Force of Firth: Nicole Kidman sends for Britain's heart-throb

He's the ideal husband for the millions of women who go to see his films, and to many of his leading ladies

He is arguably Britain's greatest living heart-throb. Millions consider him their dream husband, and Nicole Kidman is no different. Unlike anyone else, the Oscar-winning actress is in a position to live her Colin Firth fantasy not just once, but twice.

No sooner had filming ended on the upcoming Second World War drama The Railway Man, in which they play a married couple, than cameras begin rolling in London this week on the pair's next project.

Kidman was the first to sign up to play the lead in Before I Go to Sleep, based on the S J Watson novel about a woman who wakes up every morning with no memory. She was followed by the Zero Dark Thirty star Mark Strong. But the Australian wanted only one man to play her on-screen husband, again.

Strong told The Independent on Sunday that he was looking forward to working with Firth and Kidman: "They're teaming up again. Colin plays Nicole's husband and I play her doctor. It's all being filmed in London."

Rowan Joffe, who wrote The American and 28 Weeks Later, has written the screenplay and is directing. Strong added: "It's a very, good script, a really good thriller. It's a nice one to do."

Before I Go to Sleep would have been the third Firth/Kidman movieif Firth hadn't dropped out of Chan-wook Park's English-language debut film Stoker, which previewed at last month's Sundance Film Festival. But Kidman was not to be denied a second time.

Since his breakthrough performance as Mr Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice almost 20 years ago, Firth has gone on to melt the hearts of a slew Hollywood's leading ladies. His eco-activism has earned him another set of swooning admirers.

Though he may be no George Clooney or Brad Pitt, Firth has utilised his old-school charm to turn himself into an unlikely sex symbol. Initially bemused at the "mass hysteria" that followed his emergence from that lake in clinging breeches, he has spoken of the difficulties in filming love scenes with some of the world's most beautiful women.

As charming off-screen as on, he famously got down on one knee for Meryl Streep at last year's Baftas, to pick up her Jimmy Choo stiletto after it fell off when The Iron Lady star climbed the stairs to collect her award for best actress. Streep gave her Mamma Mia! co-star a kiss on the lips for his act of chivalry, which enabled her to put the shoe back on before delivering her acceptance speech.

"That couldn't have gone worse," Streep joked. Millions of women begged to differ.

Cameron Diaz gushed about playing opposite Firth in last year's Coen brothers' comedy Gambit, while Renée Zellweger, Julianne Moore and Scarlett Johansson have all been equally besotted.

Helen Mirren even joked last month when receiving a star along the Hollywood Walk of Fame next to her fellow Brit: "I couldn't be prouder and more happy that I'm actually going to finally lie next to Colin Firth, something I've been wanting to do for a very long time."

Firth has laughed off claims in the past that he keeps falling for his leading ladies. The 52-year-old has a 22-year-old son, William, from his relationship with the Canadian actress Meg Tilly, whom he met on the set of Valmont. He briefly dated his Pride and Prejudice co-star Jennifer Ehle, before starting a relationship with Livia Giuggioli, an Italian documentary maker whom he met in Colombia in 1996 while filming the TV series Nostromo. They have two sons, Luca and Matteo.

It was a gay role as the English professor in A Single Man for which Firth picked up his first Academy nomination, losing out in 2010 to Jeff Bridges. He did not have to wait too long for the Oscar to arrive, however, winning the following year for his portrayal of the Queen's father, George VI, in The King's Speech.

Renée Zellweger should also get another chance to working with Firth, in Bridget Jones's Baby, if the third Helen Fielding instalment gets off the ground.

What his leading ladies said

Talulah Riley

St Trinian's (2007)

'He's really lovely. Everyone knows and loves Colin Firth, he's a national treasure. When I was 10 I was madly in love with Darcy, and then I got to act with him! He's gorgeous.'

Cameron Diaz

Gambit (2012)

'He seduced me straight away. I was like, 'What is going on here? Why am I falling in love with Colin Firth? It's the British sense of humour, it is unique.'

Scarlett Johansson

Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)

'It was really lucky that Colin and I had such good chemistry. I had seen him in Pride and Prejudice. He was very sexy, but I still didn't know what to expect.'

Julianne Moore

A Single Man (2009)

'Once I met him and had my high expectations exceeded, I found it was also easy to play the part of a woman who had loved and been friends with him for 20 years.'

Helena Bonham Carter

The King's Speech (2010)

'We're both big fans of iFart [iPhone app used to send a whoopie cushion noise to a friend's phone]. Colin started it! We tried to embarrass each other while filming.'

Renée Zellweger

Two Bridget Jones movies (2001 and 2004)

'It was great [working with Firth]. Often you don't get a chance to renew friendships with actors as your paths don't cross unless at some film event or festival.'

Catherine Keener

Genova (2008)

'He is a little reserved [off screen]. Is that very English? I found him hysterically funny. I have the biggest crush on him, then I found out everyone else does, too.'

Amanda Seyfried

Mamma Mia! (2008)

'He is very sexy, and when I heard that he was cast in Mamma Mia!, I just couldn't wait to call my sister to tell her.'

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor