Colin Firth’s sensitive take on the stammering King George VI in The King’s Speech has swept the boards at this year’s film awards, topped by the biggest prize of all, the Best Actor Oscar for Firth.
So what better subject for Astroair’s next “Written In the Stars” installment, an occasional series on how the characters that actors play are reflected in their birth chart.
IMDB describes The King’s Speech as “the story of the man who became King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II. After his brother abdicates, George ('Bertie') reluctantly assumes the throne. Plagued by a dreaded stammer and considered unfit to be king, Bertie engages the help of an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue. Through a set of unexpected techniques, and as a result of an unlikely friendship, Bertie is able to find his voice and boldly lead the country through war.”
So where is Bertie in Firth’s chart? (Please note that without a birth time, a noon chart with Sun on the ASC is being used).
|Click on the chart to enlarge|
The first striking thing about Firth’s chart is the strong Virgo, with Sun, Mercury, North Node and Pluto all sharing the sign of the perfectionist. Humble and self-critical, Virgo often lacks self confidence and shies away from public recognition. This is certainly the picture painted of Bertie in the opening scenes, as we are made keenly aware of his fear of public speaking due to a debilitating stammer. But Virgo is also a sign that needs to strive towards self improvement, so with the help of his wife he unsuccessfully works his way through every speech therapist in town before finally and reluctantly putting himself in the hands of the unconventional Lionel Logue.
A trine from Saturn in Capricorn to Firth’s Virgo planets is interesting. Saturn in Capricorn is self-disciplined, traditional, conservative hard working and reliable. Reflecting this, Bertie is depicted as a family man who takes his responsibilities seriously, fearing disapproval from his critical father. Bertie is not without a safe family haven though, as witnessed in the orderly but touching scenes of Bertie looking comfortable at home with his wife and daughters. These scenes are in stark contrast to the depiction of his older brother Edward’s decadent partying.
Saturn in Capricorn needs authority and a defined position in society, but Saturn is retrograde and with a retrograde planet, there is often a sense of missing out on something in the early on, but getting a second chance later in life. After an early life when he was mostly kept away from public life by his family because of his disability, such is his karma (Saturn trine North Node) that when his brother, King Edward VIII, abdicates, Bertie succeeds to the throne and gets his chance to serve (Sun in Virgo) and claim his rightful place in society (Saturn in Capricorn). As Bertie is preparing to be King in a country headed towards war, he knows that with position and power come responsibility and hard work (Sun-Pluto in Virgo trine Saturn in Capricorn). If he is to speak for the nation, then the King’s (Sun) Speech (Mercury) needs to be perfect (Virgo).
As the movie reaches its climax, Bertie, crowned King George VI, makes a rousing radio speech to the whole country. The Virgo perfectionist’s quest for self improvement has worked, with the realisation that he will never be completely perfect, but can do a fine job and more than fulfil his duty nevertheless. His Venus in Libra – a placement that seeks approval and popularity - seems fulfilled.
In the movie, the man behind Bertie’s success is unorthodox speech therapist Lionel Logue. The square to Venus in Libra from Saturn in Capricorn in Firth’s chart seems obvious when the two men first meet. Bertie is stiff and refuses to relax and let himself go, something he needs to do to benefit from Lionel’s methods. Venus-Saturn squares suggest a fear of letting others in and difficultly letting go and relaxing in social situations. Indeed, it’s easy to see how Bertie’s stammer would lead him to create defences around him in public and social situations. Not only that, but Lionel’s insistence that the two men must be equals in his consulting room is deeply unsettling for a man who is defined, elevated and restricted by his high social status (Venus-Saturn). Perhaps Lionel is reflected in Firth’s Mars in Gemini which forms a t-square with Sun and Mercury in Virgo and Jupiter in Sagittarius. There’s certainly a funny scene, a breakthrough in the relationship and the treatment, when Bertie loses his temper and unleashes a long litany of swearwords delivered without a hint of a stammer.
Ultimately though, Lionel breaks down Bertie’s emotional barriers and with them his fears of public speaking. The two men form a lifelong friendship, reflecting the positive side of Venus-Saturn, which is that once the person feels secure in a relationship, a deep and long lasting bond based on loyalty, affection and respect is possible.
Another feature of Firth’s chart is the fact that he has no planets in water signs, save for a Neptune in Scorpio that he shares with the rest of his generation. Lack of water is often reflected in a difficulty in expressing one’s emotions. This is obvious in Firth’s depiction of Bertie and in Firth’s other iconic character portrayal, Mr Darcy in the TV adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. There is a classic scene, both sexy and hilarious, which beautifully illustrates both a perfect antidote to and an expression of, the lack of water in Firth’s chart. Darcy emerges from an impulsive swim in the lake, only to be met by love interest Elisabeth Bennet, which prompts him to immediately launch into an awkward exchange of constrained social niceties, totally at odds with the fact that he’s dripping wet and in his underwear! This wet shirt scene perfectly illustrates the passion beneath Darcy’s uptight public image and his difficulty expressing his emotions and notably, this was THE scene that catapulted Firth to sex symbol status!
Congratulations on the Oscar!