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article imageColin Firth on the UK spy classic 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' Special

By Earl Dittman     Feb 29, 2012 in Entertainment
A penultimate spy mystery on '60's British telly, writer John Le Carré's Cold War classic ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’(now on Blu-ray & DVD) has been adapted for the big screen with a cast that includes last year’s Best Actor Colin Firth and Gary Ol
Colin Firth (who took home a Best Actor Academy Award last year for The King's Speech) costars with Gary Oldman in the new big screen adaptation of the 1960's British television series, the two are a part of a stunning all-star cast in this masterful adaptation of John Le Carré's bestselling novel that redefined the spy thriller. While the film is packed with plot numerous twists and turns, since its release, most of the plot has been leaked out, but to ensure we don't ruin the intriguing whodunit element of the film, we are offering a basic skeleton of its plot. In Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, it's the height of the Cold War and Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), a.k.a. MI6 and code-named the Circus, has been compromised. A precarious operation goes deadly wrong, and the head of British Intelligence wonders if a double agent is leaking vital secrets. Brought out of retirement to expose the potential mole, master spy George Smiley (Oldman) is the only one who can be trusted to expose one of their own. Or can he? As the emotional and physical tolls mount on the high-ranking suspects, Smiley will be forced into the ultimate international spy game where everyone's motives are in question. In addition to Firth's stunning performance as Bill Haydon, the film also includes the brilliant acting talents of Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ciarán Hinds, it's the powerful and deeply resonant spy tale.
When it came time Firth to portray his famous spy character, Bill Haydon, to play the part, director Alfredson could haveinstructed him to read a lot of John Le Carré novels or simply rely on his memory about all the Le Carré books he had ever read. Firth says he wasn't asked to do either one by the film's director. "Thomas Alfredson isn't an instructing sort of person, I'd read a few." Firth says of the Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy helmsman. "I think that everyone has. I think that he operates not in one world, but in quite a few diverse ones. I think the source material for this was the book itself, really, and he's also very eloquent about the world around this. He very much was a first hand occupant of it in a way. Spies aren't the sort of people who are going to make themselves available for research on the whole. So, if you have someone who's been as close to the intelligence service as he has then that's pretty handy."
Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Early on during the film's release, Firth was quoted as saying that Le Carré books were just little boy's tales. Despite the British presses accusation, Firth was not trying to be rude, coy and dismissive about the writer's work. "I think that was probably, certainly earlier on that was probably…I mean, he's a popular writer and I think that's a bit of a crime in the critical community," says Firth, who is currently preparing to workwith Renee Zellweger on at the Bridget Jones sequel -- Bridget Jones's Baby. "I remember somebody writing very astutely about Alan Ayckbourn, who's a great comic playwright. I think it was Michael Billington, saying that he commits the worst offenses that you can possibly commit against any judgment of being a great writer. One is that you're comic and two is that you're prolific and seen as being popular. If you're any of those things you can't be a great writer."
Do those critiques apply to actors as well? "Possibly, because those are some of the three hardest things to achieve, certainly, comedy and popularity," explains Colin, the star of the upcoming film Arthur Newman, Golf Pro. "I think that Le Carré being popular, if you weren't familiar with his work I think there could be a presumption that this was rollicking and spiced up for boys and it really is not. I think that's very apparent when you look at things like The Constant Gardener. It might be less apparent if you haven't actually read the spy stuff, the cold war stuff. I suppose because Tinker, Tailor is particularly about a men's world, women barely feature here and there are only two female roles in it, that it's about men. But it's not about the macho virtues of maleness. It's not about macho effectiveness. It's not about hard bitten heroism. I think it's actually much more about fragility and loneliness and disappointed idealism. These men are seen to be broken, all of them on some level. Smiley is not only a disappointed man, but he's a man who's humiliation is complete by the fact that it's visible to all."
Preferring to keep the better part of the spy thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy under wraps until spy fans see it, Firth declares he's up to answering all kinds of question. "I'm usually pretty boring," he says, "so you better ask the things you have been wanting to ask over the years, because you'll never get this chance again."
Colin Firth in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Colin Firth in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Colin Firth on Tinker, Tailor Soldier, Spy
[Have you gotten used to sneaking up on people since doing this movie?
"Exactly, in my Hush Puppies and my red socks."
How many institutions of the British government do you think you should play a role in?
"Oh, I see, yes. I feel there are a few left. Absolutely."
Have you played a character like this before?
"Yes, I think I have, not a very serious one, but I think that's been covered at some point."
