Colin Farrell ('Phone Booth')
'Hangin' On The Telephone!'
Dublin-born Colin Farrell, was already a star back home in Ireland thanks to his role as Danny Byrne on the hit series 'Ballykissangel'. After two years on the series, he left and landed, among other places, on the London stage, and finally, LA, where he got an agent. Farrell's big break came in his critically-praised role as rebellious Bozz in Joel Schumacher's Vietnam-era drama 'Tigerland'. Farrell then followed that with a role in the World War II drama 'Hart's War', the Pacino-led blockbuster 'The Recruit', Hollywood big-hitters 'Minority Report' and 'Daredevil', and is finally to appear on the big screen in the much-delayed Schumacher thriller, 'Phone Booth' - a role that was previously offered to Will Smith and Jim Carrey!
Taking some time out with the passionate Irishman, I first reminded him that he'd made mention to the fact that Al Pacino ('The Recruit') was quite a laugh. Knowing this to be quite a surprising side to the great one, I wondered if it had come as a surpirse to Farrell himself? "I thought he'd be quite serious. He is quite serious about the work - I've never seen focus like it - and has a very acute passion for what he does. But he's just a funny b******. He had a really quirky sense of humour, and he's a quirky little fella."
Did you do much research into the CIA? "No. I never do, really. I didn't want to know much about the CIA. I didn't need to. I prefer to just work with the material on the day when you're filming."
When you look at things you've said in press conferences, afterwards do you ever wish you'd kept your mouth shut? "If I think it, it passes pretty quick. I've read things and thought, Oh God! But it passes. But who cares? If someone does, then that's their problem. Opinions change all the time. I'm a 26-year-old man trying to find my way in the world. I have a certain way of talking and explaining myself, but when you read it in print, it comes across very differently. But I don't want to start watching everything I say, and try and fit in. Without saying anything for the shock factor, I just want to keep spilling things out of my mouth, off the top of my head."
Was it tough filming 'Phone Booth' in such a manner that your character never gets to leave the damn Booth throughout the movie?! "Tough, nah, I wouldn't say it was the toughest job. 'Hart's War' was f***ing tough. It was so long and so depressing, and it was cold and grey. Four and a half months, man, it was f***ing bleak. But 'Phone Booth', just for the intensity. I mean, if 'Hart's War' was a marathon, 'Phone Booth' was a 100-meter sprint. It was tough. Great tough, though. You know, Michael Caine once said, "Pay me for the waiting around, the acting's for free." It's a great spoke. You're still overpaid for both, but most of the tedium that arises on a film set is from the standing around, eating the craft services and scratching our balls and talking s***. You're bored out of your brain. And the actual acting part is the fun. On 'Phone Booth', there was very little waiting around. Because we had twelve days to shoot this whole thing, so it was just, go, go, go. Ten to twelve pages of dialogue a day. So it was a head-f***. My nerves were a bit f***ed by the end of that film!"
Did you feel much pressure after everyone said you were the next big thing?! "I live in the real world. When you've had the luck that I've had and the career that I've had - especially over the last three and a half years - and when these companies are giving me these large sums of money... that should be justified in the box office return. So I don't feel pressure from people saying what I should be, but I do feel a pressure that there should be a return. It was nice to be in something that did decently here in the States ('The Recruit'), and it was nicer than being in 'Hart's War,' as I just explained. That was a killer! Like I say, you put five months of your life into something, get overpaid, and then in the space of two days, it's done. For everyone involved it's a nightmare, so it is nice to be in stuff that does work."
How does your natural and honest approach go down with people? "I don't think I've changed over the last few years. Well, I've changed, but not as a result of the position I've found myself in. It's much more simple than what I'm given credit for. It shows you what has happened to some people in my position. It's a statement on the business - and people in the business - that I get kudos for being down-to-earth and respecting people. What does that say about the business? It is just the way I was brought up. I have a good family and have great friends. I have a great time with everyone that I work with. Everyone knows that I work as hard as I can and they work as hard as they can, and yet we have to be able to have a laugh at the same time."
Do you plan to go back to Ireland and make films and set up a production company there? "I'd love to. I am just following a path now that isn't exactly preordained for me but I'm tripping over each brick I come across. That took me back to Dublin last August and I know it will take me back again. I am going to Toronto to do a gig next and other bits and pieces, but yes, in the future I would love to bring some work and some productions to Dublin, to Ireland. The Irish film industry is not doing great at the moment and it does need a kick-start. Pierce Brosnan has come back to do some stuff, and Jim Sheridan is writing scripts. Jim is gonna make stuff there again. I am still trying to figure out this acting thing. I still don't think I have any grasp on it but when I grow up, yeah."
How important are your parents and your grandparents in keeping your feet on the ground? And, are you a mummy's boy?! "Yes I am. She is always there. Getting her on to the set is one thing, getting her off again is a different story. She is my best pal in the world. Anything I am or anything I hope to be, I have to thank her. My dad I get on all right with. We are not as close as me and my mother, but we get on OK. But they are both important to me. And my grandparents are, too. With respect to keeping my feet on the ground, they are no more important than my brother and my sisters and a couple of my friends. They are the important things in my life and they always have been and always will be. Nothing changed."
What is the strangest story you've read about yourself in the papers? "You just wonder where they get those stories from. Where do they pluck them from? Like the one about me driving down a freeway in LA. Apparently I pulled in and mended a tow truck that was broken down and got oil all over my shirt. I was on my way to a party and the girls were all over me because I was a stud with oil on my shirt ... I couldn't fix a toaster!!!! And then Gwyneth Paltrow dumped me. I've never even met her! You read bizarre things, but it's gonna happen!"
After 'Daredevil' and the up-coming, hevaily delayed 'Phone Booth', are you intending to do more light-hearted films? "I had a load of fun doing 'Daredevil'. It was nice to check the subtlety in at the door. Talk about an overbaked performance, but it was fun. I have no master plan. I never have had. Having said that, it would be nice to have a career that mixes things up and do different types of stuff to keep it interesting."
What is the best and advice you've ever been given? "Pacino said to me, 'If you're gonna do big movies, then do something that you like.' Even in big commercial movies, you can find characters that you can be sympathetic towards. Don't just do stuff that's s*** and take the money. Make sure there is something you want to work with."
Interviewed by Jason Powell for Exclusive Magazine
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