Colin Firth does not understand why people are attracted to Mr Darcy from 'Pride and Prejudice'.

Colin Firth

Colin Firth

The 55-year-old actor famously played the iconic Jane Austen character in a 1995 TV adaptation of the novel - but remains bemused by Mr Darcy's popularity among women.

He confessed: "Women being attracted to him took me by surprise.

"Jane Austen writes very well about women, but she doesn't really write about men from their perspective, and when I took on the role of Darcy it seemed to me that he was imperious and stiff and forbidding, and I didn't know what there was to play apart from him scowling all the time."

The role proved to be a landmark moment in Firth's career, but he still cannot explain the allure of the character.

The Oscar-winning star told the Daily Mail newspaper: "I thought it would be quite fun and liberating to play someone who was completely and utterly dislikeable, unsympathetic, judgemental and snobbish.

"I didn't have to think about bringing charm to the role - the way I saw it, I just had to stand there and make everyone hate me ... then this weird thing happened where people liked him, which wasn't what I was expecting at all! We're 20 years on and I still don't understand it."

Firth stars as Mr Darcy in the 'Bridget Jones' franchise - and he considers that character to be considerably more likeable.

But he added: "I know people who are as introverted as he is, but there are very, very few people who are quite as emotionally constipated.

"I'm not, myself. I mean, when I'm on my best behaviour and in public, I do revert to a kind of English politeness. And when I'm in Italy, where my wife is from, I do feel very English. But I'm not as repressed as Mark Darcy."