Did the film make you think about where you were in 1973?
"I knew exactly where I was in 1973. I was going through a rather complicated adolescence and probably wearing clothes not unlike the ones that you saw in the movie."
And have you recovered?
"Yes. I've recovered nicely. I'm just about out of it now."
Colin Firth and Tom Hardy in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Colin Firth and Tom Hardy in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The homoerotic elements that were lightly touched on in the film, are those aspects of Bill and Jim's relationship? It was sort of glossed over.
"Yes. I don't think it is glossed over. I think it's more than hinted at. I think the reason why it's not made more explicit is because I think it isn't. I think the relationship is as undefined – I think it's an intense one – as the film makes it seem to be. I think they are friends and on some level or other they're lovers. I don't think the film is coy about it any more than it's coy about what we find out about the Guillam character. I don't know if there's more homosexuality abounding in the British intelligence services than there are in other institutions, but there's certainly some sort of perception that it's somehow consistent with spying in Britain."
Have you seen the spy films of the '70's, like, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold?
"That's Le Carré again. Yeah, some of them. Ipcress Files. Yeah, I like that stuff."
This film harkens back to those films because it's not about the action and guns, but more about the complexities of the world.
"Yes, I think that's true. There's room for all kinds of spy films. There has always been action involved in the spy or the detective genre. There's always been technology actually. There's always been some gadget, even if you go back to the '30's or '40's. Someone would pull out a bit of microfilm, but I think one of the things that people have found refreshing about this, aesthetically as much as anything else, is the low tech element. I mean, we're up to here now in iPads and slick designs which don't show the inner workings. Actually, I think suddenly that there's a poetry to a reel to reel tape recorder or an old typewriter or elevators where you can see the pulleys moving. What that also does is that if you don't have a machine or a microchip which solves a problem it means that it's thrown back on human ingenuity and the human element to all the puzzles and the emotions that are involved. I was reflecting recently on the business of just mobile phones in films. If you're going to take a story which is about how critical is it for one person to get information to another person and all the things that could go wrong in the meantime you could make a fantastic story out of that, except if the guy has a cell phone. It's over and problem solved before the first scene is over. So, the fact of a phone and that kind of communication, things that do things for you can really conspire against drama. It's a big problem."
How difficult do you think it is to convey the urgency that people felt back then? Now it's almost forgotten that there was a monolithic enemy in people's minds that constituted an MI6?
"What about the war on the terror?"
It's been replaced by more like that Whack-A-Mole. It's not situated in just one place.
"It's not Whack-A-Mole. It's not. There are people who really feel like they're on the frontline of intelligence gathering and it's absolutely critical. I'm not making an exact equivalent. I know what you're saying. Yes, there is a huge kind of machina duality in the way that it was setup. Monoliths on both sides. I don't think that it looks quite like that today, but I think that the paranoia is alive and the suspicion is alive and this idea that we have to infiltrate and have to gather intelligence. Instead of Reds under the beds now anyone can be a terrorists, anyone carrying a package on a plane or a backpack and the security measures. So, it's not just drones bombing Middle Eastern countries. Although, it is that."
Colin Firth in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Colin Firth in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
I feel as though this is the kind of film that people expected you to do before you won the Oscar for The King's Speech?
"I did do it before I won an Oscar."
Yes, but subsequently have the scripts changed, the ones you're being sent? Have you been getting offered films where you'd have to run around or leap off of a building?
So, nothing changed in your life after getting the Oscar?
"Three scripts turned three hundred. Three bad scripts turns into three hundred bad scripts. No, but certain things change. It's hard to discuss case by case how that is. Things are a little busier in terms of what the possibilities might be, but in the end you can only do one at a time. It's going to be a spin of the dice. It was a spin of the dice before and it's still going to be a spin of the dice."
There's been no pressure to change your tastes?
"But to what? Yes, there is probably some pressure from some corners."
Commercial, like leaping off of buildings?
"Yes. Although not much because I don't think that people consider me to be an incredibly valuable financially really. I'd have to admit that, yeah, there have been certain people around me who think it'd be a good time to get a bit richer, but not as much as you might think because most of the better opportunities, I consider them better opportunities because they still have the risk element to them. They could go either way. They could end up being fascinating or they could end up disappearing and I'm still attracted to that sort of thing."
Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
What other things have you done since then? I saw you just finished the film Arthur Newman, Golf Pro.
