You can assume one thing about an actor who chats unapologetically about his tangles with prostitutes, the celebrity images he masturbates to, drugs he’s sampled, why he’s happy about his foreskin and his best guess as to his co-star’s sexual orientation: He’s not an American. Colin Farrell is a straightforward Irish guy’s guy – he swears a lot, chainsmokes and is frighteningly generous when answering questions about his personal life and career. His performance as a hell-raising Vietnam recruit in Tigerland won comparisons to such badasses as Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson. Now he’s on-screen with Al Pacino in the CIA thriller The Recruit and plays the villain in Daredevil, a comicbook adaptation that pits him against Ben Affleck. He’ll also be in Phone Booth, a controversial (and much-delayed) movie about a sniper.
Farrell, 26, is still the new kid in Hollywood, but he’s already being paid a reported 8 million to star opposite Samuel L. Jackson in a red-blooded action flick based on the Seventies TV series SWAT.
Farrell worried his mother sick with his carousing, bombed out of school at 17, then lit out to Australia, wild and disorderly, for a year. He returned to Ireland for a stint in drama school but dropped out in 1997 when he won his first movie role in the made-Ireland drama Drinking Crude. By the following year, he was a homegrown TV sitcom hero on the hit Ballykissangel, which led to a small role in The War Zone, actor Tim Roth’s 1999 directorial debut. In London, Kevin Spacey was so impressed with Farrell in a stage role as an autistic teen that he recommended him to the director of the 2000 film Ordinary Decent Criminal. That gig landed him an American agent and, soon after, the lead in Joel Schumacher’s Tigerland and the WWII prison camp movie Hart’s War, in which he starred as a lieutenant alongside Bruce Willis. Many reviewers said he stole the show from Tom Cruise in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report last summer.
We sent Stephen Rebello to meet Farrell for drinks at his hotel in Santa Monica to find out how he’s adjusting to being the “next big thing.”
Playboy: Room service just brought you six cold bottles of beer. We’re sitting on the terrace of your hotel room because it’s a nonsmoking floor and you want a cigarette. This isn’t typical health-conscious Los Angeles behavior.
Farrell: I have two fucking beers at lunchtime in Los Angeles and I’ve got an edge all of a sudden. Two beers at lunch and, suddenly, you’re a “drinker.” I understand the obsession in Hollywood. It’s a hard fucking town. So much importance is placed on the physical, the image, how you’re doing in life. Salads are huge here. Sushi is huge. It’s not how much love you have in your life, it’s how much money you get paid. Bottled water is huge. For women, it’s the French manicured nails and the Brazilian bikini wax, the one that gives you the landing-strip pussy. It’s not for me.
Playboy: Do you feel out of place here?
Farrell: I was with my brother at the Chateau Marmont the other night; it’s about two in the morning and we’re having a couple of margaritas. We’re fucking steaming drunk from drinking all day, and three guys, 30 to 40 years old, sit down at the table beside us. When the gorgeous little Filipino barman comes over and says to them, “Would you guys like anything?” one of them says, “You know what? I think I’ll have a large Pellegrino, please.” I swear to fuck, I’m not one for going, “Come on, man, drink more – do shots!” but then the other guy with him went, “I’ll have one of those as well, actually,” and the third guy says, “You know what? That sounds really good. Make it three Pellegrinos – large.” At two in the morning, how the fuck can a bottle of water sound really good? I understand it’s a health-conscious city, but life’s too short.
Playboy: Does your being a chain-smoker alienate you, too?
Farrell: My brother and I were having a cigarette outside a hotel when a woman got out of a car with two little boys, six or seven years old. One of the little fellows looked up at my brother and me smoking and said to his mother, “What’s the fire those guys have in their hands?” I shit you not. His mother said, “Oh, nothing. That’s bad, bad.” She was right. It is bad. But he had never seen a fucking cigarette at six or seven. Isn’t that amazing?
Playboy: Your fingers are pretty scraped up. Are you now or have you ever been a brawler?
Farrell: Last night I was opening a bottle of fucking beer but couldn’t get the top off and my fingers slipped. In my younger years in school, I scrapped, yeah. I remember my mother getting a report when I was very young, which she still has: “Colin is getting in too many fights.”
Playboy: What were you fighting about? Bullies? Girl troubles?
