With his dashing good looks, he has won millions of hearts - and even an award for being Britain's most attractive man.

So Colin Firth is probably better placed than most of us to know what a burden it is to be beautiful.

Despite his successful film career, the Oscar-winning actor claims that good looks can actually be a hindrance in today's image-obsessed society.

He said: 'There was a time when a beautiful person was considered something fine and to be celebrated.


'Now a beautiful person is assumed to be shallow and flaky. If you are beautiful in today's society, you are presumed to have no substance.

'I think a lot of talented and very bright people who are also physically beautiful have to work very hard if they don't want to just lean on their looks.

'I think there's resentment, there is the feeling that you can't have it all. I think the complexities of our own urban lives mean that there are opportunities for people who are not physically beautiful.

'I think it is rather expected that if you want to become a professor, that you don't look like someone from Baywatch.

'And I think someone that has the mind of a professor and also looks like Baywatch would just piss people off because they don't want them to have all of that.'

And while the 51-year-old made his debut on Vanity Fair's international best dressed list last year, it seems he is as uncomfortable with his reputation as a style symbol as he is with his good looks.

He insisted his celebrity status - which started with his role as Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice in 1995 and led up to his recent appearance as George VI in The King's Speech - had made things very simple in the fashion department.

He said: 'It's been easy so far because I have someone who has dressed me right down to my socks.

'I think if you know you are going to get photographed you put some thought into it, but as much as possible I like to leave the decision to someone else.

'It used to be my wife, but then there are increasingly designers who offer you things and have great relationships with you and if you like what they do then it gets taken out of your hands.

'Actors are notoriously bad dressers. Between roles they don't know how to put themselves together any more.

'If you have just taken off a Victorian frock and you are about to go into the 1950s, you actually spend most of the rest of the time in T-shirts and pyjamas. So then when the events come along, if there is somebody out there who can say, "I've got a suit for you. Don't worry, I know your measurements", I know it sounds awfully spoiled, but I'll take that.

'I am not very good at thinking about it or designing the look myself. There are one or two actors who seem to have this flair and I don't know how they have it. They get out on the red carpet and they look amazing every time. I'm just getting older.'

The son of academics - his father David was a history lecturer, and his mother Shirley specialised in comparative religion - Firth admitted his parents still hadn't fully come to terms with his career choice.

In the interview with website The Talks, he said: 'I think they quite like it when I play a role that they consider to be rather worthy of the profession, a role where calling yourself an actor isn't an apology.

'It will inevitably be something Shakespearean that they consider superior. When I just prance around in Mamma Mia! or something like that, I'm not sure how they reconcile themselves with the son they produced.'