"I just finished that yesterday and I have great hopes for it. It was a wonderful, wonderful story to tell. It's exactly the sort of thing that makes me happy to do. I find it entirely unique. I don't think it's like anything else, just for the record. People keep calling it an untitled dark comedy. It's not that dark. Sadly it's not a comedy and I didn't think it was really very dark. So, it's just a film. It's a bit difficult to describe. That jumped out of the pile because it's not like anything else. There's absolutely no formula attached to that film at all. It gives me great satisfaction to be able to do something like that. It's a tiny film. You talk about opportunities, the recent good fortune that I've had helps films like that get going."
Do you think you would make a good spy?
"No, no."
But being an actor is a great cover...
"No. There are certain skills if you're any good as an actor that would apply to spying, like, being deceitful, the subterfuge, being able to second guess other people's motives, being forensic about other people's lives, why they do what they do, but you also have to have a great deal of physical courage in the face of peril and I don't think that actors would be great candidates in the face of having a gun pointed at you or something."
Colin Firth in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Colin Firth in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
We talked about technology earlier. When you're at home what kinds of things do you like to do that aren't technical?
"There's a lot of non-technical things. Most of it is none of your business. I don't mean that rudely."
Long walks?
"Yeah, lets say long walks and tea and family."
Do you have another project lined up?
"I'm not sure, no. There's a thing called The Railway Man which I'm hoping will go ahead."
What's that about?
"It's the story of Eric Lomax who wrote an account…he was tortured by the Japanese when he was a prisoner in world war two. He was on the Hellfire Pass Railway in Burma and it's about his attempt to reconcile what happened. He was determined to find the guard who tortured him and go back and take revenge and kill him. It's about that. It's sort of a flashback. I'm sort of the older character and Jeremy Irvine is the young actor who would play the young me, flashing back to the camps and stuff. Frank Cottrell Boyce wrote the script. He's a great writer. Jonathan Teplitzky is the director and Rachel Weiss is the actress."
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Bonus Features: (Blu-Ray) "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: First Look": Deleted Scenes; Interview with Author John Le Carré; BD-LIVE; pocketBLU app: with Advanced Remote Control; Video Timeline; Mobile-To-Go; Browse Titles; Keyboard and uHEAR. (Available on March 20, 2012)
Renowned director Martin Scorsese’s groundbreaking and original adventure Hugo makes its highly-anticipated debut on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD, all with UltraViolet. Recipient of more Academy Award nominations than any other film, Hugo was honored with 11 totalnomination —including Best Picture and Best Director—and has already won Martin Scorsese the Golden Globe for Best Director, Best Animated Film by the Oscars, was named the best film of 2011 by the National Board of Review, and was cited by more than 150 critics as one of the top 10 films of the year including writers for Associated Press, New York Times, Rolling Stone, Time and Entertainment Weekly, among others. Magical, enchanting and wonderful to see, Hugo is bursting with dynamic action, sumptuous imagery and a heartwarming and magical story that audiences of all ages can enjoy. Welcome to a magical world of spectacular adventure! When wily and resourceful Hugo discovers a secret left by his father, he unlocks a mystery and embarks on a quest that will transform those around him and lead to a safe and loving place he can call home. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese invites you to experience a thrilling journey that critics are calling the stuff dreams are made of. Hugo will be available in a three-disc Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, as well as a two-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. Bonus Features: BLU-RAY - Feature film in high definition; Shoot the Moon (The Making of Hugo); The Cinemagician, Georges Méliès; The Mechanical Man at the Heart of Hugo; Big Effects, Small Scale and Sacha Baron Cohen: Role of a Lifetime. DVD - Feature film in standard definition.
