Queensland-based performer Robert Coleby was one of the lucky Equity members to attend the Equity Foundation’s In Conversation with Colin Firth. Here he writes about the experience. Photos by Harry Saragossi
On Sunday June10, 250 or so of us lucky members, thanks to Equity and Screen Queensland, witnessed a Q and A with the excellent and much acclaimed Colin Firth, hosted by Sigrid Thornton.
Colin, who had only just touched down in Australia and was suffering jet lag, is here to shoot The Railway Man, the harrowing true story of a World War II P.O.W. and the infamous Burma Railway.
Sigrid's talk with Colin was a revelation. Answering questions with the utmost generosity and candour he admitted to being always “back to square one” with a new role, and always battling uncertainty, resorting to the methods he'd learned at drama school to get through to the other side.
Creative blocks, getting off on the wrong foot, public perception, the positive and negative effects of accolades and approval, family sacrifices, the lack of any notion of steering his career, the ordinary stuff he's taken on just to keep working and making a living were some of the many topics Colin opened up to us on with self-deprecating honesty.
Admitting to increasing stage fright, for instance, Colin related how, just after the 15 minutes was called on the evening of the first performance of his last play (about 10 years ago) , he suddenly found himself unable to remember the first couple of lines of the two-page monologue he had at the beginning. Feeling overwhelmed by the fetid air backstage, he went out on the fire escape landing to try to clear his head and the door blew shut behind him. Colin was forced to go round to the front-of-house and elbow his way through the crowd and then he forgot the pass code to the backstage access door and found himself locked out, screaming "let me in!". He didn't remember the lines until he walked on stage. Apparently the performance, to which all the critics had snuck in, "managed somehow to be a success."
For an actor who has won the world's most prestigious seal of approval to place himself fairly and squarely amongst us in this way was nothing short of uplifting. His insistence that acting was an art as worthy and noble as any other discipline was inspiring.
Thanks Sigrid, for the evocative questions, and many thanks Colin, you are a legend.