Farrell: Girl trouble, for me, is when you fall in love – that’s fucking girl trouble. If you have a bad lay, that’s not girl trouble. A girl not returning your phone calls or spreading rumors about you, that’s not girl trouble, just a pain in the ass. But to fall in love – that’s girl trouble.
Playboy: When did you first get into that kind of trouble?
Farrell: I was 16 when I fell in love with a girl named Amelia, who came from this big Portuguese family we were friendly with in Castleknock. Her two brothers, Tony and Chico, are still my best friends, and Amelia married another of my best mates. Am I painting a fucking picture of Dublin as an incestuous fucking place? Because it is. She was the real deal for me. But this one Halloween, I’d gotten into a bit of a skirmish at school and the next day I heard that 20 blokes were looking for me. I was already not getting on great in school, and boarding school had been suggested, so I thought, Fuck it, I’ll go to boarding school for a while and get out of Dodge.
Playboy: Did that put a damper on you and Amelia?
Farrell: I was in love with her and besotted by her. I’m so soft about these things. I found it very hard because I only saw her once a week, on Sunday. I wanted to spend every second with her, but I was in boarding school with a bunch of fucking dudes, playing table tennis and bartering for fucking bottles of Coke.
Playboy: Was she the first sexual experience you had?
Farrell: No, my first was with an Australian woman. I had this friend in school who was a big e-head. I used to be a fucking e-head. I used to smoke fucking puppies like they were fucking candy for two or three years in the Dublin club scene and got completely into it. You’d be fucking doing 15 of these a weekend, and you might pop them on Wednesday as well. It was your scene. It was really a way of life, not a weekend-warrior thing. The mates you were hanging out with were all fucking e-heads.
Playboy: So you’re saying ecstasy played a part in your losing your virginity?
Farrell: I had a really good mate, Eliot, who was a huge fucking drinker, popping back Guinnesses to beat the band. He knew I was a fucking e-head, and he’d always say, “You’re with all them fucking wankers doing pills, you fucking tosser. Who the fuck do you think you are? Why don’t you have a fucking drink?” I said, “We still drink. I tell you what. Some night I’ll go out with you and I’ll fucking do what you do and someday you’ll go out and do what I do.” So one night we went to the club I’d always gone to, a gay club in Dublin called Shaft. After one or two A.M., when the other places closed down, Shaft became gay, straight, whatever. We went there and danced into the wee hours.
Playboy: With each other?
Farrell: It was close on the floor, but there was no gyrating – or geez, he would have started throwing fists. There would have been killings. It was about four A.M. and Eliot was nearly comatose, so I put him in a taxi and sent him home because I’d met this Australian woman who was 36 and had basically said to me, “Do you want to come back to my house and fuck?” We went to her place and were lying on her bed kissing and she opened a bottle of champagne – which I fucking hate. But I took a sip, and as I did, she reached under the bed and pulled out a wicker basket with about 400 condoms in it – different flavors, colors, ribbed. She said, “Pick one,” and I said to myself, “I am in fucking trouble here.”
Playboy: And were you?
Farrell: For about four hours straight. I thought I’d found the holy fucking grail.
Playboy: Which condom did you choose?
Farrell: Oh, God, I didn’t choose anything, fucking idiot that I was.
Playboy: Was that the first time that you thought you might have a way with the ladies?
Farrell: I still haven’t figured that out. I know I’m a fairly fucking affable bloke and all, but that doesn’t always equal charm or a ticket into a woman’s pants. Sometimes you just end up being “the nice guy” or “cute.” I remember being 14 in summer school and fancying the fuck out of this beautiful blonde bird named Lisa. I looked like I was 12 years old with a baby face. I remember asking one of her mates to put in a good word for me and she came back with, “She thinks you’re really cute, but you’re just not her type.” Fucking bastards. I have never from that day forth felt I had any great understanding of how to charm women or anything like that. But I’ve done OK.
Playboy: Would you say that you were precocious?
Farrell: I didn’t start too early, though I caught up pretty quick. I see no fucking harm at all in people enjoying each other’s bodies in a two or three-hour or 20- minute period. Two people in a bathroom in a nightclub when they both know what they’re doing and are both fucking enjoying it – if it’s on those terms, even the sleaziness of doing it in a bathroom or someone’s hotel room can be one of the funniest things. I’ve always been a firm believer that casual sex is a fucking good thing. There is far too much fun to be derived from it for it to be anything but good. Just put a fucking hat on.
Playboy: Which you’ve done ever since the Australian woman who had the 400 condoms?
