Colin Firth: Singled Out

Can the gay community still take pride in A Single Man? Star Colin Firth weighs in on the controversial “de-gaying” of Tom Ford’s film debut and costar Matthew Goode's good kissing.



The cuddly Brit beloved for his dual Mr. Darcys in Bridget Jones’s Diary and BBC's Pride and Prejudice, Colin Firth is earning the best reviews of his career for A Single Man, Tom Ford’s directorial debut, which opens December 11 in limited release. In the film, which Ford adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s seminal 1964 novel, Firth plays George, a gay college professor in Los Angeles dealing with the sudden death of his longtime life partner. Over coffee at Manhattan’s swanky Carlyle Hotel, the Mamma Mia! star defends Ford’s desexualizing descriptions of A Single Man yet denounces the film’s “deceptive” marketing campaign. Though he adapted it from Isherwood’s novel, Ford has called his film “extremely autobiographical” and has admitted to grafting much of his own personality and experience onto the character of George. Did it ever feel like you were playing a Tom Ford proxy?
Colin Firth: No, that doesn’t describe it at all. At its best, any interpretive process draws on the sensibilities of all the interpreters. This is why the people who are going to be fastidious about fidelity to the book are going to — well, they’re just going to have to live with it, really. To do anything with heart, you have to take over and bring yourself in. However passionate Tom is about the original material and however much he reorientates it to his own life, he then has to relinquish that to the actor. And however far we’ve strayed from Isherwood, he’s still in there.

A Single Man is about a gay character based on a story by a gay author and directed by a gay man who grafted parts of his own life onto the story, but Tom Ford has repeatedly said that “this is not a gay film,” a statement which has understandably disappointed some members of the gay community who hunger for the next Milk or the next Brokeback Mountain.
I know. But as militant as you can get on this issue is to actually say that it’s incredibly important that we get to a place where we don’t care one way or another. The world is full of battles where a minority is struggling for its rights, so of course I certainly get that you need a militant front. I’m not saying that all gays should be depicted in a way where it doesn’t make an issue of it, but it should be considered a triumph when you finally have a character whose sexuality is secondary to the plot. It’s just about human feeling, and I think that’s wonderful.

Tags: film