BY Brandon Voss
December 13 2009 1:10 PM ET
No, and I’d never met him before, either. We actually met on the plane on the way over to make the film. He came up and was like, “Hi, I’m Colin Firth.” And I was like, “I, uh, I know who you are. Nice to meet you.” When we got to L.A., the first thing we had to do was go to the hotel and — since we’re pasty Englishmen and the film’s set in California — have a spray tan immediately. So it was like, “Take all your clothes off and stand in the bath next to Colin,” while they spray-painted us with this stuff that made us look — well, I have to say we did look a bit better afterward. But then we had to stand around in our pants for 45 minutes drinking gin and tonics, waiting for the stuff to set a little, so it was quite a bizarre way to meet someone you have a lot of respect for. That’s when I noticed that he was tremendous shape for an older man, I must say. He’d been in the gym a bit. It’s a real luxury to get to hang out with your costar. If you can develop a friendship in real life, then it can charge what you can do on-screen. Sometimes it’s better not to know them, but with the closeness of the relationship between George and Jim, it really helped.
Is Colin someone that younger British actors like yourself want to emulate?
Definitely. I was such a fan of Another Country and some of his other early work like Tumbledown, because he brings a real complexity and subtlety to his work and makes acting look extraordinarily easy. But in the last few years — and I hope he won’t mind me saying — I think he’s been really underutilized. So I think this is a really lovely turning point for him, and I’m overjoyed for him because he’s become a friend. One of the best pieces of acting I’ve seen in the last few years is when Colin takes the phone call about Jim’s death. He’s just amazing in that scene.
Colin told me that you were a good kisser. What did you think of his skills?
Right back at ’im. Sometimes you see straight actors trying to portray gay men as very aggressive, so the kissing is superaggressive and rough. I’m sure that does exist, but we liked that our kissing was sensitive.
Compared to shooting love scenes with a woman, do you find it more challenging to get intimate with another straight man?
Well, I’ll let you know when I have to do something with full-frontal. But I don’t think you can have an erection in a scene, and I always find that funny: If you’re going to have sex, you can’t suddenly have the man springing into bed with a floppy knob. It should be a little bit saturated with semen and standing out at an odd angle with a few veins involved. [Laughs] Obviously I’m a man who likes women and has a child now, but I’m not squeamish and I love all people. If you’ve been entrusted to do the job, then you find something to love in the other character and you do your job.
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