Like his older brother Colin, 41, who became a sex symbol in A&E's Pride and Prejudice, Firth does especially well when he lends his smoldering looks to period pieces. "He's a beautiful man," says Victoria Hamilton, his costar in the imperial love story Victoria & Albert, airing on A&E Oct. 21 and 23. With scenes of the hot-blooded young queen getting all lovey-dovey with husband Albert, "this is Victoria when she was the life of the party," says Firth. "She's likely to confound viewers' preconceptions."
They may find it harder to shake off the still-single actor's resemblance to Colin, who grew up with Jonathan and sister Kate, 37, a voice coach, in Hampshire, some 75 miles from London. But the age difference prevented any rivalry. "He was very much the little brother," says Colin. And maybe still is. When the script required Albert to frolic about in a bear suit, "Jonathan stayed in it all day," Hamilton says. "We had trouble getting him out of it."