Colin FirthHe’ll forever be known as the BEST on-screen Mr Darcy, but there’s more to Colin Firth than a posh accent and sideburns. He stars alongside Cameron Diaz and Alan Rickman in Gambit, based on the original Sixties film starring Michael Caine. Here, Colin, 52, speaks about filming with his trousers off and which work of art he’d like to pinch.

You’re seen as quite a serious actor now. Did this film  give you a newfound respect for comedy?

I knew that it was notoriously difficult, and frightens a lot of people off and I have a great deal of respect for the craft; I don’t know how much respect it has for me.

It’s a precision process. Doing it on stage would be terrifying. Doing it on film has its own difficulties, because film is not conducive to spontaneity. You don’t have laughs as a reference point anymore and it becomes a bit of a science after that. On the other hand, it’s a lot of fun.

Plunging into physical comedy and abandoning all dignity, no-one can really hurt you much after that. You’ve done your worst!

Did you feel self-conscious about filming the scenes without your trousers on?

Walking around in The Savoy hotel with it being open to the public? Not at all! Of course, it was appalling. And Cameron Diaz, being the kind and sweet and supportive colleague she was, assured me there was nothing to worry about with my legs, and that they were magnificent specimens. But actually, she burst into a spontaneous belly laugh!

You seem paranoid about your legs, Colin. What’s the problem? I know many women who’d be thrilled to see you in your boxers…

Well, there’s a thought! I did take my trousers off and spend twenty minutes in a feature film with things on show. Whether that’s a way of exorcising paranoia, or that I’m secretly perfectly happy with them…I wouldn’t be able to decide.

How did you feel when confronted with the lion in the film?

I was beside myself with terror! Under entirely safe circumstances, that is. There was a particular moment where it did seem to take an interest in me. It was the eye contact moment where I nearly lost control of some essential muscles. It was pretty startling actually, to suddenly be focused on for that moment, because I don’t think it’s supposed to look at you, really.

Which favourite work of art would you most like to nick, as your character Harry tries in the film?

Obviously, I had a bit of an adventure with Vermeer [in The Girl With The Pearl Earring] a few years ago, and there were quite a few Vermeers…it would either be The View Of Delft, which blew my mind when I saw it. I was supposed to be looking at The Girl With The Pearl Earring! It would either be that or The Calling Of St. Matthew by Caravaggio.

GAMBIT is out on Blu-Ray, DVD and to download now from Momentum Pictures.

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