Farrell: One gets drunk and one is a fucking dickhead from time to time. We all forget. But I try, all the time.
Playboy: If you were to start your own line of condoms, what would you name it?
Farrell: Don’t Forget.
Playboy: Is your success rate with women better since you’ve become well known?
Farrell: It’s easier for me to get laid in Los Angeles, for sure. When I first came here three years ago, I put myself up at the Holiday Inn in Santa Monica and used to go on my own each night to the Third Street Promenade. Some nights I’d come home on my own, some nights I would come home with a girl, some nights with a room full of fucking strangers and we’d get pissed and stoned and have a laugh. Those were great times, particularly because anyone who was nice to me or gave me the time of day was doing it because they wanted to. They were either bored or lonely like I was. They laughed at my jokes because they thought I was actually funny. Now the lines are crossed. Are people treating you the way they are because of your name or position, whatever that may be? I’m a good judge of character. I can look into someone’s eyes – I hope I’m not being too naive – and know if they’re a good or bad fucking egg.
Playboy: Have your pickup lines changed much since those Holiday Inn days?
Farrell: I wish I had something like, “Shall I phone you or just nudge you for breakfast in the morning?” That kind of shit. I’m not very good at chatting up or making my way over to someone and going, “Hey.” If I’m introduced to someone and the conversation progresses, fine. Next thing, an hour later, I could be saying, “Do you want to go have fucking dinner or drinks or whatever?” I’m a fucking nerd when it comes to that shit, man, like fucking approaching women and stuff. I leave that to my mates.
Playboy: What makes you most aware of the differences between Irish girls and American girls?
Farrell: Fucking Brazilian bikini wax, for a start. I ate a lot of pussy at home, but I never saw a vagina until I came here; they were well covered at home. Girls are not as hugely into grooming at home as they are here, which is not a fucking problem at all – just different flavors of the same lollipop. In Ireland, there’s not so much importance placed on the physical appearance referencing what someone is like as a human being. In Ireland, the birds are all clean – it’s just that a lot of them have big, hairy pussies. In Ireland, we think that to have the prettiest toes in the world and the most beautifully groomed pussy does not an interesting, generous, intelligent person make.
Playboy: Any other major differences?
Farrell: Irish women are very strong compared with American women. A lot of them have tongues like serpents. Irish girls are great fun. They drink all night and fucking get pissed out of their minds. And if they want to have a row with you, they do. There is a good bit of casual sex and the girls are seldom the ones being abused or misused. They’re just getting off you what you want to get off them. So I love the fucking society there. A one-night stand did never a bad person make.
Playboy: Do you find American women fascinated by an uncircumcised penis?
Farrell: They are kind of fucking fascinated with a foreskin, aren’t they? In Ireland, at birth we don’t get the top of our fucking knobs chopped off. I fucking completely disagree with that. People say, “It’s much cleaner to have no foreskin.” What, have you never heard of a fucking shower? Of Q-Tips? Whatever way you want to do it, just clean the fucking thing. I was at a party with about 20 people, one of them an agent from CAA, when somehow the subject of foreskins came up. She said, “I just don’t understand a foreskin. I’ve never seen one.” So I whipped out my dick and said, “Here, that’s all it is. A bit of skin.” I did a little Puppetry of the Penis thing and showed her what it was about. You would have thought she was at a circus the way she was looking at me.
Playboy: Why do actors and prostitutes seem to make good bedfellows?
Farrell: It’s really as fucking simple as sometimes I don’t want to go to a bar and get to know someone because I know all I’m looking for is the simple act of sexual intimacy. It’s like ordering a fucking pizza. Someone comes around, you spend an hour, you have a smoke with them afterward. It’s a harmless interaction. I have never been with a prostitute that I haven’t been completely polite to and just treated like a fucking human being. I’m not a great man for degradation.
Playboy: No leather, whips, clamps, chains and dungeons?
Farrell: Not yet, but I’m young. I’ve got time. I’ve just got to get that particular phone number.
Playboy: You’re not wary of a hooker going straight to the tabloids about you?
Farrell: There is safety in the idea of getting a high-class hooker who’s going to keep her fucking mouth shut. You do whatever you want to do behind closed doors, and they don’t become involved or embroiled in your personal life. I’m very fucking flippant with all that shit. I could really give a fuck what people say about me. If there were an article about me in the newspaper saying “Irish actor found with prostitute in LA hotel,” my mother wouldn’t say, “I can’t believe you did that.” She would say, “Did you pay by check or fucking cash? Is there a paper record?” She knows I’m not a bad fucking guy.
Playboy: In 2001 you and actress Amelia Warner were married for approximately four months. How did that affect you?
Farrell: It was tough. Being in love and then finding yourself not in love as you once were, for me, was a fucking jagged little pill. I couldn’t understand it. I couldn’t understand how I felt different. I’m not going to talk about her, though. Just respect that. Being in love is tough and it’s gorgeous and I’d do it all over again.
Playboy: How did Hollywood impress you when you were growing up?
Farrell: I was always influenced by it – Steve McQueen, Brando, Clift. Ernest Borgnine I’ve seen in I don’t know how many fucking movies. I think I was eight or nine when I had a fucking mad thing for Marilyn Monroe. When I saw her movies, I’d just never seen anything like her. I fell madly in love with her and she was actually the first woman I ever fell in love with. I used to leave Smarties, the Irish equivalent of M&M’s, under my pillow with a little note saying, “I know you’re dead, but these are very fucking tasty and you should come and have a few. I won’t tell anyone.” I’d get pissed off every night when I’d go up to bed and the fucking Smarties would still be there. I couldn’t figure out why Marilyn didn’t just want to take one of my fucking Smarties.
Playboy: Why Marilyn in particular?
Farrell: Even as a kid, you could look at her on-screen, look into her eyes, her face and see how sweet, insecure, gentle, weak and maybe afraid she was of the whole thing while embracing it with big open arms. Mix that up with the boldness, the dirtiness of her character, the hips, the walk on her, that she was the dirtiest fucking ride and had the fragility of a bird with a fucking clipped wing – I mean, that would break a man’s heart every time.
Playboy: Was she a sexual fantasy for you?
Farrell: Did I ever wank to her? Yeah, I would have, but I would usually just fucking whack off to calendar and interviews girls. Marilyn was more a kind of a dream, an idea I would have while lying on my back thinking fucking romantic thoughts. But for wanking material, you’d always go to trashy mags. I used to whack off to Naomi Campbell. I went though a year of where I couldn’t get her out of my mind. I’d think of her and just be touching myself.
Playboy: Have you met her since?
Farrell: I have, yeah, but I haven’t told her. There was Linda Fiorentino, too. I used to fucking whack off to her, especially in The Last Seduction. When I met her, I told her.
Playboy: How did that go?
Farrell: She quite liked the idea. I didn’t get a slap in the face, so I think she took it as all right.
Playboy: Have you ever called a phone sex line?
Farrell: Christ Jesus, yeah man, and they’re terrible fucking things. When I was about 16 or 17, I remember calling them from the downstairs living room of my parents’ house, trying to whack off. When it didn’t work, I had to hang up, go upstairs, grab a fucking porno mag and finish it off with that. You’d want to be in some kind of funky place in your head for a sex line to get you off, knowing you’re probably talking to some bird with a cigarette dangling out of her mouth, filing her nails and looking nothing like she’s saying she looks. I never really got off on the fucking thing.
Playboy: What about porn movies?
Farrell: Yeah, I love porn movies. I always have. They’re great, great fun. I’ve been buying porn movies since I was 14 and found a shop in London and then went to Soho for the first time. I was like, “Oh, my God – sex everywhere. This is great.” I thought I was in heaven.
Playboy: Any favorite titles, either past or present?
Farrell: No, they’re in constant rotation.
Playboy: You grew up in a fairly cushy Dublin suburb called Castleknock. What sort of trouble did you get into there?
Farrell: Just the usual little bits and pieces that kids get involved in – you know, dabbling in a couple of substances I shouldn’t have been doing or getting caught smoking joints, stealing a couple of cans of Coke and 10 packs of cigarettes from a shop. I got arrested for drunk driving and spent a night in the clanger. The typical cliché growing-up things.
Playboy: When did you start dabbling in illegal substances?
Farrell: I think I was 14. The first time was at a friend’s house and we had made a concoction of fucking booze – Cointreau, gin, vodka – put it in a tankard and got sick as fucking dogs. Then, my friend’s brother came home with this lump of fucking brown stuff. We knew it was hash and, at 14, oh the fear it gave you that you were, for all intents and purposes, smoking heroin. Anyway, he put the hash in a Bic pen, burned it, and we sucked it and were out of our fucking minds. But I probably didn’t start buying hash until I was about 15 or so.
Playboy: Where did you get your money back then?
Farrell: I worked in bits and pieces. I was the youngest of four kids and my mother was always fucking great. She let me get away with murder. I come from real working-class stock. My mom’s dad was a chauffeur – and I’m not talking about a fucking stretch limo, either, but a nice Bentley or a Jaguar. My mom’s mom made all the kids’ school uniforms in the parlor of the house. Eventually, my father did very well for himself with various jobs, although he didn’t start out like that. We’re a very simple family. We work hard and we play hard. We like to drink and have a good time. I don’t come from stock that sits around breaking things down and analyzing life that much.
Playboy: Your father, Eamonn, and your Uncle Tommy were well-known football players for the Shamrock Rovers in the Sixties. Did you have to live up to that or live it down?
Farrell: Geez, I wish I had a fucking penny for every time I said to someone in a bar, “My dad’s Eamonn Farrell and he used to play for the Shamrock Rovers,” and they didn’t know what the fuck I was talking about. It wasn’t like he was a major superstar, but within the right circles, at certain pubs and certain areas of Dublin, you’d go in and the old guys would have seen him play football live in a crowd of 40,000. I have a big scrapbook of newspaper clippings and his jersey with three shamrocks on the back, in mothballs.
Playboy: How has your mother, Rita, shaped your life?
Farrell: With strong fucking hands. She is a firm believer in whatever fucking makes you happy. She instilled in us all the idea that we could be whatever we wanted to be if we did it for the right reason, out of love or complete hunger for that thing. She’d say she wanted me to be a lawyer, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to live with yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a big fucking car and you’re getting invited to all the fucking charity balls in the world if you’re not happy.
Playboy: You had a hard time in school and got booted out at 17. What was the big offense?
Farrell: I wasn’t going to many classes, I was taking three-hour lunches and getting caught with my friend Eliot and all the lads in the pool hall having a couple of pints, then going back to class. I’m sure people could smell the beer off our breath. The last school I was in was particularly strict, really a bunch of fascists. They had security cameras in the fucking study hall and we’d wire ourselves with our stereos, put our hands over our ears and go to sleep. A study supervisor grabbed me one day and I threw him up against the wall, saying, “If you ever touch me again, I’ll rip your fucking head off.” I’ll never forget packing my bags and walking out of the school feeling like a fucking rock star. I’d been fucking looking forward to getting kicked out of school for a long time.
Playboy: Did you ever worry you’d never find your way?
Farrell: I was never really worried about it, though my mother worried about it for years. I mean, I never really knew I’d fucking be sitting up here on the balcony of a fine hotel, having a drink with you and knowing in the morning I’m going back to shooting a movie with Samuel L. Jackson. But I knew I would be all right.
Playboy: What happened when you told your father you wanted to be an actor?
Farrell: He laughed hard and he laughed long, and he said, “What do you want to be, a fucking play actor?” Then the first paycheck came in, and he slapped me on the back and said, “That was a great idea, son.” My mother was, from day one, “Well, if that’s what you want to do, try it.” I had been depressed, just up and down and all over the place. My mother was a nervous wreck. Apart from acting being a big thing for me, it was kind of a relief for her because I’d found something that I actually liked, that I could throw my energy into.
Playboy: Success found you pretty quickly.
Farrell: I had four or five great years over there, you know? I was lucky enough to work in Dublin with great actors and on some TV shows. It was like a day job. I’d go to work at eight A.M., shoot the show Ballykissangel, we’d wrap at five or six, I would come home at the same time the lads had finished installing kitchens and working in the clothes shop and we’d all go to the pub. It wasn’t like a big “Wow, you’re an actor, man” type affair.
Playboy: Any problems for you appearing naked on camera in Tigerland?
Farrell: There were just two girls, two boys, three crew members and Joel. We were all just sitting around naked as fuck, having a laugh. It was not a very sexy environment, man. They say the camera puts on 10 pounds. Not in the fucking nether region. I had a dick like a cashew nut, man. If I could walk around naked all the time, though, I would. The first thing I do when I come home is rip off all the clothes and just plop myself into bed. Not a fucking problem, man.
Playboy: Tom Cruise was your co-star in Minority Report. What was he like?
Farrell: Extreme positivity. Tom was fucking great on the set to all the actors, the crew. You know all that bullshit about extras not being allowed to look at him? That’s a load of fucking wank. He was generous. Obviously ambitious and very strong and very, very competitive. But really, a very generous fellow.
Playboy: Did you two pal around?
Farrell: I wouldn’t have seen that in a million years. I really had a good time with him, but I don’t know him. I mean, he’s Tom Cruise. He’s got so much going on in his life. I never got to have a drink with him, but why the fuck would he?
Playboy: How many of your friends in Ireland asked you if he was gay?
Farrell: Quite a few of them. It was one of the first things that they asked.
Playboy: What’d you tell them?
Farrell: I said, “I don’t think so,” and I stand by that. Who knows what goes on behind fucking closed doors? But if I were to bet my life on whether he was gay or not, I wouldn’t think twice. I would go, “I’ll bet my life he’s not,” and I firmly believe he’s not. Look, I’ve met fucking guys who are straighter than me and tougher than me who suck cock. There’s a guy in Dublin who is so effeminate and extremely camp it’s hilarious, yet he’s a very happy, heterosexual married man with two kids. There’s no rhyme or reason to it.
Playboy: You made Hart’s War with Bruce Willis in Prague. Is it true Willis seldom knew his lines?
Farrell: He learns them – he just fucks them up a lot. But that’s funny, and you slag him about it. He’s just like me. Prague is a mad, mad city. Man, there’s fucking darkness to be found in that place. I couldn’t wait to get out and I will never go back.
Playboy: You’ve worked and continue to work with some very big names. If you were having a really bad night, is there anyone you would call?
Farrell: Pacino. I wouldn’t think twice about picking up the phone. I shot The Recruit with him in Toronto and sometimes he would have to stay over at the Four Seasons. We’d race out to the fucking bar and have dinner and talk about the scenes, or we’d just shoot the shit. He was fucking great with me – completely generous, funny and quirky. He’s just a fucking genuine dude, and I had all the time in the world for him. He used to call me “Kid,” like, “Hey, how you doing, kid?” and I nearly got a fucking boner every time he said it, you know? Moments like sitting at the Four Seasons with Pacino improvising because the scene we’re doing the next day isn’t as fleshed out as it should be – that’s when I think, How the fuck did I ever get here? Didn’t finish school. Was told I’d be fucking nothing. Told in drama school I mumble too much and wouldn’t work, and here I’m sitting with Michael Corleone, Scarface. God, that’s amazing. I am a lucky little cock.
Playboy: In another one of your new movies, Daredevil, you play the villain Bullseye, a man with deadly aim, to Ben Affleck’s blind, acrobatic superhero. How did that go?
Farrell: That was just a case of “Check your subtlety at the door.” It’s very large, man. I might be ridiculously over-the-top in this one. How could I do character research to play Bullseye? Walk down Third Street in Santa Monica trying to kill people with fucking safety pins? You just have to go for it. Be large and bask in the fact that you’re allowed to do it, for once.
Playboy: Any tales of superhero/supervillain bonding between you and Ben Affleck?
Farrell: I only saw him on the set and he’s a really lovely fucking dude. I did not get to know him very well at all, but I thought he was dead-on. I did one big fight scene with him and that was good fun. He’s a big fucker, as well – six-foot four or something.
Playboy: Have you ever felt electricity with a female co-star?
Farrell: Bridget Moynahan is an amazing fucking woman. I had a great time working with her on The Recruit – and I’m not even talking about chemistry, because nothing happened between us and she’s been with a dude for four years, happily. She’s beautiful, strong as an ox, knows who she is and she’s bold as brass – brazen, yet she’s also as fucking soft and sweet as they come. Working with actresses doesn’t get much better than the experience I had working with Bridget Moynahan.
Playboy: Which actresses are on your “must work with” list?
Farrell: I love Angelina Jolie’s work. I think she has an amazing ability to get under the skin of characters and do her thing. I would love to work with her and, obviously, with Halle Berry, whom I’ve had a crush on since I was about 12. She seems lovely, a sweet girl.
Playboy: Does she know how you feel about her?
Farrell: I met Halle when I was up in Toronto on the set of X-Men, but I had four cold sores on my lip and felt like a two-year-old. I kept my hand over my mouth, saying, “It was really nice to meet you. Really nice to meet you.” Oh, it was terrible. I’m not afraid of telling her. Maybe she reads Playboy. I’m sure her husband does.
Playboy: Clearly you enjoy a good drink. Can you work with a buzz on?
Farrell: I’ve never had a buzz on and worked. I’ve dealt with hangovers during work. Bad ones. And I’ve worked with them. It gives you a little something else to fight against, a little something to play off of. I did a community play once in a park in Sydney, Australia for kids, not a professional theater, and I was stoned out of my head from reefer. I’ll never fucking do it again. I was just freaked. I could hear every word coming out of my mouth. I couldn’t spit out the words fast enough.
Playboy: Does coke scare you?
Farrell: I wouldn’t touch that fucking shit. Cocaine would be the road to ruin for me.
Playboy: Because you’d like it too much?
Farrell: Yeah, I’d get addicted. A great friend of mine in Dublin is a driver on films and all he said to me was, “When you get to Hollywood, if I ever hear you’re on that white powder, I’ll fucking rip your head off.” He’s dead right, because he knows I’m as bold as brass.
Playboy: And what about heroin?
Farrell: Heroin’s fine in moderation.
Playboy: Is there anything else that scares you?
Farrell: Commercial fucking airplanes. I hate flying. I get sweaty palms, I hear every fucking noise. I usually get out of my head and just go unconscious or start tripping. My sister hates flying with me because I end up doing too much Dramamine or sleeping pills that I mix with booze so I don’t know anything that’s going on. It’s a big fucking train flying through the air and I hate it. I find it the most unnatural fucking thing in the world. [helicopter flies overhead] There’s a fucking disaster waiting to happen.
Playboy: What would you be doing right now if you were in Ireland?
Farrell: I’d be drinking pints of Carlsberg. I genuinely miss the normality of going up to the fucking pub at seven or eight every evening, having five or six pints and carrying on the same conversations for 15 fucking years with the same mates, laughing about stupid shit. A lot of people here work their asses off during the week and go fucking bananas on weekends. We work our asses off as well, but every weeknight, we go and have a few pints with a dinner of lasagna or some fucking chips, fucking chicken Kiev or a big steak with some fucking sautéed onions. I miss that, big time.
Playboy: You grew up far from the troubles that have plagued Northern Ireland for so long. Still, you must have taken a stand on the issue.
Farrell: In an ideal world, it would be nice for Ireland to be one country because it’s such a pretty fucking island. But I don’t live up there, so it’s not about me. It was never on my porch, never on my front doorstep. But it would affect you, you know, an inordinate amount because at the end of the day, it’s your Ireland, your country, your people, whether they pledge allegiance to the queen or not. They have Northern Irish accents, they’re Irish people and they’re fucking going bananas on each other.
Playboy: What are your feelings about the IRA?
Farrell: A bunch of fucking scumbags and terrorists – that’s all there is to it. You cannot fucking put a bomb on a crowded street and kill a lot of men, women and children and call your cause just. There is no fucking justification for that. A hit is a different thing. It’s still wrong to take another life, but a hit is a decision made to take out one person for a particular reason. I’m not condoning it, but that’s much easier to justify than what the IRA has gotten involved in.
Playboy: Would you go to war?
Farrell: If somebody ever harmed any of my family. I would always fight for what I believe in. If I were alive in 1910, I would have been in the bushes with a rifle trying to kick the English out of my country back in the day when we were being suppressed. But as for war, the repercussions are very real. The blood is red and real and doesn’t dry as quickly as you might think.
Playboy: What’s the best thing about having money?
Farrell: I really don’t want that much. A few beers, a packet of smokes and I’m a happy fucking boy. To be able to do that and be able to send my mother this or that or, when she’s here, to send her down to a spa for a fucking $400 six hour session of manicures, pedicures, every cure. Oh, fucking man, you cannot get her out of there. She loves it. What else do I need?
Playboy: And if all the jobs, the fame, the opportunities were to end?
Farrell: I love my job and I take it much more serious than I take myself. I think I’ll probably want to do this for a long while. But if it were all to end tomorrow, I would go home. I’d write. I’d open a pub called Flagger’s, from “Flagge,” a nickname one of the lads gave me as a kid. That would be grand. But it’s nice to know my level of grandness would be made easier by the amount of money I’d earned in the past few years. If I decide to pack this in, or the opportunity to do this was taken away from me, it’s nice to know I have enough money to be sure my kids would have an education. And there would always be a house with food, clothes and central heating. And my beers and smokes. I’d have some great stories, too.