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.