Looking back, moving forward
It’s been a rocky road to the settled life for Colin Farrell, but the Irish star of Total Recall isn’t pining for his party days. ‘By the end, I was living with shackles that I put on my own wrists,’ he tells DONALD CLARKE
I WON’T HEAR a word against Colin Farrell. Some malcontents may find it annoying that the entire country bows down when Mr Farrell flies into town. Just look at the coverage he received when attending the Dublin premiere of Total Recall last week. Stamps were issued. Planes wrote his name in the skies above O’Connell Street. You generally need to be a female boxer to attract that degree of acclaim.
Quite right too. He’s been a star for 10 years and, throughout that period, he has remained the most accommodating of gentlemen. There have been a fair few racy stories: a drink-and-drugs meltdown; the odd stalker; the inevitable sex tape. But he never attempts to shift responsibility and he always (well, nearly always) proves happy to anatomise the latest crisis.
“There are times when I mope and gripe about not wanting to do this or that,” he says. “But they seem to be getting less and less. I’m running out of road and now I’m just glad to do anything. I don’t exactly look around and think, look how lucky I am, but I do know that a lot of people, through circumstance, undergo a lot of hardship. I do a job I love doing. I get to travel. So, I have to talk to you about my films. That’s so trying and traumatic. Ha ha!”
The path to fame is well known. Raised in Castleknock, member of a comfortable, close family, he spent a spell in the Gaiety School of Acting before catching his first break in the TV series Ballykissangel. In 2000, he edged towards the big time with Joel Schumacher’s Tigerland. Demonstrating a keen eye and good taste, he went on to work for such demigods as Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, Terrence Malick, Peter Weir and Terry Gilliam.
Meanwhile, he managed to scare up the sort of gleeful, tobacco-stained notoriety that used to follow around veteran (excuse the cliche) hell-raisers such as Richard Harris and Richard Burton.
Colin is now cleaner than a surgical scalpel. Well-scrubbed, hair in order, he sits alertly upright in a plush corner of the Four Seasons Hotel. He doesn’t mind the press palaver, but he’s eager to get home to his two boys: James, son of model Kim Bordenave, and Henry, born to actor Alicja Bachleda-Curus.
Would it be naïve to suggest that having children changes a fellow?
“That’s an ideal that’s not realised as often as it should be. You see people all over the world having kids and it hasn’t changed them at all. That’s to the detriment of them and the kids. For the first three years of James’s life I was saying: ‘Oh, I’m going to be his friend. It’s not going to change me.’ We resist change. We’re like schoolyard bullies that way. Then I made changes in my own life. The fear of not being around long enough for him began to worry me.”
Since he’s brought it up (as I said, I won’t hear a word against Colin), let’s ponder that great personal fulcrum in his life. He seemed to hit several brick walls simultaneously in late 2005. Hooked on various exotic chemicals and more mundane stuff that comes in bottles, Farrell checked himself into rehab. At about the same time, he endured wretched reviews for his performance in Oliver Stone’s undisciplined Alexander. Speaking to this writer then, he remarked: “Oh man. They were just so personal!”