Colin Firth was single-minded and self-possessed as the Marxist Judd in Another Country; romantic and stoic as Truelove in Dutch Girls. Next month that chiselled jaw line slides back into view when Granada Television shows its seven-part dramatisation, Lost Empires, based on the J.B. Priestley novel about life in Edwardian music halls. Firth plays the narrator, and heads a cast of 100 including Lawrence Olivier and Pamela Stephenson. The series was directed by Alan Grint and took a year to make.
"Relationships can become strained, especially with the stress, tension and frayed tempers on the set" He recuperated in Inverness, where he disappeared, enigmatic and so alone, "on retreat".
He has wanted to be an actor since he landed the part of Jack Frost in a school production and it entailed wearing silver satin trousers and a sky blue sash. "I was very blonde then."
As a teenager he hated school, loved King Crimson and Camus and got his hair cut short, like everybody else, in 1977. Nowadays, "I dress down completely - I try to get away with jeans. I don't like it when clothes are a huge issue."
You might catch him in the long leather coat he found in an attic, or the 1940s motorcycle jacket with fur trim, or his Doc Martens.
Favourite haunts are Jones, Paul Smith and Workers for Freedom, but the most frequently visited store is Marks & Spencer near his Hackney flat. Envisage him darting among the frozen Duchess Desserts, the Viennese Fancies, the Heat and Serve Moules Bonne Femme.
<< Colin Firth wears a floor-length coat in black wool, with a grey lining, huge and warm: "Far from my usual style. I might buy a coat like this ... Yes, I think I would..."