John le Carré: The author's official website

'It was a bit like God visiting': Colin Firth Describes John le Carré's Appearance On-Set

‘Britain, like every nation, chooses for her spies people who are brilliant at complicity, people who have grown up and been groomed into a double life’.
Colin Firth

Martyn Palmer of the Mail interviewed Colin Firth about his role in the forthcoming film ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’, and his experiences of John le Carré.

‘I play (London Station chief) Bill Haydon, one of the five people at the top of the operation at the Circus who could be the mole. Haydon has a lighter approach than the others; he’s a joker and somewhat predatory and he’s known to be a bit of a boy when it comes to the girls – and indeed the boys. There’s a sense of mischief and sleaze about him, but he’s also charming and urbane.

I was riveted when I watched Tinker, Tailor on television in the Seventies. That led me to read some of le Carré’s other books, like The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. I found putting the pieces together was exciting. I found the characters incredibly vivid.

‘The thing that keeps coming up in book after book is how lonely these characters are. I don’t want to sound too airy-fairy when I talk about the book, but that urban melancholy and isolation in a very sophisticated, rather merciless world is, I think, the thing that actually hits the spot with readers.

In Tinker, Tailor these guys are all hardbitten, highly trained, extremely unsentimental and all somehow disappointed idealists or bruised.

It was a bit like God visiting when le Carré appeared on set for the Circus party scene. He is the man who created the world that you are in, incarnate right there among you. Everything you’re saying, the clothes you’re wearing and the characters you’re playing are all products of this man’s incredible imagination.

I’ve known le Carré for some years and we’ve had lunch together a couple of times. He is one of the most erudite, interesting, civilised dining companions I’ve ever known. He has an extraordinary grace. I also think he has enormous humanity. He is a man whose imagination is very much alive – you know there isn’t a banal or conservative (with a small ‘c’) bone in his body. He constantly seems to be rethinking and challenging received wisdom’.

Read more of Colin Firth’s opinions in the full article on the Mail website here

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