Warner Bros
Justice League: Doom
Earth’s greatest super heroes face foes on all fronts – using a plan initiated from within – in the all-new Justice League: Doom, the latest entry in the popular, ongoing series of DC Universe Animated Original Movies. Justice League: Doom finds Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Cyborg and Batman on their heels when a team of super villains discover and implement the Dark Knight’s “contingency plans” for stopping any rogue Justice League member. The story is inspired by Mark Waid’s much-heralded “JLA: Tower of Babel.” Primetime television stars Nathan Fillion (Castle) and Tim Daly (Private Practice), the reigning voices of Green Lantern and Superman, respectively, join a group of eight actors reprising their famed Justice League cartoon roles. Fillion made his debut as Green Lantern/Hal Jordan in the recent Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, and took his initial DC Universe bow as the voice of Steve Trevor in the 2008 hit Wonder Woman. Daly originated his role as Superman’s voice in the landmark cartoon, Superman:The Animated Series. He has reprised the role in two DC Universe films: the 2009 extravaganza Superman/Batman: Public Enemies and the 2010 thriller Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. The grand reunion of actors who provided the voices of the Justice League for the cartoon of the same name and its follow-up, Justice League Unlimited, includes Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series) as Batman, Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville, Breaking In) as Flash, Susan Eisenberg (Superman/Batman: Apocalypse) as Wonder Woman and Carl Lumbly (Alias) as J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter. Bumper Robinson (A Different World ) joins the cast as Cyborg. The Justice League faces two sets of villainous teams in the film – The Royal Flush Gang and a sextet of notable evildoers. The latter group includes three voice acting alumni of the Justice League animated series: Phil Morris as Vandal Savage, Olivia d’Abo as Star Sapphire, and Alexis Denisof as Mirror Master. Also opposing our heroes are Carlos Alazraqui as Bane, Paul Blackthorne as Metallo, and Claudia Black as Cheetah. David Kaufman (Danny Phantom) also reprises his Justice League role of Jimmy Olsen. Bonus Features on the Blu-Ray & DVD Combo Pack with UltraViiolet Digital Copy includes: Standard and high definition versions of the feature film; UltraViiolet Digital Copy; Sneak Peak at Superman vs. The Elite, the next DC Universe Animated Original Movie; Featurettes “A Legion of One: The Dwayne McDuffie Story," “Guarding the Balance: Batman and the JLA; Mini-featurette – “Their Time Has Come: Cyborg and the DC Universe’s New Diversity"; Creative team commentary; Two bonus episodes from the Justice League animated series handpicked by Bruce Timm: Wild Cards, Part 1 and 2, written by Stan Berkowitz and Dwayne McDuffie and Digital Comic. Visit the Young Justice Official Website at You can also catch two scenes from Doom, including "Origin of Aqualad Clip" when you click to and "Superboy Channels Anger Clip" at
Midsomers Murders Set 19
Midsomers Murders Set 19, Acorn’s best-selling series makes its highly-requested debut on Blu-ray. John Nettles stars as the unflappable DCI Tom Barnaby, with Jason Hughes (This Life) as his earnest, efficient protégé. Guest stars include James Wilby, Kenneth Cranham, and Neil Dudgeon in his first appearance as DCI John Barnaby. These episodes were produced in 2009 and have not aired in the U.S. The Mysteries: The Made-to-Measure Murders, The Sword of Guillaume, Blood on the Saddle, and The Silent Land. The cozy villages of Midsomer County reveal their most sinister secrets in these contemporary British television mysteries. Inspired by the novels of Caroline Graham, modern master of the English village mystery, the series stars John Nettles as the unflappable Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby, with Jason Hughes (This Life) as his earnest, efficient protégé, Detective Sergeant Ben Jones. Guest stars include James Wilby (Maurice), Saskia Reeves (Butterfly Kiss), Janet Suzman (Trial & Retribution), Tim McInnerny (Notting Hill) and David Rintoul (Ghost Writer; My Week with Marilyn.) Bonus Features: Behind-the-Scenes photo gallery for Blood On The Saddle.
Cartoon Network/Warner Bros
Redakai Conquer The Kairu - The Journey Begins
From the makers of the global phenomenon Bakugan Battle Brawlers and based on Spin Master Ltd.'s innovative trading card game, Redakai follows three teenage friends who are on a quest to find a mystical energy called Kairu. Redakai: Conquer The Kairu is a treasure hunt pitting teen Kairu fighters against each other -- on a journey that crisscrosses the planet, with fantastic locales and untold dangers waiting around every corner. Along the way, they'll face menacing aliens , explore dangerous ruins and try to solve the mystery of Ky's missing father. To meet these challenges, the heroes must transform the Kairu monsters and compete in an action-packed battles. No one ever said the search for Kairu would be easy. Bonus Features: "Ky's Quest" and "The Power of the Redkai."
Antonio is made an orphan when his parents are brutally murdered. As years of vengeance build up, he transforms into the relentless bounty hunter code-named "Mandrill." His sole mark is to find his parents' murderer and avenge their deaths. While on the job to capture a powerful Mafioso casino owner, Mandrill falls for his target's daughter, Dominique. As he becomes closer to her, he makes a discovery that positions Dominique as an obstacle to his ultimate revenge. Mandrill stars Marko Zaror, Alejandro Castillo, Ernesto Diaz Espinoza and Miguel Angel De Luca. Bonus Features: "Behind The Scenes"; "Anatomy Of A Fight Scene" and "Trailer."
