Colin Farrell
Photo by Andrew H. Walker

Colin Farrell: “I don’t think parenthood changes you”

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Short Profile

Name: Colin James Farrell
DOB: 31 May 1976
Place of Birth: Dublin, Ireland
Occupation: Actor

Mr. Farrell, does belief change your personal outlook on life?

Belief is very important. It’s like when you are riding a horse and you want it to go to the left, you look to the left first and then pull the horse’s head. As a human being it is the same thing: wherever you put your attention is probably where you are going to find yourself. With that in mind, the ideas of imagination and stories are very important for a more real and centralized truth.

Do you believe in fairy tales?

I believe in fucking everything, man. Human life is magic – in all its tragedies and all its glory; it’s really magic that we exist here at all. If you think about what it takes to create a life it’s just insane.But we get away from that way too easily.

Because we worry too much?

Yes, because we are consumed with existence, mortgages, jobs, competition, clothes, cars, houses. It is nice to allow the imagination room to breathe again and see life as something that is spectacular and magic. And sometimes we need the imagination to do that, to take us out of our immediate environment. Then we can come back into our environment with that gift that we’ve been bestowed.

Would you agree that people in smaller villages aren't as affected by these worries?

There is a more community-based existence and people share their lives more. They don't have the fortune or misfortune to isolate from each other as much as possible. I am not saying that people don't choose to, but in the city people tend to be more self-centered even though they are more crushed together.

They can be anonymous.

City people tend to be more self-centered and self-driven, where in the smaller villages – and of course these are generalizations – people share stories, experiences, grief, and celebration. The support behind local football teams in certain rural villages around Ireland, for example, is insane; it’s brilliant. They all gather in the pub and celebrate a victory, you know.

Speaking of pubs, you once said that you learned at your first acting job how to drink during work.

Yeah, that was a mad gig. But I was too drunk and hyperactive back in the day.

Do you drink at all anymore?

Nah, I just have no desire to do that anymore. I am very fucking lucky that way, that it’s not something I white-knuckle my way through, that it’s not something that I feel like I am lacking in my life.

Did becoming a parent change your outlook on things?

I actually don't think that parenthood changes you. I don’t think it does in and of itself – I know it doesn’t. Look around the world and you can see that it doesn’t. And I was adamant that it wouldn't change me.

Not many people would sit here and tell me that…

But it doesn't change your life. You can use it as a platform for change, which I eventually did. Three years into being a father I was like, “Why am I so fucking insistent that being a father shouldn’t change my life?” It should change my life. Is my life so fucking good that it shouldn’t be changed? I mean, personally? And then I let it in more and that was the way it was. I was adamant that I was just going to be the cool dad and I wasn’t having a son, I was having a friend – you know, all that kind of stuff. So eventually I let the change in. Yeah, it’s a glorious change, Jesus.

Are there any worries that come with being a father?

The world has always been an incredibly dangerous place, but I live in very safe circumstances. Fear is an incredibly powerful force and I think in order to not let fear become a destructive thing you must acknowledge it and not let it dominate your life. I will just do my best to protect my son.

“ “I identify myself less with my work than I used to. 'Alexander’ nearly killed me!”

No more drinking, raising kids, working all the time. How do you balance your life?

I do have it really good. I have a house in Los Angeles and an apartment that I rent in Dublin even though I only stay there about three times a year – Christmas for two weeks and then I try to bring my son home at least once a year so he can hear the great Irish accent from somebody other than me. That gives my life the balance I need. Where I come from is very important to me.

You still have that image of the bad boy, though. Is that something you don't want to be attached to anymore?

I am not attached to anything with regard to people’s opinions. Which is not to say opinions don’t affect me, but I am definitely not attached to them. I run not from anything nor run towards anything either, do you know what I mean?

Not even when a film gets panned?

It is disappointing, but I identify myself less with my work than I used so it doesn't go in as deep anymore as other things that haven’t worked out in the past. Alexander nearly killed me! I mean, relatively speaking, coming from the very fortunate life that I’ve had, that was a very tough experience for me to go through, emotionally and psychologically. In an ideal world you’ll make films and be parts of stories that people respond to. I don’t make films just for myself. I write poems and stuff and I really don’t write those for anyone; I just write them for myself. But films are made to be viewed by other people and to affect other people, to make them laugh or to make them question themselves or their environment or whatever it may be, to entertain. So, ideally, people will respond positively.

People often say that having kids makes them choose different films.

I am only going to do Pixar films from now on. No, there is no specific kind of criteria of what I want to pursue regarding my work. When you read something and it speaks to you, you know it right away. Of course it always depends a bit on where you are in your life as well or even the kind of mood that you are in when you read it, but something either speaks to you or it doesn't.

What about the scripts with a big paycheck attached to them, maybe you choose those yourself?

I love a big paycheck; it's grand. I have no repulsion to that idea. I love a good action film, I love the spectacle of going to the cinema, so if I can find something big that I think can reach the goals it has, that will open big, then I do it. But only if I like it. In the past years it has just seemed like the more intimate films were the ones worth it.