That open-book approach to life initially led to trouble. Farrell was 24 when he starred in Joel Schumacher's "Tigerland," a gritty Vietnam War drama that earned him critical respect. But it also brought instant celebrity and the attention of the tabloid media, who couldn't get enough of the brash young actor's antics, such as the time he strode into a strip club in full view of the paparazzi during the Toronto International Film Festival, almost as if he were daring the press.
"Shock! Horror! A 24-year-old actor likes seeing naked women!" he jokes of the incident. "At the time, it was mad. I was so young and honest to God, it felt like Hollywood had given me the keys to the city. There's an element of fear in Hollywood. People are always worrying they're going to miss the boat on the next cool thing, so they take chances they wouldn't normally take. To be on the inside of that was insane. I was so suspicious of this idea of fame, of having to manner myself in a certain way, of tailoring my behavior. So I did everything I could to show that I didn't give a (expletive) about any of the establishments that were in place. I did that for a while. And then that got really (expletive) tiring! You run out of steam, and you become your own argument. I made some significant changes in my life, and I'm glad I did. I'm having more fun now. It's not as loud! But it really is more fun in a weird way."
Today, Farrell does seem happy and content, even if he sounds a bit cautious when asking your opinion of "Total Recall" ("I haven't seen it yet," he confessed during a promotional stop in Miami in July). He is fit enough to be the current cover boy of Men's Health, and he has already completed several eagerly awaited films, including "Seven Psychopaths," which reunites him with his "In Bruges" director Martin McDonagh, and "Dead Man Down," a crime thriller co-starring "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's" Noomi Rapace.
But the actor doesn't refer to this current phase in his career as a rebirth or second wind. For Farrell, all the ups and downs are part of the same long, exhilarating ride.
"I don't really like the idea that hardship and pain are the only real things, and good, superficial, bright, shiny times are bulls--t," he says. "That idea doesn't suit me. I prefer to respect both -- the light and the dark. I'll have 30 or 40 guests at movie premieres. My uncles and my aunties will fly over from Dublin, spend the day at Universal Studios and get sunburned, and then they'd arrive to the red carpet. I'll see my uncle standing behind me on 'Entertainment Tonight' sometimes! That's one way for me to break through the illusion of it all and make this stuff seem real."
COLIN ON COLIN
We asked Colin Farrell to reminisce about some of his films:
"Alexander" (2004): It was a monumental experience. We all thought we were splitting the atom; we thought we were making something that would stand the test of time and was unabashedly brilliant and powerful and moving and certainly was going to do better critically and commercially than the film did. So it was a massive disappointment. But the first day of principal photography on that set is one of the profound moments of my life. It was insane. I puked in my trailer. I was really scared, but there was something even deeper there.
"The New World" (2005): I adored working with (director Terrence) Malick. He's kind of sublime. He has such a beautiful way of allowing you to experience the telling of a story on film. It's why so many actors would do anything to work with him. There's a grace inherent in everything he does. That's one of the few films I've made that I can watch, and my presence doesn't completely spoil it for me. The images are so beautiful, even I can't ruin them.
"Miami Vice" (2006): The people in Miami were great. I enjoyed watching the storms rolling in every afternoon, and I loved driving my car across the MacArthur Causeway. But to be honest, I lived inside Tobacco Road for that entire shoot. You never saw me coming out of nightclubs in South Beach, because I wasn't there. I couldn't even make it that far.
"In Bruges" (2008): When I read the script, I immediately felt so strongly about it. It was like nothing I had ever read. It was just so unique and crazy and violent, but it also had so much compassion and heart. The level of fanaticism that movie has cultivated is really cool. People who love it really love it.
"Ondine" (2009): It played to empty halls in this country, and I kind of get why, because it felt very small and provincial west of Ireland. There wasn't much razzmatazz to it at all. But as far as the story goes, and the life and breadth of a character within a tale, I love that film.
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