Brit treasure Colin Firth has long been in the hearts of British cinema-goers (as well as Jane Austen aficionados!), but after his portrayal of stammering reluctant monarch King George VI Firth has been catapulted to true superstar status.
He will be seen next in the new art heist caper Gambit, scripted by the Coen brothers. Private art curator Harry Deane (Firth) devises a finely-crafted scheme to con England's richest man and avid art collector, Lionel Shabandar (Alan Rickman), into purchasing a fake Monet painting.
In order to bait his buyer, he recruits a Texas rodeo queen (Cameron Diaz) to cross the pond and pose as a woman whose grandfather liberated the painting at the end of WWII.
To celebrate the UK release of Gambit on November 21st, we take a look over the meteoric rise of Britain's leading manã– from Mr Darcy to Mamma Mia and back again!
Gambit sees a return to quintessential British form for Firth, in this London-based crime caper. Tired of being abused by boss Lionel Shabandar (Alan Rickman), Harry Deane (Firth) concocts a plan to con him out of £12 million.
With Texan rodeo queen PJ (Cameron Diaz) in tow, Deane attempts to pull of the ultimate heist – but not everything, in fact NOTHING, goes according to plan!
2. Pride and Prejudice
Firth's iconic portrayal of Jane Austen's brooding Mr Darcy sent a million hearts fluttering. Whether diving into a lake, glaring across a crowded ballroom or secretly helping the Bennett sisters – Firth ensured Darcy's place in the hall of eternally swoon-worthy leading men. A real classic.
The series may have hit TV screens back in 1995 and yet it remains one of Firth’s most memorable roles and it really cemented him as a leading man.
3. The King's Speech
The proverbial cherry on Colin Firth's cake, Tom Hooper's exploration of the impromptu ascension of King George VI – and the speech therapist that helped him conquer his fears – received critical adulation.
The movie was a fine balance of humour, drama and emotion with Firth and Rush in particular having a great onscreen chemistry and relationship.
Firth won an Oscar for his sensitive portrayal of the nervous King, with co-stars Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham-Carter also nominated for awards.
It was only the second time in his career that Firth had been nominated for an Oscar.
4. Bridget Jones
Another Mr Darcy, this time in the adaptation of Helen Fielding's classic novel following Bridget Jones: single girl, calorie counter, diary-writer extraordinaire.
Seduced by the sly and handsome Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), it is the reticent (and occasionally downright rude!) Mark Darcy who ultimately wins out.
There is a great rivalry between Grant and Firth in the movie and their fight scene is one of the best in a rom-com.
The Edge of Reason followed and a third film is in the pipeline with Firth and co all expected to reprise their roles.
5. A Single Man
Tom Ford's directorial debut was never going to be anything less than awe-inspiring, and A Single Man did not disappoint.
Firth takes on the title role as George, an English professor struggling to cope with a catastrophic loss. Julianne Moore and Nicholas Hoult make a fantastic supporting cast in this beautiful elegiacal feature.
A Single Man was the first time that Firth was nominated for an Oscar and it would be just twelve months later when he got his hands on the most coveted prize in film.
This movie really marked a turn in Firth’s career and in the years since he has seen it rocket once more.
6. Mamma Mia!
In the smash-hit musical, Firth took a great comic turn as Harry – one of three potential fathers of the bride!
Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfried) wants to walk down the aisle with her father, so she invites the three potentials to her Greek island wedding – hoping that she will immediately recognise one as her dad. Set to a backing of ABBA, this sing-a-long extravaganza is a hilarious look at the bonds of family.
Mamma Mia! Is a movie that is a lot of fun and showed of the fun side of the Firth as well as all of the other actors involved in the movie.
7. Love Actually
In this exploration of love through 10 interlinking narratives, Firth plays Jamie – a writer crushed by his girlfriend's infidelity.
Retiring to his French cottage, Jamie meets Portuguese housekeeper Aurélia. Despite their initial lack of linguistic common ground, romance soon blossoms...
8. Girl With A Pearl Earring
The circumstances surrounding the creation of Johannes Vermeer's famous painting is the subject of this beautifully shot film, based on the Tracey Chevalier novel. Colin Firth plays the painter himself, entranced by maid Scarlett Johansson's virginal beauty.
Peter Webber's film is a stunning homage to Vermeer's art, with cinematographer Eduardo Serra rightly nominated for an Oscar. Luminous and ambitious work.
9. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Another British modern classic, this time sourced from John le Carré's 1974 spy novel. Focussing on suspected corruption within the British secret service in the dark days of the Cold War.
Firth's Bill Haydon is one of the agents over which the shadow of suspicion lies, but in the world of espionage it's hard to know just who is on the right side.
10. Shakespeare in Love
An unusual dastardly turn for Firth as the domineering Lord Wessex, determined to prevent the blossoming relationship between Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow) and William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes).
Their story of thwarted romance provides Shakespeare with the material for Romeo and Juliet.
Gambit is released in UK cinemas on November 21st