Saving Colin Farrell from yet more guns

By Leena Tailor

The good guys have finally won out over the bad guys for Colin Farrell's movie roles.

Ruth Wilson and Colin Farrell in a scene from Saving Mr Banks.
Ruth Wilson and Colin Farrell in a scene from Saving Mr Banks.

That Irish accent echoing down the hallway, followed by the subtle waft of cigarette smoke, signals Colin Farrell's arrival.

After dropping 4-year-old son James to school, the actor has stepped out from a few months downtime playing dad to his two lads to talk about his latest flick A Winter's Tale.

Just as recent years have seen his personal life switch gears from booze, drugs and rehab to sober fatherhood to Henry and James (who has Angelman syndrome), so have his film choices. A Winter's Tale and Saving Mr Banks marked a significant turn away from the gun-toting roles for which he is known.

"I don't know why I've done so many films that have me chasing people because I'm not a fan of guns," the Dublin native tells Living. "I don't like them at all. I've been saying to myself for four years I don't want to do any more films with guns and then I end up doing one.

Those credits have included Total Recall, In Bruges and Dead Man Down and while Farrell doesn't rule out doing more action films - he has just read the script for the film adaptation of video game World of Warcraft - at 37, he says age and fatherhood are inadvertently informing his film choices.

"Not to get into the debate about movie violence and the effect it has on society, but guns and violence turn me off more and more. Maybe my taste is becoming more refined - human interaction and the status of a person's emotional and mental wellbeing is more interesting than good guys against bad guys.

"The quality of the script I found in Saving Mr Banks was so astonishingly moving and such a kaleidoscope of different sentiments and sensibilities, and A Winter's Tale was the same. It was a beautifully written, moving story, so I'm delighted I get a chance to step away from revenge. It has been more fun."

Based on the 1983 novel by Mark Helprin, the film follows Peter Lake (Farrell), a thief in the early-20th century, who falls in love with one of his burglary victims, an heiress dying of tuberculosis.

While escaping his boss-turned-enemy Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe), he is transported to modern-day New York where he sets out to find his lost love in Manhattan.

New York plays an instrumental role in the film, but filming was interrupted by October 2012's destructive Hurricane Sandy.

"When Sandy came, it was mad. You got this feeling that something life-altering was about to take place. I had never experienced anything of that breadth and destruction. It was a cold, cold winter.

"But I loved New York. The energy is a crossing point of all that is good, wrong, fearful, hopeful, greedy and altruistic in the world. It's a crucible for all those things and features heavily in the film."

With his acting choices leaning more towards emotionally challenging characters these days, Farrell has been surprised at the power of such films to affect audiences.

"I try to stay away from the grandiose ideas about film and the power it can have on society but I do think it can inform the way people think and feel about things.

"Saving Mr Banks has affected a lot of people. There's a sweetness and certain type of emotional place that film lives in which is inspiring even some guys I know.

Tough guys who came out shamefully hiding their eyes.

"I was brought up to think emotions are a weakness, children should be seen and not heard and all that stuff but I think feeling is a good thing - whether it's sadness, anger or joy. What we do with emotion can end up being not such a good thing, particularly what we do with anger, but the emotion itself isn't a destructive force. So film does have the power to affect and change the way people view the world."

Saving Mr Banks moved many, but it was a notable snub in the Academy Award nominations. It landed a nod for Best Score but failed to deliver Emma Thompson an expected Best Actress nomination.

For Farrell, simply being part of Oscar conversations is a thrill.

"I've been part of plenty of other conversations that haven't been as pleasantly directed, so I'd much prefer a pat on the back than a kick in the ass.

"It's certainly not something I concern myself with too much but to be in a film that's getting the attention this film is getting is really cool. I'm more proud to be a supporting player in Mr Banks than I have been of films I've been a lead in.

"It's nice to be in something that people are reacting to in a positive way because I have a real respect for people going to the cinemas and spending $70-$80 on a night out, away from the kids.

"You really don't want to be making sh**! In fact, I've really wanted to apologise for some of the films I've done. I understand that's ridiculous, but with every film you want to do something that's worth two hours of people's time.

"So with Saving Mr Banks, the best thing I can say about being involved is that I don't believe it's a waste of time."

Saving Mr Banks opens Thursday, and A Winter's Tale screens from February 13.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 19 Sep 2014 14:51:55 Processing Time: 917ms