Colin talks about this weekend’s Pride and Glory and the final Heath Ledger movie The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus.
Pride and Glory are not two words you would have associated with Colin Farrell a couple of years ago. The world watched as our local boy went off the rails and lost himself in a battle with drink and drugs.
Now he is two years clean and insisting he is a changed man – and back to his former glory days. Colin talks honestly about how he still has an ongoing struggle through thedark days – and even though his relationship with drink and drugs almost killed him he still keeps his vices at arms reach. He’s also keen to chat about his battles on-screen. In his new action-filled movie Pride and Glory Colin plays Jimmy Egan, acorrupt New York cop who is suspected of being part of a plot that left four policemen dead. And his next role sees Colin, 32, filling Heath Ledger’s role in The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus.
After Heath’s sudden death earlier this year, Colin agreed to take on thep art of Tony alongside his pals Jude Law and Johnny Depp. And now the world is waiting with bated breath to see how the sweet-talking heart throb and his two Hollywood pals take on such a risky role.
Here he talks about his admiration for his son, why he is wary of video cameras and how he got up close and personal with the NYPD . . .
Q: What is the story behind Pride and Glory? CF: “A multiple murder has taken place on both sides of the law. Four officers have fallen in a raid that’s gone horribly wrong. There is basically a massacre at the start of the film. There’s an investigation and we find out that a few of the cops are dirty. It tears a family apart – all that kind of thing. By the end there is so much going on for each character, there is so much to lose for everybody and there are absolute consequences for everything that you see in the film. For every action that is taken there is a definite reaction. It is by and large because of the events that take place in the film and the consequences are very painful.”
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your character in Pride and Glory? CF: “I play a New York cop, a police department cop called Jimmy Egan who is very conflicting. In one sense he is a decent father and a good husband and in another sense he is corrupt. About as corrupt as they get, a vicious character really.
Q: Is your character Jimmy a good cop or a bad cop? CF: “The actions and deeds that he commits in the film are indicative of what would be perceived to be a bad man. But behind those actions and everything he does there is a reason.”
Q: Was the iron scene difficult to shoot? CF: “It wasn’t particularly nice, yeah. It was one of those days you’re glad you don’t take your work home with you. It wasn’t nice but the environment was very safe and we got through it. But it is an incredibly violent film and my character Jimmy is an incredibly violent man. He acts without compunction. He is supposed to represent the idea of lawfulness and is quite the opposite.”
Q: Is the film all action for the whole two hours? CF: “There is not a wasted moment in the film. Nothing is superfluous to the story that is trying to be told – even moments that you think don’t mean anything – there is a reason why they are there.
Q: There are a lot of scenes where it is just you and another guy. When you have got a guy up against a fence and you two are practically rubbing noses is that almost as intimate as a sex scene? CF: “Does it become erotic? Does it transcend the world of violence? Does it become about male love? I hope it doesn’t come across that way. No. But I suppose you get fairly intimate when you work that closely with someone. But it is not sexy to do it. You’re in there and you can tell what the other person had for breakfast and you are spitting in each others faces – it gets fairly aggressive. Within the acknowledgement that it’s an environment of work and that you’re actually on exactly the same team even though you are representing two different sides of the same coin. Yeah, it was fairly intense to shoot that. Sure.”
Q: At the start of the film we see you guys playing football with the NYPD cops – were they actually cops that were on the football field? CF: “Yeah, they were the NYPD football team – I trained with them for around 10 days because I had never played American Football before, I have never worn a set of pads or anything like that. I have watched the game for about 15 years and it is my favourite of the American sports but playing it was a different kettle of fish. I could not understand how I could not catch a ball. It would hit my chest and then it would be gone. I would be like’ Where did it go?’ Every time I tried to catch it because I did not know the technique. It was embarrassing. I have a new found respect for the delicacyof the sport. I always thought from an outside perspective – ‘Oh bunch of meat heads’ but there is a lot of chess that goes through as well. But that was all the NYPD. They were a big bunch of scary bastards but they were verynice to me.”
Q: Do you bring a lot of yourself to each character you play? CF: “Yeah, I suppose you do. That’s all you can bring. You can’t bring anyone else. You bring somewhere between experience and imagination.
Q: Your fame seemed to happen fairly rapidly for you. You were just starting to do great things here in Ireland and then you became an international superstar. Did you ever expect it to happen like that? CF: “No I had a head spin on. I never thought I was in to fame but friends have told me that when I was about 14 or 15 I would say ‘I’ll be famous’. I went to theatre school for a year and tried to figure out this acting thing and what it meant and what it was about. It was satiating this natural curiosity I had as a human being I found acting to be a great platform for that. And then I did Ballykissangel and I got one American film. Joel Schumacher took a big gamble on me with Tigerland and it just went off from there. And years of head spinning.”
Q: Were you planning to head out that way – were you planning to go out to America? CF: “Y’know, my agent Josh flew to Europe and he was meeting three young actors. Two guys in London and one in Dublin and he was given carte blanche by his agency to sign one actor and choose one. He chose me and took a chance. So I went over and did three weeks of meetings in Los Angeles, hated it and there was a lot of ‘You’re Irish! Wow! What’s that like?’ And I was kind of freaked.”
Q: Your next Joel Schumacher movie was Phonebooth – was it great to have a role like that where it is on you for so much of the movie, but also a tough role to carry? CF: “Yes. But it reminds me of Sam Jackson. When I said to him ‘What was it like doing Star Wars with all those blue screens?’ and he said ‘Oh, it was great because I got to work with my favourite actor – me.” It was good fun in Phonebooth. It was a ten day shoot – for the whole thing. There was no waiting around. There was no indulgence. Everyone from the top bosses to the caterers and the sparks were just working their arses off.”
Q: Do you enjoy long-shoots? CF: “I have been on long shoots. Six months – and it does get tedious. I think my longest was Alexander – that was fairly long.”
Q: Why do you think Alexander was not a hit? CF: “I really don’t know. It should’ve done. It had everything. A great cast, a great crew, great director, great script, great scenery, all these different great. What happened? For that indefinable, inexplicable reason it just did not work. I looked like a drag queen – I should’ve got my rootsdone. It was heartbreaking it did not work. All joking aside, it’s not a poor me story because again, I got over paid for it and I had the most incredible life experience and shared it with a really cool bunch of people. But for it to be treated the way it was when it came out, I was having panic attacks. I could not leave the house.”
Q: So you read the reviews? CF: “I read every one. I was reading them and I was nearly writing them. I don’t know why I read them. I guess it is the propensity for self-loathing and the pleasure that comes with that. Conventional logic would say the healthiest thing to do would be to avoid them. But I ignored that conventional logic.”