Colin Firth, the British actor who won an Oscar as George VI in The King’s Speech, is once again getting to grips with villain Poppy in the second Kingsman film. In it, he reprises his role as a secret agent who extricates himself from all kinds of tricky situation thanks to a TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45. The kind of feature-packed smartwatch that our old friend James Bond could have worn!
When I was young, I was totally enthralled by the action and the exploits, of course, but what captivated me the most was Bond’s devotion to queen and country! This isn’t so surprising when you consider I grew up in the 1960s and 70s, in the middle of the Cold War. Our heroes were The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Harry Palmer, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and of course James Bond. So what if it was all rather far-fetched, we didn’t care. When Sean Connery unzips his diving suit to reveal the impeccable dinner jacket and bow tie underneath, the perfect attire to enjoy a quiet vodka martini at the bar, of course you have to smile, but for sheer class it can’t be beat. Then there were the watches that could do the most amazing tricks. I remember the Breitling that detected radioactivity in Thunderball, the Rolex Submariner that neutralised magnetic fields in Live and Let Die, the telex watch in The Spy Who Loved Me and the laser-beam watch in Never Say Never Again. Any kid would have loved to have one of those gadgets on his wrist, starting with me!
I wouldn’t mind a watch that would make me invisible. Or one that would beam me to wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, with whomever I wanted, all at the press of a button. You know, I never expected to be famous one day. I was a struggling actor for so long that the thought I might possibly become “someone” never crossed my mind. Until Pride and Prejudice, I could sit in a football stadium and read The Independent while everyone else was drinking beer and singing lewd songs. Then one day, a supporter came up to me and said, “Hang on, I know you!” That was the day I realised my life was going to radically change! [laughs]
That’s right, it’s a connected watch. I’ve always had a thing for technology and especially miniaturisation. The TAG Heuer really has its own role in the film. It gets Taron [Egerton] and myself, well our characters, out of some pretty impossible situations.
I think actors would make excellent spies in that they know how to create illusions, win people’s trust and sow doubt in their mind. These seem to me to be the qualities a good spy would need. Personally, and like the majority of actors, I’m completely insecure. I’m convinced we become actors as a means of reassuring ourselves by hiding behind masks. Would I have made a good recruit for the British secret service? Yes and no. Yes, because I can keep a secret. No, because I hate guns and the idea of manipulating people.
I usually become quite irritable about an hour before the beginning of ceremonies, such as the Oscars. I’m as restless as a lion in a cage. I don’t go to pieces but I’m tense. I need space to breathe. I imagine the worse and the least thing stresses me out. The most unbearable part is the waiting, hence I’m constantly looking at my watch. As though there were something soothing about seeing the hands going round. It’s really a way to take my mind of the situation. I’ve noticed that listening to Debussy helps too. Some people take medication to treat anxiety. For me it’s Debussy! [laughs]
Not just that. As a teenager, I really wanted to play guitar. Not as an amateur or for fun. I wanted to play for a living. I could see myself as a rock star or a bluesman. I even grew my hair long, like Roger Daltrey, the lead singer of the Who, so I could look the part when really I looked a sight! Sadly the teachers at my school had other plans. They thought the guitar wasn’t an “academic” instrument, meaning it wasn’t “serious” enough, and made me learn the trombone instead. I hated that instrument so much it put me off the whole idea of music. So I chose drama instead.