Born in Grayshott, Hampshire, Colin Firth comes from an academic background; he spent his early childhood in Nigeria before returning to England at the age of five. He made his West End stage debut as Guy Bennet in Julian Mitchell's Another Country. Due to that performance, he went on to make his film debut as Tommy Judd in the film version of Another Country (1984). Despite such a promising start to his career, he spent much of the next 10 years working on obscure film projects, or in television, notably as the darkly brooding Mr. Darcy in the BBC's costume drama Pride and Prejudice (1995).
Firth played key roles in subsequent features without establishing himself as a leading actor, appearing as the caddish Simon Westward alongside Minnie Driver in Circle of Friends (1995). He next appeared as Kristin Scott Thomas' cuckolded husband in The English Patient (1996) and earned critical kudos and a host of new fans.