If you have heard the rumors (or even if you have not), I am here to confirm them: Yes, I, Erin Knightley, met, spoke with, hugged, and took a picture with the one, the only Mr. Colin Firth on Wednesday last. And yes, I am still swooning at having actually touched Mr. Darcy.
I also must, regrettably, confirm another unexpected truth of myself. Though I am a writer by trade, trained in the art of the manipulation of language into the most pleasing arrangement possible, there were only two words I was able to spit out when faced with communicating with the Oscar-winning, British accent speaking, taller-than-expected actor. Despite the clever and perfectly droll little bits of conversation I had dreamed up on the way there with just such a fortuitous meeting in mind, I took one look at the handsome, long-admired figure advancing upon me and my brain cells promptly abandoned me, fainting like preteens at a Justin Bieber concert and leaving me with this blathering bit of nonsense:
“Er, uh, you’re… you’re wonderful!”
*palm to forehead* Really? Really? A good half million words under my belt as a writer and that’s what I say in that crucial moment? Was this what Ralphie had felt like in A Christmas Story, plotting and planning for weeks what he would say to Santa (Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!), only to choke the moment he was face to face with the fat man himself, nodding dumbly at the prospect of a nice football?
But alas, it’s not quite the same. Ralphie, after all, seized the moment to stop his descent on the red slide of death, claw his way back up, and spout off the exact thing he had wanted to say in the first place, albeit with a somewhat maniacal gleam in his eyes. Now, this tactic may have earned him a boot to the forehead, but at least he had taken the opportunity.
Alas, my moment was over almost as soon as it had started. Colin was humble, and gracious, and very patient with us dumbstruck fans, but the man had a job to do, and he was quickly whisked away back to the set, ready to resume filming. So here I am, a speechless writer so lost for words, she couldn’t even convey to her romance idol exactly how much he meant to her and the romance world at large.
Well, guess what. I may not have clawed my way up the red slide of dumbstruck silence at the time, but what is a blog if not a forum to write out all the things I want to say? So here it is. Carpe Diem, no matter how late:
Dear Mr. Firth,
I think every woman can remember the moment that she witnessed what love must truly look like, what it must truly even feel like. There are movies aplenty where love is presented in all of it’s passionate and over-the-top glory, but we, the critical viewer, knows that this is merely the kind of obvious and too-quickly-resolved romance that is manufactured to evoke a smile or perhaps a few tears. But then, there are those precious few that seem to get it all right. They invites their rapt viewers to watch, to dream, to envy, to imagine what it must feel like to not just observe, but to actually be that heroine, gazing into the eyes of her very own hero.
You, Mr. Firth, have evoked these feelings from the audience for not just one or two movies, but through many. You are the leading man in no less than three of my favorite movies, Love Actually, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and of course, the incomparable Pride and Prejudice. The last is truly a masterpiece, so beloved that even fifteen years later, it is every bit as powerful and compelling as the day it first came out.
The words were the author’s, but the delivery was all yours. Your glaze slid through Elizabeth Bennet right to our own hearts. We weren’t just watching a movie, we were experiencing it. Your effortless portrayal of one of the greatest heroes of all time moved us, drawing us in to this timeless story, making our hearts pound and our breath catch. You mastered the complexities of Mr. Darcy’s character, conveying his love and inner struggle with little more than a searing look or a pregnant pause. You made him human, approachable, real to the extent that we could imagine Mr. Darcy’s intense gaze settling upon us, loving us, wanting us with a reserved passion that supersedes all else.
For those of us who have known the joy of true love, your performance reminded us of that feeling when the world slips away, and it is just you and your beloved. It made us turn to our loved one with refreshed joy, remembering those days of butterflies tickling our stomachs at the mere sound of his voice. For those who have never known love, watching your portrayal of Mr. Darcy could, for some small moment in time, fill that place for them, showing them the depths of the heart and all the goodness that could come from it.
I must clarify that it is you the actor, not the just character that you play. It is the softness of voice, the certain indefinable quietness that makes one wonder if shyness lurks beneath that handsome, movie-star façade. It’s a vulnerability that, no matter how brazen the character, somehow still simmers in the background and manages to tug at the heart strings. It’s that certain approachability, that talent of drawing us in and making us believe.
Some people may look at the gathering of women waiting around for an autograph or a photo with their favorite actor to be silly or even a bit pathetic. But I see woman who have known joy from the work you have done. The flushed cheeks and shining eyes—not to mention tied tongues—reflect the sigh of bliss they have all experienced at some point thanks to a smile, a character, a perfectly delivered speech or even a single fathomless look.
Is there any better measure of success for an actor? To know that what you do matters because someone is better off because of it?
Thank you for your working to bring our favorite characters to life in such a way that we cannot help but love them. Be it Mr. Darcy, Mr. Mark Darcy, or even Jamie Bennett or King George IV, you make us truly care about their struggles, and therefore rejoice in their triumphs. Your portrayals inspire those of us who peddle in creativity, making us strive even more to create that perfect hero in all his perfectly flawed and inherently human glory.
And that, in my eyes, makes you a hero in your own right