Colin Farrell talks about the great Alexander
Colin Farrell seems to be taking over Hollywood in the last few years. Headlinine blockbusters like SWAT, critical favorites like Phone Booth and joining ensembles like Daredevil, Minority Report and The Recruit, not to mention indie films and cameos, Farrell has been everywhere. Now he’s finally got a role to complement his hype, Alexander the Great. But he just wanted to work with the legendary Oliver Stone.
“The chance to work with Oliver was the most attractive thing about it,” Farrell said. “And then a close second was how fantastic a script he wrote. Then, a very close third or maybe joint second was the part itself. It was just an amazing, amazing part and amazing character. And I knew it would be an absolute trip.”
Finding a way into the mind of a legendary historical figure was a task for everyone. The film had to choose the moments of Alexander’s life that fit into three hours or less. The supporting actors had to figure out where they fit into Alexander’s life. And Farrell had to define the man himself.
“Really by definition, I saw him as somebody who was very brave, very bold, was highly ambitious, highly impassioned, was quite lonely, was quite damaged from his childhood and what he had seen his parents do to each other, had quite unusual ideas about love or about relationships,” Farrell said. “And also quite a fear that he would never find love and he had incredible trust issues. Regardless of how he was viewed by some people as son of a god or close to a god in his life, he at the end of the day was only mortal. And I think he realized that. I think he understood that immortality could only be achieved through the final question which was death. And that’s what proved to be right because in a certain way he is immortal. Two and a half thousand years later, people are still studying him in schools. They’re talking about two movies with him now, there’s the History Channel. But I think he was highly melancholic. I think he was a very melancholic man. I think there was a certain part of him that remained the age he was when he saw his mother and father rip each other apart. I think a certain amount of him was kind of in arrested development. And I think that part of him was the melancholy part and the very sensitive side to him. And he could also be a motherf*cker, a tyrant at times. I mean, desperate times call for desperate measures and he committed some atrocities under his rule. But you just have so much is the thing.”
Lest anyone think Farrell is overanalyzing, Farrell asserted, “All this sh*t I’m saying I really believe and could’ve got more in and could’ve done with getting less in. It’s just you would never be finished with it. I don't know how Oliver even finished cutting the film, finished writing the script. I don't know how his head was on the last day of shooting. To walk away from it and think that you ever achieved it or hit the nail on the head or nailed it, it just doesn’t happen with this. Which is why I’d love to see another film. I’d love to see as many films as people would be willing to put money or make, because there’s so much to it that you could never come out of this place with the same two results.”
Farrell has never liked working out for his movies, though he has had to for the CIA thriller The Recruit and the police actioner SWAT. Alexander required Farrell to become a full on ancient warrior. “It was harder. It was worse. I hated it. It was just hard. I worked out more. I get no kicks from going to the gym. It doesn’t do it for me. Never did. Some people like it. Some people enjoy working out and enjoy the feeling, the afterglow that it gives. I don't know what you call it, but it’s never done it for me. But I did a lot of physical training for Alexander, more than I ever did before. I put on much more weight than I ever have before and I hated every minute of it.”
When it came time for the actual military training though, Farrell had a blast. “I liked the boot camp because that wasn’t about working out and stuff. That was just about being with a bunch of [guys]. I mean, we did a little bit of physical training in the morning. We jogged every morning, but it was done for a couple of reasons. It was done to bring the cast together, to allow us to learn about each other and to form relationships that would create trust and to also do some physical stuff. But there was no going to the gym and weight lifting, and no protein shakes. But we jogged every morning and we did some physical training and we did pretty much something akin to what we think Macedonian men would have done every day just to keep a certain level of strength or a certain level of morale every day for three weeks.”
Alexander is still scrutinized to this day, a phenomenon of which Farrell has gotten a taste due to his openness in the media. “I foolishly have been unable to segregate between the difference of sitting in a pub and having a conversation with someone and sitting with somebody who writes for a living, knowing that your words and your quotes are going to be read by many others. I have forgotten that very simple fact from time to time. And as a result of that, I’ve spoken freely and honestly about past experiences, and they’ve been printed verbatim with what I’ve said and certain people have been up in arms. And certain people have the right to be up in arms. In Dublin, some of the quotes I gave, and there are certain things that have happened in certain people’s lives, people I’ve never met and they’ve lost people. And certain people have suffered some sickness and I spoke at times when I probably shouldn’t have said what I said, but I never meant any harm and I was always talking about personal experiences. But I’ve talked them all to death now and now maybe should start talking about the f*cking work.”
That work, despite his own achievements, continues to challenge Farrell. “I don’t feel like I’m at any point of arrival or I’ve achieved anything that I hadn’t achieved before I started acting. I mean, I know that sounds ridiculous because of course I have on paper. But I’m still me, I’m still working, I’m still not trying to reach the next stage of my career with respect to ambition, but just with respect to my own fulfillment as an actor or a person. And I don’t live in Hollywood so I haven’t been here in so f*cking long, I’ve just been working. So I’ve been on sets with crews and you go out with crew and the cast and you have a drink and you work hard. I’ve been doing that for a year and a half since Alexander. I haven’t been home. I’ve just been involved in just living and working so I haven’t seen the other stuff or felt the perceptions of what might be going on.”
After Alexander, Farrell made Ask the Dust with writer/director Robert Towne, and then immediately began work with Terrence Malick on The New World. But Farrell always has time for family, particularly his son. “He visited me in Virginia while I was doing the Malick film, and the older he gets, the easier it will be. He’s upstairs now, so he’s here in the hotel and I have him while I’m here.”
Alexander opens today.
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