Colin Farrell was a sensation when he launched his Hollywood career in the early noughties. He was practically beatified here in Ireland, as his dramatic talents were proven again and again in movies such as Tigerland, Minority Report, Phone Booth and Intermission. However, then the critical and media halo dropped somewhat, as his personal life started generating endless inches, and his actorly output went a little bit downhill.
Flops such as Alexander and Miami Vice do not an Oscar nomination beget. It seemed for a while as if the Castleknock native was becoming more famous for his ‘romantic’ exploits. There was a sex tape, flings with various LA celebrities, a brilliant news piece about him making a pass at Dame Eileen Atkins. The boy was entertaining, if a little bit lost.
However, there was something of a low-key turnabout in 2008 when he took a role in the foul-mouthed dark comedy In Bruges, and his career has been a little bit more fun, and a better fit since. In amidst the pay cheques – Horrible Bosses and Total Recall – there have been crowd favourites such as Seven Psychopaths and Saving Mr. Banks. This career trajectory is one that suits Farrell, if interviews he’s been conducting for True Detective season two, he’s been opening up about that initial onslaught of fame.
“Well, I was about as close to an overnight success in regards to the commercial stuff that came early on … it all happened really, really fast,” he said on The Tavis Smiley Show earlier this week. “So I can’t believe in the lie that’s being presented to me anymore: that I’m a movie star and that everything is great. I have this No. 1 movie, that one. Everyone is telling me now that that’s gone. So it was kind of like, ugh… all of it’s a delusion. Telling me it’s gone is a delusion. Ever believing that it was there in the first place is a delusion.”
It’s rather refreshing to hear an actor speak with such honesty about the cyclical nature of Hollywood. Trust an Irishman not to fall for comeback rhetoric. And about the trappings of fame? “When I used to go, ‘I don’t care about any of it,’ I really cared then. I just didn’t know how to acknowledge it or express my caring,” Farrell said. “I didn’t understand it. Now, I still care, but I care less, really. And it’s freed me up. That’s the irony, it’s freed me up.”