Colin Firth nearly missed out on playing Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice because he was 'too ginger'

Firth is known for playing the dark, brooding hero in the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's romance

Colin Firth as Mr Darcy in the famous 'wet shirt scene' in Pride and Prejudice
Colin Firth as Mr Darcy in the famous 'wet shirt scene' in Pride and Prejudice

Mr Darcy diving into a lake to cool his ardour for Elizabeth Bennet only to emerge in a soaking white shirt just as she decides to swing by Pemberley with her family, is one of the most memorable moments of the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice.

But the 1995 drama’s scriptwriter Andrew Davies has revealed that lead actor Colin Firth almost didn’t bag the iconic role because he was too ginger to be convincing as the dark, brooding hero.

“I was a bit doubtful about Colin at the time because of his colouring at the time,” Davies admitted during a recent event marking his 80th birthday at the British Film Institute. “He didn’t have those dark curls back then.”

Davies explained that producer Sue Birtwhistle was the most vocal supporter of Firth and was “absolutely convinced that he would be wonderful”, but the team agreed that he would have to dye his hair for the part.

“He did go dark and he stayed dark ever since,” Davies said. “He must have liked the look. I think underneath all that he’s sort of fair to ginger.”

Firth is unlikely to be overjoyed at Davies for revealing that he’s fond of the hair dye, especially as the drama adapter added “you must not tell anybody” to his cheeky revelation.


Davies is busy working on an adaptation of A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, also for the BBC, while Firth can currently be seen in cinemas reprising his role as Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’s Baby.

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