Tuesday, 4 January 2011 Colin Firth had shot to fame earlier that year with his role in A Month In The Country. When the NME commissioned me to photograph him, he was in the middle of shooting his next film Tumbledown - based on the real life experiences of Lt. Richard Lawrence in the Falklands war. Lt. Lawrence had sustained terrible head injuries in the battle of Mount Tumbledown and that’s why Colin Firth had his head shaved in this photograph.
This photograph was taken in the front room of Colin’s flat in North London. I was there for about four hours – three-and-three-quarter hours chatting (mostly about music) and drinking tea and about a quarter of an hour taking photos.
I must say that in all the years I've been photographing various rock stars, actors and celebrities I've never met one that was more warm, charming and friendly than Colin Firth. In my book he gets ten out of ten in that regard. My 86 year old mother is also a big fan too. She has all his films and particularly likes the bit in Pride and Prejudice where he gets himself all wet in the lake. It's one of her YouTube favourites. So his appeal goes right across all ages too.
But getting on well with my subjects is not a pre-requisite, sometimes it can even interfere slightly. I tend to get along perfectly well with about 98% of the people I photograph, but I’m never going to get along with all of them.
Sandy Shaw, for instance, said just three things to me during my one-and-a-half minute photo session with her. (1) “Hi, I’m Sandy.” I was trying to think of a humorous, but not too rude, response to this opener when she came out with (2) “Ooh, you’re the most miserable photographer I’ve ever met.” Followed shortly by (3) a curt “I’m off.” Then she stormed out. She’s perfectly entitled to her opinion, of course. But I flatter myself to think that my sense of humour is fairly dry and I guess it must be too dry for some. Possibly, when stressed, it may err on the side of being more dry than humorous. And everyone can have an off day.