By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood November 29, 2010 at 6:45AM
- One thing that makes Colin Firth blush: two thousand people singing him "Happy Birthday" (on his 50th birthday, September 10, when The King's Speech first wowed Toronto). The actor considered most likely to win an Oscar this year shares more embarrassing moments with The New Yorker's Lizzie Widdicombe, who describes him as: "the British actor best known for playing variations on the repressed-but-sexy English gentleman." On the other hand, Firth himself says the English are "very paradoxical people" for whom "It doesn’t take much to get them to let their hair down—soccer, alcohol, music, or general excitement.”
- Director Richard Eyre, who for a decade has been running the UK's largest theatre complex-- the National Theatre (which he calls "the best job in the world") -- offers various choice nuggets to The Guardian. Actors Judi Dench and Ian McKellan stand out to him: McKellan's performances, he says, "form like crystals in a saturated solution." All really good actors are "very bright…you can't be stupid and a good actor. You may be inarticulate, you may not be highly educated, but all good actors are quick-witted, some of them dazzlingly so. All you do is guide them."
As a director, he may be known for handling actors but he insists that it's a misconception that the director has all the answers: "What you're encouraging the actor to do is ask questions. You're not saying this character is such and such a thing, and it's your job to play it, because then you're depriving the actor of the sense of discovery. They're the people, in the end, who have to take ownership of the work. They go on in front of 1,000 people. You don't." During the interview Eyre's self doubt is brought to surface. He admits as he dismissed retirement: "I can't think of anyone I admire who isn't fueled by self-doubt. It's an essential ingredient...It's the grit in the oyster."
- New Oscar co-host James Franco, who just had his moment on James Lipton's Inside The Actors Studio - amid the swoons of many - likes tub-thumping other people's Oscar contenders. Variety quotes the 127 Hours star: "I loved Black Swan…Darren Aronofsky has always been one of my favorite filmmakers. Natalie Portman stood out…Vincent Cassel was great…I've never seen Mila Kunis in a movie like Black Swan and I thought that she was just perfect…She had the natural dark ability and worked opposite Natalie Portman perfectly."
- And David Poland interviews The Kids Are All Right star Julianne Moore: