The Kingsman is dead, long live the Kingsman: How Colin Firth came back for the sequel
Colin Firth on returning from the dead in Kingsman: The Golden Circle
No matter the Best Actor Oscar for The King's Speech and awards for A Single Man.
To many of his die-hard fans, Colin Firth will always be Mr Darcy from the TV adaptation of Pride And Prejudice, as well as the character's modern incarnation in the Bridget Jones rom-coms.
But the 57-year-old English actor is now winning over a new generation in the wholly different genre of action comedy.
In 2015's Kingsman: The Secret Service, his dapper British spy Harry Hart aka Galahad was shot in the head and killed in action.
But English director-producer Matthew Vaughn, always aware of the fans, could not do the sequel without Firth, so of course Harry is resurrected in a super secret way, sporting a special pair of spectacles and even an eye patch.
In Kingsman: The Golden Circle, which opens here tomorrow, the British secret agents of Kingsman led by Galahad's protege Eggsy (Taron Egerton) team up with Statesman, a similar American group comprising self-made bourbon billionaires (Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry and Pedro Pascal).
Together, they aim to thwart sweetly diabolical villainess Poppy Adams' (Julianne Moore) quest to take over the world from her lair in Poppyland, an American theme park in Cambodia.
Firth admits he would have been "devastated" not to be back for the sequel, yet he "got the sense that Matthew was plotting not to lose me so soon".
He says at the Ham Yard Hotel in London: "The first shoot was quite a long one. Then it seemed to be no time at all that it was out and we were promoting it.
"During that time, Matthew was already talking about ideas for the next one and being quite determined that I would be involved. He hadn't settled on an idea, but we talked endlessly. I knew he had pretty much made the decision by the time the first one was out. And I want there to be another one, I am not ready to say goodbye to this just yet."
What can you tell us about the process of bringing Harry back from the dead?
Nobody wanted to do the facile version. The fact that there is a cartoony tone to this means that you have room to manoeuvre.
But there are still conventions to observe, however outrageous. And if you break too many rules, you lose everyone. Don't cheat, don't just say, 'Well, we could dream up a wizard who puts magic dust on the corpse.'
And Matthew didn't want it to be too easy because then it wouldn't be interesting. They were talking about, 'Is it a prequel, are we doing a sort of Godfather Part II back and forth in time?' (laughs)
We never seriously thought about the evil twin, that was something that was speculated on. Rather than saying how do we get around the problem, we are saying, 'Okay, let's treat it as a problem and make it difficult to bring Harry back.'
I think we even got some way to go if we go into a third one.
The relationship between you and Taron is almost fatherly. Can you talk about that?
It is the heart of the film. I think it anchors what could otherwise be only frivolous entertainment. And it does have its roots to some extent in our own relationship.
I don't think I'd have been back from the dead had Matthew not warmed to what was happening to me and Taron on and off screen. So I think there is real emotion. The magic came from the relationship. If you make a connection and have a friendship which is also a creative partnership, that is holy grail for all of us really.
How was it like acting with an eyepatch on?
Obviously, I can take the eye patch off any time I like, but it was an interesting thing to explore... The biggest surprise is your depth perception. It happened a couple of times where someone was giving me something, and it was not where I thought it was. And that is a bit alarming if you have to do a fight scene where distance is absolutely critical. If you are closer than you should be, you will lose a tooth or something.