare in Love. With his appearance in 2001’s Bridget Jones’ Diary, Firth reprised his Mr. Darcy role in a more contemporary setting. The success in the film continued his streak of well-received performances in high-grossing films. He also earned another BAFTA award nomination for his performance.
Firth received his first Emmy nomination for his role in the HBO film, Conspiracy, in 2001. Riding off the wave of success over the last couple of years, he continued to appear in a string of mainstream movies, including the popular Love Actually (2003), Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Mamma Mia! (2008) and A Christmas Carol (2009). In his most critically-acclaimed role yet, Colin Firth starred in 2009’s A Single Man. The film, led by first-time director Tom Ford, earned many accolades. Firth was also recognized with Academy Award, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations.
On June 21, 1997, Colin Firth married director Livia Giuggioli. The couple resides in Chiswick, London, with their two sons, Luca (2001) and Mateo (2003). Firth has a third son, William, from a previous relationship with actress Meg Tilly.