This month, Colin Farrell stars in ‘The Lobster’, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. The film, shot in Ireland, tells the story of David, a man who voluntarily checks himself into a hotel with the sole purpose of finding love within 45 days. The trouble is that if they don’t find love, the residents are turned into an animal of their choice, and released into the wild.
‘The Lobster’ premiered at Cannes earlier this year, and Movies Plus (M+) Magazine caught up with Colin Farrell at the festival to chat about the actor’s feelings about relationships, how he got that impressive ‘Dad Bod’ for the film, and wonderful weirdness of ‘The Lobster’,
What drew you to ‘The Lobster’? Colin Farrell: I had fallen in love with Yorgos [Lanthimos]’s work already, based on just seeing ‘Dogtooth’, two years before I read the script for ‘The Lobster’ and I was just baffled by it. It left such an indelible mark on me. I thought it was one of the most extraordinary and both confounding and yet very clear pieces of cinema I had ever seen. The framing of it was so unusual and awkward and unsettling, and the musical cues… I just thought it was beautiful. So when ‘The Lobster’ came along I was so, so confident. I was just putting myself into the world and seeing what it would be.
Do you think the film is making a statement about the nature of relationships? CF: How one lives their lives should be afforded the opportunity to be an individual expression of many things; of your heart and your mind and your ambition; where you come from and how you’re dealing with that, what you have observed in your own parents. I certainly don’t think the film is a statement against coupledom. I, honest to god, don’t feel that I have any more ownership or understanding of this film, having lived with it for a year. It’s so open to interpretation, and in that way it’s a really generous film. It’s not trying to please the audience; it’s not trying to make sense of things for a particular demographics’ perspective, which I think is beautiful; very respectful and very honest of the filmmakers.
How did your perspective on love and relationships change over the years? CF: I think I always believed in love, and believed in the worth or the value of sharing your life with another. I have had relationships in my life… I haven’t in a while, but I think maybe when I was much younger I had seen from people who were close to me, how hard work relationships can be, and I think I’ve seen it in a way that when I was in my 20s I would go ‘If it’s that hard, you shouldn’t be in it’. I don’t know that I agree with that any more. I have seen people work through some really hard stuff, because they have made a choice to be really honest with themselves and with the other person. It’s been like watching holy work, and they have made it through. Romance is easy, and it’s beautiful and it feels warm. I have got goose bumps now, just thinking about romance.
Do you miss Ireland when you are in LA? CF: I miss Ireland in the same way that I miss my youth; I could get nostalgic for it like that, but I don’t live in a state of diasporic longing to go home or anything like that.
How was it filming ‘The Lobster’ in Ireland? CF: Gorgeous! Magic! When I get to go home, that’s the great thing; once every two or three years – whether it’s ‘Intermission’ or ‘Triage’ or ‘Ondine’ – it seems to be that every two or three years I get to go home and make a film, and I am spoiled. I love it. When I go home I have a very strong reaction and a very nostalgic reaction to being home, and it is attached to remembering my youth, driving around the city, remembering pubs and night and bars and people; the fields I used to kick a football on. Every now and then I drive back to Castleknock at maybe 2 o’clock in the morning and park outside my house, as if I am in my own self-indulgent film. It’s complex. For me, it’s a very deep experience to have been shaped, moulded, formed by that country, which is only ever a reflection of its history, and its history is very colourful and very painful and quite recent. I love going home to shoot.
How did you prepare for ‘The Lobster’? You have a fairly impressive Dad Bod going on! CF: There was just eating, eating, eating, eating. My sister would go for a walk around the hotel grounds after the shooting day, and go ‘Do you want to go for a walk?’ and I would go ‘I can’t!’ [laughs] I had the ability to, although I would be more out of breath, but I can’t burn the calories. It was literally 8,000-10,000 calories a day of s**t.
Was the will to do the role justice stronger than the vanity you have as an actor? CF: There is a vanity to putting on that weight as well. I ran out of memory from taking selfies! [laughs] I was sending pictures to friends… I was fascinated because the human body is the world’s great laboratory. Whether we realise it or not, we are all experimenting with it every day, and the effects of what I did to my body physically and a little bit emotionally and psychologically as well; my sleep changed and everything. It was bizarre.
Did it change the way you thought of the character? CF: Yeah, well that became a truth; there was no getting out of that body. I could return to my normal patterns of speech and my normal movements, but I strayed less from this character over the two or three months that we were doing it by virtue of having that body. I couldn’t get away from it. When we wrapped ‘The Lobster’ and I went back to Los Angeles, I sat on my couch and went ‘I am finished ‘The Lobster’ I’m not really!’ My belly was still there. I had to get up the mountain. So it did really place me somewhere that was really far from the self that I recognise for 36-37 years. You also realise how much you identify with what you are physically. It was interesting.
What was it like for you to go back to TV on TRUE DETECTIVE? CF: I loved it. It was no different from film, except in the way that every film experience is different. Practically, it wasn’t that different for me than shooting a film. It was bigger than a lot of the films I have done; it was bigger budgetarily than ‘The Lobster’, it was bigger than ‘Miss Julie’. It was a beast of a thing to shoot over five and a half months.
‘The Lobster’ is released in Irish cinemas on October 16th