Colin Firth plays Taron Egerton’s mentor in Matthew Vaughn’s soon-to-be released spy filmKingsman: The Secret Service. GQ finds out what it was like working with Sir Michael Caine, and what Egerton made of his first bespoke suit.
On being and becoming a British icon:
Colin Firth: A great British icon is not the phrase I’d use about anybody, but there are people you admire that happen to be British. I think it’s a phrase that gets attached to anyone who’s been around long enough to become overfamiliar.
Taron Egerton: That’s a very cynical view! I think a British icon is someone who conducts themself with real dignity, someone who is truly talented and modest. These are things that I would aspire to in my career.
CF: I wouldn’t presume to advise Taron on anything, he knows his job as well as anyone I’ve ever worked with – he’s got that innately. He’s got a great deal of grace and humility and as a colleague he treats everybody extremely well. If he wasn’t, if he was behaving like a shit, I dare say I might intervene. But contrary to popular belief, most people in our business are very, very decent.
TE: That’s one of the things that I really, really appreciated on set, that Colin is enough of a good bloke – he would never presume to give me advice unless I sought it. That’s part of what he did to level the playing field. Despite the vast gap in our stature as performers – how established Colin is and how green I am – him doing that made me feel very confident.
CF: But the problems we’ve encountered are not age-dependent. If Taron has a bad day where he finds it difficult to nail something, I know it all too well. Not because I remember it from my youth, but probably because I had one yesterday.
It’s quite interesting for me, I’m 54 and I’m working with someone who’s 25, and Sir Michael Caine – I don’t know how old he is but he’s probably the same difference the other way – and here we all are, all sitting on wooden chairs, all drinking tea out of plastic cups, exchanging anecdotes, basically with the same job description.
CF: I think that the illusion of a suit that works – if you are lucky enough to have one that makes you look good – is that the style emanates from you. It doesn’t. The suits do the work. And I’m in other people’s hand for this; we are in other people’s hands. We are actors who show up for work in our sloppy gear and we’ve got this extraordinary tailor. It’s someone else who’s done the design; someone else who’s cut the suit; someone else who’s measured it. Basically your job is to just wear it. The thing is that anybody looks good in the right clothes. It will affect your bearing. It will affect your demeanor. It informs the way you behave.
I enjoyed wearing the [Kingsman] suit immensely; Martin Nicholls – our tailor – is a genius. He’s precise and you really feel you’re in the hands of a maestro. The big turning point for me though, and it was pretty important, was Tom Ford. His suits are beautiful. That’s when I first discovered how transformative a suit can feel.
TE: I can’t claim to have a huge knowledge of fashion trends, but I’d never worn a bespoke suite before and I think I have developed a certain taste for them – particularly ones designed to fit every contour of your body. It feels like it clicks into place. You do feel very, very empowered.