Colin Firth has played Mr. Darcy in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice and Mr. Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’s Diary, but it’s his role as a gay British professor in Tom Ford’s A Single Man that may have Firth seeing Oscar gold. Firth was nominated Feb. 2 for the Best Actor trophy for his role as George Falconer, a professor struggling to survive after the accidental death of his longtime partner, played by Matthew Goode. Set in 1962, around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the movie follows George over a single day as he contemplates his bleak, monotonous future. Firth has also starred in Love Actually, Girl With a Pearl Earring, Valmont, The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, and Fever Pitch.
For years, the name Tom Ford has been associated with fashion: He was, after all, the man credited with reviving the almost bankrupt Gucci empire, and then he started a couture label of his own. Ford has also earned plenty of attention for his provocative advertising, which often uses erotic imagery (including plenty of nudity) to sell fashion and fragrances. Now the Texas native, a onetime actor and model himself, has put his eye for design and his creative sensibilities to work in the service of silver-screen storytelling, translating a ’60s-vintage novel into an elegantly controlled, eloquently stylish film called A Single Man. (See and hear Bob Mondello’s review.) Based on the book by Christopher Isherwood, it stars British actor Colin Firth as a gay literature professor in 1962 Los Angeles, struggling to come to terms with the death of his lover in a society that still insists on the invisibility — the impossibility — of their relationship. Tom Ford joins Fresh Air host Terry Gross to talk about his rise from minor designer to fashion titan, and about his new venture into filmmaking.