I am a self-avowed “Britophile”. What’s a Britophile? It’s a term meaning “dog-like follower of things British”. “The King’s Speech” is nicely situated to win Best Picture at the 83rd Oscars for 2011. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Michael Gambon, Derek Jacobi are people in this Brit cross-over film. “The King’s Speech” retells the story of George VI (Colin Firth) or “Bertie” and his reluctant rise to England’s throne as the “spare heir” in 1936 when Edward VIII abdicated in order to marry his American bride, Wallis Simpson. Let’s play paparazzi and look at some of these actors, some of whom I hazard to say a preponderance of American viewers have never heard of.
Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech” George IV): The recently turned 50 (but doesn’t look it) Hampshire-born actor is often typecast in period roles and literary roles. Colin Firth brings precision method acting to new places with his immaculate performances. Firth caught American Britophiles attention in 1995 as Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” BBC/PBS TV mini-series. This role was the coup de grace of the redoubtable Sir Lawrence Oliver. Mr. Darcy’s love interest Elizabeth Bennet was played by Jennifer Ehle who joins Firth in “The King’s Speech” as Myrtle Logue. Colin Firth’s other notable roles include:
“The English Patient” (with Ralph Fiennes)
“Shakespeare in Love”
“The Turn of the Screw” (Henry James classic chiller)
“Bridget Jones Diary” and “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” (with Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant)
“The Importance of Being Earnest” (with Rupert Everett)
“Girl With a Pearl Earring” (as Dutch artist Jan Vermeer)
“Nanny McPhee” (with Emma Thompson)
“Dorian Gray” (with Ben Barnes of Prince Caspian fame)
Colin Firth has been nominated for Best Actor Oscar for “The King’s Speech”, which will please my daughter. Of more interest to me in this film is the Best Supporting Actor nominee, Geoffrey Rush (Lionel Logue). With his distinctive, craggy face, raspy tenor voice, this Australian actor takes on colorful roles. Often content to play second fiddle, Rush’s talent speaks for itself. Geoffrey Rush is that actor whose name you may not remember, but his roles you do not forget. Here are just a few:
David Helfgott in “Shine”
Inspector Javert in “Les Miserables” (to Liam Neeson’s Jean Valjean)
The Marquis de Sade in “Quills” (my personal favorite Rush role)
Leon Trotsky in “Frida” (with Salma Hayek)
Sir Francis Walsingham in both “Elizabeth” movies (with Cate Blanchett)
Donovan Donaly “Intolerable Cruelty”
Peter Sellers in “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers”
Ezylryb from “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole”
Captain Barbossa in all of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies including the new “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”
Other notable British actors from “The King’s Speech” include Claire Bloom (Queen Mary) Helena Bonham Carter (Queen Elizabeth) and Michael Gambon (George V). He is also Albus Dumbledore in several of the “Harry Potter” films. Derek Jacobi (Archbishop Cosmos Lang) is known for “I, Claudius” and “Brother Cadfael”. Guy Pearce (with Jim Caviezel in “The Count of Monte Cristo”), Anthony Andrews is Agatha Christie’s new Tommy from Tommy and Tuppence. Timothy Spall is known to Harry Potter fans as Wormtail/ Peter Pettigrew.
Oh yes, the 83rd Oscars is going to be a rare treat for Britophiles.