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TNS meets Colin Firth, Alan Rickman and Cameron Diaz...

20th November 2012

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In Gambit we are treated to the sight of Colin Firth running around the Savoy sans trousers, finding himself in various cringe-worthy situations. Starring alongside him is Alan Rickman as Billionaire media tycoon Lionel Shabandar, and Cameron Diaz as Texas cowgirl PJ Puznowski, whom Firth’s Harry Deane enlists to help him pull off his great Monet heist.

It is this film that took TNS on one otherwise innocuous November afternoon to meet three of the world’s biggest film stars.

Colin Firth is first to admit that physical comedy is hardly the easiest genre to pull off. Whilst he might be familiar in more subtle comedy roles, we are hardly used to seeing him dashing around the Savoy trouser-less.

“I knew it was quite difficult and frightens a few people off,” he says. “You know, the dying actress who says that dying is easy; comedy is hard.”

He does concede, though, that after “plunging into a bit of physical comedy, abandoning all dignity, no one can really hurt you as much after that.”

And his co-stars? Were they supportive, in the face of this indignity?

Here Colin laughs: “Cameron Diaz being the kind and sweet supporting co-worker that she was-

“I was!” Diaz cuts in.

“-she assured me that my legs, I had nothing to worry about… and burst into a spontaneous belly laugh-”

Cameron interrupts again: “I think I pointed when I was laughing. At your knees.”

Moving on from talk of Colin’s knees, have any of the cast conned their way into an acting job by claiming a skill that they didn’t really have? Surely Cameron didn’t really lasso a lion...?

It turns out that, although she didn’t perform this particular stunt in Gambit, she has no problem asking for help for most roles. It was this that took her to small-town Texas, where she “found my own hat – everybody has to have their own hat – found my boots, found my buckle, and my jeans, and brought them back here and did some training with the cast.”

She continues: “I know how to throw a rope. It was so much fun and it’s such a spirited world, and it is very Americana – it’s an essential part of the American experience.”

Alan Rickman, it appears, is less comfortable about admitting his limits - even when it comes to operating heavy machinery. “Having claimed to be able to drive a car...” he begins. Yes? “There is one take where the car is screaming down this road in first gear with the windscreen wipers going and it wasn’t raining.” Pause. “I can drive now.”

Non-human co-stars may have provided more of a challenge than even being asked to drive – in one particular scene Colin finds himself faced with an angry Lion. Lucky then that Wrangler, the lion in question, had been described as “quite tame... for a lion” by its owner.

Colin is clear that this becomes even “less reassuring when it’s five feet away from you,” and when the only thing between you is a filament two feet off the ground and scattered bits of flesh that are being deposited to keep it at bay.

“There was a particular moment where it started to lose interest in those little pieces of flesh and started to take interest in me,” he says. “It was the eye contact moment when I nearly started to lose control of some essential muscles.”

It then comes out that ‘Steve the lion tamer’ later revealed that he didn’t have complete control over the lion during its scenes with Colin...

“They told me that and they asked me not to say anything,” says Cameron.

Colin looks surprised for a second. “Well,’ he says. “Now we know.”

The film sees Deane dream up an artistic plot in order to obtain millions of pounds through the sale of a fake Monet. But which masterpieces would the stars most like to steal for themselves?

Alan Rickman would like to bottle Europe’s most beautiful cities for his own private art collection. “I’ve just spent the weekend in Bruges,” he says, “so I’d like to take the whole of Bruges and put it in my living room really.”

Colin? “I had a bit of an adventure with Vermeer a few years ago,” he says, in reference to 2003’s Girl With a Pearl Earring, in which he starred alongside Scarlett Johanssen. “I saw quite a few Vermeers. It would have to be the View of Delft.” After a pause. “I think The Calling of St Matthew by Caravaggio would be another one.”

Somehow, the conversation moves back to Colin and his legs. There are lots of women (and probably men) who would love to see him in his boxers…

“Well, this is the thought isn’t it,” he says. “Then there Gambit the film...”

He continues: “Guests would be on their way out for the evening and the doors would open and they’d see a sort-of-familiar English actor standing there with his trousers off for no good reason in the corridor.

“Self-conscious? Yes.”

Alan Rickman also strips off, as nudist Shabandar, in the opening scenes.

“I didn’t have any option,” he says, “because it says, “he takes all his clothes off.” I was frozen with alarm that this was happening at this point in my life anyway and that people were going to see this, and I looked to my right and there was a room full of extras in the next office, with glass in between us.”

He has absolutely no sympathy with Colin, he adds.

Colin laughs: “The wall was glass, and behind it was the entre financial district of London.”

Presumably Colin’s role in The King’s Speech will be at the forefront of people’s minds when they watch Gambit. Has the Oscar win changed things for him?

Cameron Diaz is clear that it has. “Now he gets to have dinner with the Queen,” she says. “I think four times while we were making this movie?

Colin appears resigned: “I think Cameron has decided that this is all I do.”

“The Queen takes up all of your day.”

Colin agrees: “Yes. I kept being busy with the Queen.”

And with that our interview draws to a close. Colin, Alan and Cameron, it has been a pleasure. 

Read our review of Gambit here

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