August 1, 2004
A big movie star doesn’t walk into a Beverly Hills hotel suite carrying a plate of spaghetti.
But Colin Farrell does.
A big movie star doesn’t interrupt a string of careermaking roles in big-budget movies, including "S.W.A.T.," "Minority Report" and the upcoming Oliver Stone epic "Alexander" with one as a sexually ambiguous character in a low-budget drama called "A Home at the End of the World."
But Colin Farrell does.
In fact, the 28-year-old Irish actor doesn’t follow a lot of the rules of Hollywood stardom. And that is the point.
"I have never pursued movie stardom, even though it seems as if I have," the fast-talking Farrell says as he eats.
He cleans the plate in less than a minute, then takes a long swig of dark Irish beer. Satiated, he places the empty plate on a dresser and fires up a Camel Light. He is wearing a wool cap that he removes and puts back on several times during the interview — almost as if using the cap to emphasize a point.
"I don’t care about being a movie star," he says. "I like to work. If it turns out that by working at what I love, I become a movie star, then so be it. I’m not going to fight it."
But he’s certainly going to enjoy every moment of it.
Farrell has been in the gossip pages ever since he started acting in American movies about five years ago.
He has been linked to many actresses. He recently had a son with a woman he dated. His drinking and partying have become legendary.
Farrell doesn’t bother to deny any of it.
"I’m single, I’m rich and I’m a movie star," he says. "If I can’t have fun at this, what’s the point?
"But I think the media writes so much about me because they’re bored and have nothing better to do. I’m not quite as wild as they say I am. I work hard and, at the end of the day, I socialize and have a good time. . . . If I start drinking so much that when I report to the set in the morning, I can’t do my work, then come see me."
‘TIGERLAND’ AND BEYOND
The son of a professional Irish football (soccer) player, Farrell was the youngest of four children. He followed his older brother into acting school and found work in small films and the theater in his native Dublin and London. Kevin Spacey saw him in a play and suggested him to director Joel Schumacher, who was casting "Tigerland," a film about recruits sent to participate in war games to prepare them for Vietnam.
Farrell next played Jesse James in "American Outlaws," followed by roles as a soldier in "Hart’s War," the terrorized executive in "Phone Booth," the spy-in-training in "The Recruit," the bald villain in "Daredevil," the heroic cop in "S.W.A.T." and Tom Cruise’s nemesis in Steven Spielberg’s "Minority Report."
"I have only been in the U.S. for five years, but I have had an inordinate amount of good fortune — almost to the point of being sickening," he says.
"But I like the choices I’ve made. I chose each role for a good reason. If you pick work for the right reasons, then you’re doing something right.
"I haven’t chosen any work for the money, although I made a ridiculous amount of money for ‘S.W.A.T.’ But it wasn’t for the money; I wanted to do something light and Samuel L. Jackson was in it. That was reason enough for me."
He plays the title role in Stone’s holiday season film "Alexander." So, why appear in "A Home at the End of the World," which opens Friday?
This small film was written by Michael Cunningham, who wrote "The Hours," and directed by Michael Mayer. Hardly the kind of film one would expect from a rising Hollywood superstar.
"I read the script and it was so powerful, I told my agent that I had to be in it," Farrell says. "I didn’t care whether it was good for my career. It was wonderful work."
The film follows the lives of two childhood friends who, with a woman (Robin Wright Penn), form an unusual family. Farrell’s character, Bobby, is beset by tragedies that turn him into a man/child who lives by his emotions. He may or may not be gay, and Farrell’s well-publicized nude scene has been cut from the film.
Farrell desperately wanted the role, but the director had never heard of him.
CHASING HIS DESTINY
"I got this call that Colin Farrell read the script and would love to get an offer to play Bobby," Mayer recalls. "I said, ‘Oh, that’s great. Who’s Colin Farrell?’ "
"At the time, all his big work was still in the can. He was one of those movie stars who everybody was talking about but hadn’t happened yet."
Actors at Farrell’s level don’t usually have to audition for roles, but he accepted the challenge. He sat with the director one afternoon and read lines from the script. He got the part.
"In person, I saw that he possessed the qualities of Bobby," the director says. "He showed me an amazing sensitivity and a gentle, quiet, trusting nature. He totally captured Bobby’s passivity, even though Colin in real life is just the opposite. He is assertive and driven, yet he is able to bottle that when he acts.
"He’s got the talent, but he can’t hide the movie star qualities, either. When his face is on the screen, you can’t take your eyes off him. And that is the definition of a movie star."
Farrell says, "I’m not chasing movie stardom," when told of Mayer’s comments.
"I’m only chasing my own destiny. There is no master plan. . . . But I do feel a greater sense of purpose since the birth of my son. It’s the most incredible thing in the world. For the first time in my life, it makes me want to stick around."