Hollywood star Colin Farrell has spoken about his career in film and admitted that he has always felt he’s ‘representing Ireland in some way’.
The Dubliner has appeared in numerous hit films that have filled movie theatres such as Phone Booth, In Bruges, Horrible Bosses and Seven Psychopaths.
Although his work has taken him all around the world, he has never forgotten his Irish roots and has felt a responsibility to represent his country in the correct way.
Farrell gave an open and honest interview as he returned to home shores for the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival.
He sat down and chatted to the festival director Gráinne Humphreys, to look back at some of the highs and lows of his career.
He begins by recalling his breakthrough role in Tigerland, and how proud he was to showcase it at the 2001 Dublin festival and celebrate his success in front of his own people.
Farrell said: “There was a sense of shared excitement, and I always felt that, to be honest with you. I don’t mean to play the nationalistic card, but I always felt that.
“I always felt when I went away I was representing Ireland in some way. I mean, I wasn’t wearing the jersey and stuff and it wasn’t a competition, but I always felt people were really decent with me when I got home. Like, they really were.”
“I’ve said this before: I expected a couple of slaps, or a couple of digs at some stage in a pub – some night someone would just want to get one over on me! But everyone was always very decent and I always felt that there was a little bit of pride or something.
“It was celebratory. Celebratory that a kid… It could have been anyone; it just happened to be me for a number of reasons, many of which I know for a fact are outside of my control. But it happened to be a Dublin kid came back from having a bit of success in America and it was a big celebration, and it felt really good to be at the centre of that. It really was lovely. It was a lovely, lovely welcome.”
The warm welcome Farrell received on his homecoming back in 2001 meant a great deal to him.
There are many youngsters who grow up dreaming of going off to America to succeed in showbusiness, and the fact that Farrell said he was generally well-received by the Irish public is a sign of national pride in his achievements.
However, despite his success, Farrell admitted it wasn’t always smooth sailing in his career. He had to deal with his new surroundings and was keen not to appear as a diva who complains about things even when they are on a successful path.
The star explained: “I didn’t know where I was living at that stage. I was spending a lot of time away from home. I was missing a lot of home. I was more homesick, I think, more than I realised, or I wanted to ‘fess up’ to because I was living this dream and I was having all these adventures. So, I was keenly aware that I had to be grateful for that.
“But any time I got home I experienced such sustenance. That’s what basically the Dublin International Film Festival offered me back then: a great kind of anchor to come home and be able to meld what my life was becoming, which was a life working in film, and also a life that had been lived for 20 years in a person’s place of birth.
“So, there was the profundity of being from the place, and there was the newness and the exoticism of bringing in this idea of a journey through film, or the beginning of a journey in film. I didn’t know if I was ever going to do another film again, so I was definitely going to enjoy it that first time out!”
Farrell then moved forward in time to the point of the release of In Bruges, in which he starred opposite fellow Irish actor Brendan Gleeson.
Again, they celebrated the movie’s release at the Dublin Film Festival, this time in 2008. Farrell explained that by this point he had made alterations to his own behaviour and was able to appreciate the night itself.
He said: “That was an amazing night. You’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a distinct form of national pride any time you get to do anything in the name of our island. To be able to have that experience with them lads, and then bring it home and Clémence (Clémence Poésy – fellow star of In Bruges) to come over – that was a glorious time.
“My life was very different by the time In Bruges came out – by the time we shot In Bruges. It was one of the first films I did – I think it was the second or third film I did – sober, and it was the first film festival I had attended sober.”
“Let me tell you, after 15 or 20 years of carousing the way I caroused, drinking the way I drank, the sober world is a pretty scary world, you know? It can be – and genuinely.
“So, to come home and to do it sober and not have the buffer and not have the support of a few drinks just to calm the nerves – it was a really amazing thing. I remember being more nervous; I remember being more uncomfortable initially at that film festival than any others because I didn’t have any booze in me, basically, obviously.
“But, as so often happens, the flipside of that was having gotten through the initial discomfort – and the initial self-judgements or whatever tensions were created inside me – having gotten through those initially, it was easily the most rewarding film festival that I had in Dublin. Easily. Easily the most rewarding experience and the most memorable, and the one I can remember most.”
Farrell’s open interview offers a real insight into the mentality of the Irish public.
The actor admits he has been incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunities he has, but he has worked hard and made the most of his chances.
It was also warming to see him say that the Irish people had always showed him great warmth and pride at his achievements – proud to see one of their own conquer the world of Hollywood.