French Fields: Complete Collection
A classic domestic comedy in the tradition of I Love Lucy, French Fields: Complete Collection, finally makes its North American DVD debut. Broadcast continually on PBS since the 1990s, the lighthearted empty nester Brit-com stars beloved actors Anton Rodgers (Lillie) and Julia McKenzie (Agatha Christie’s Marple) as a happily married couple that relocate to France in search of a change of pace. Frustrated with his daily commute and clients who don’t pay their bills, accountant William Fields (Anton Rodgers) is ready for a change. His wife, Hester (Julia McKenzie) is always up for something new, so when William gets headhunted for a job in France, both are willing to give it a try. What will the Fields make of France --and what will the French make of the Fields? William and Hester dust off their phrase books, pluck up their courage, and soon discover there’s a lot more than the Channel separating the English from the French. French Fields (1989-1991) is the sequel to the award-winning Fresh Fields, which ran for four series (1984-1986).
I Melt With You
Jeremy Piven (Entourage), Rob Lowe (Parks and Recreation), Christian McKay (Borgia, Me and Orson Welles) and Thomas Jane (Hung) star in the intense I Melt With You about friends from college who gather for one unforgettable weekend. Directed by Emmy nominee Mark Pellington (Henry Poole Is Here), the brilliant film highlighted by virtuoso visuals, pulsating music and muscular acting centers on a foursome of men approaching middle age, and burdened by the responsibilities of their respective jobs and families. To escape from their day-to-day lives, the group attends their annual weekend retreat, but it becomes increasingly clear this trip will be unlike the rest. Fueled by excess during three days of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, the men are forced to take a hard look at their lives and the choices they have made. Bonus Features: Commentary With Mark Pellington (Director), Rob Lowe (Jonathan) and Jeremy Piven (Ron); Commentary With Mark Pellington (Director), Glenn Porter (Co-Writer) and Eric Schmidt (Director Of Photography); Director's Statement; Deleted Scenes; I Melt With You Behind The Scenes; HDNet: A Look at I Melt With You; Interview With Jeremy Piven; Jeremy Piven Mood Piece; Thomas Jane Teaser; Director's Behind The Scenes Photo Gallery; Alternate Theatrical Poster Gallery; Theatrical Redband Trailer; Theatrical Greenband Trailer; International trailer and Interview With Mark Pellington.
King Of Triads
Audiences will engage in the battle for control of Hong Kong in King of Triads. Choreographed by martial artist and member of the Jackie Chan stuntman team, Chung Chi Li (Rush Hour), the film stars Simon Yam (Ip Man) and Kenneth Low (Rush Hour) with a special appearance by Suet Lam (Kung Fu Hustle). As is tradition in the Hong Kong underworld, after the execution of a crime organization's leader, a new boss is called. But after the new man in charge begins extorting the former crime head's children for money to pay off debts, the family will stop at nothing to seek redemption and seize control of the triad. (Only On DVD) Bonus Feature: Behind the scenes and interviews featurette.
Johnny English Reborn
International funnyman Rowan Atkinson (Johnny English, Mr. Bean) returns as the accidental secret agent who doesn't know fear or danger in this hilarious spy film spoof that's outrageous fun for the whole family! This hysterical spy comedy also stars Gillian Anderson (The X-Files), Dominic West (300) and Rosamund Pike (Surrogates). In his latest mission, Johnny English -- also known as Agent M17 -- has all but vanished from the Secret Service and is now sabbatical, honoring his skills at an isolated Asian temple. However, when his agency learned that a Chinese dignitary is in grave danger and Johnny English cuts his sabbatical short in order to stop a group of international assassins before they eliminate a world leader and cause global chaos. With just one shot at redemption, he will use (or misuse) the latest high-tech gadgets and every trick in his playbook to protect us all. Outrageous battles and absurd predicaments transform Johnny English into one secret agent that will keep you laughing from start to finish. Bonus Features: (Blu-Ray/DVD) Deleted/Extended scenes with introductions by director Oliver Parker; Gag Reel; "The Wheelchair Chase and Feature Commentary with Oliver Parker and screenwriter Harnish McColl. (Blu-Ray) UltraViolet; BD-LIVE; "The English Files"; "Working With Rowan"; Gadgets; "English In Hong Kong"; pocketBLU; Advance Remote Control; Video Timeline; Mobile-To-Go; Browse. Titles; Keyboard and uHEAR.
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