Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth both won Oscars for playing historical figures (her as Virginia Woolf in "The Hours," and him as George VI in "The King's Speech"). So it's only natural that they portray real people again in their first — but not last — on-screen pairing.
In "The Railway Man," Firth plays Eric Lomax, who as a young man was deployed as a Signals officer in the Pacific theater. He was captured after the Fall of Singapore and became a prisoner of war. His Japanese captors forced him to help build the "Death Railway" through the thick jungles of Thailand.
The physical and mental torture Lomax endured left him psychologically scarred, but when he found love later in life with nurse Patricia Wallace (played by Kidman), he sought treatment. Eventually, it lead him to confront one of his torturers, who himself was attempting to put the pain of the war behind him. Lomax later put his story in a book which serves as the basis for the new movie.
Unlike King George VI, who died nearly 60 years before Firth played him, Lomax was still alive when the actor got the part. Firth told the BBC that he was able to meet with Lomax and his wife in person before he started work on the film. Firth said, "It was important to me to meet them, it focused me and it was something that was very sobering." He said the grand scale of the story was initially intimidating, "but to meet Eric personalized it and humanized it." Lomax did later pass away in October of 2012 at the age of 93.
Firth and Kidman must have enjoyed their time working together, because they have two more films in the pipeline. They co-star in the psychological thriller "Before I Go to Sleep" for this year, and in December they both star in the live-action adaptation of the children's book "Paddington." In it, Kidman plays the villain, Millicent, and Firth provides the voice of the computer-generated titular bear.
"The Railway Man" will arrive in theaters soon.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Colin Firth
- Nicole Kidman
- Eric Lomax
- George VI