Colin Farrell was in top form during his brief meeting with local journalists, here in Los Angeles to promote the small, indie film, A Home at the End of the World. Oblivious to the rules surrounding smoking, the perennially unflustered Irishman, had a bottle of Guinness in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Nothing has changed for the 28-year-old who, when we met during the Daredevil junket, mentioned his mother's concerns over his love of profanity, smoking and various other extra curricular activities.
Lighting up a fag in a Beverly Hills hotel room, Farrell says that despite his vices, his mum remains proud of her boy.
"She's kind of carried the same amount of pride all her life, regardless of what I've done or what I've put myself in; she's that strong." Farrell laughingly concedes that his mother reads what is written about him, both good and bad, "and she puts half of that sh*t in her scrap book."
Farrell, a father of a 10-month-old these days to model Kim Bordenave, says he is not sure whether he is slowing down, and certainly doesn't care about his smoking and drinking in the midst of a press junket. He has said that he won't allow any of his bad habits to impinge on his responsibilities as a father.
"The first time you hold your baby in your arms, a sense of strength and love washes over you, and I never thought that possible," Farrell says, sipping some beer. " I love him in a different and stronger way than I love my mother. It's a very strange, pure and beautiful love, and unconditional to the extreme. Yet I still don't know precisely how it's changed me." Farrell adds that fatherhood hasn't changed his work ethic, but admits that "it certainly gives you a deeper resource to draw from."
Coincidentally, he plays a father in his new film, A Home at the End of the World. From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours, this film chronicles a dozen years in the lives of two best friends who couldn't be more different. From suburban Cleveland in the 60s, to New York City in the 80s, where they meet an older woman, the film charts a journey of trials, triumphs, loves and losses.
Farrell plays the purely innocent Bobby Morrow, a character who seems to question his own sexuality. Despite his love affair with Clare [Robin Wright Penn], Bobby could be regarded as bisexual, given the closeness he feels to friend Jonathan, yet Farrell denies that his character is either gay or even bisexual.
"He's not aware enough of sexuality. I mean, he is probably aesexual, but not sexual, just a lover. So when or if Jonathan dies, Bobby could move back to New York and if he met a girl who rocked his world, he'd be with her and if he met a boy who rocked his world, he'd be with him. Again, you can call that bisexual, of course, but Bobby wouldn't even know that. If you said to him, 'You're bisexual,' he'd think you were talking about purchasing sex," Farrell says laughingly.
Farrell says that there are some parallels between the actor and this rather gentle character, including Bobby's openness. "I'm a pretty open fella, which you might've guessed, but I'm also not as gentle as him. To be that gentle and that open is almost so damaging. It's as if he's completely reverted back to being the perfect form which is what you were like when you were born, and before you became so f***ing cynical."
There is perhaps more interest in A Home at the End of the World, because of the much publicised excising of his genitalia from the movie. Farrell says that he not only surprised by how much press attention was made of the cutting of his nudity, describing the attention boring. "There's got to be more happening. F*ck! We know there's more happening in the world, and in cinema, internationally."
Farrell says that the cut has nothing to do with American cinema's puritanical outlook on sex but "a bunch of bureaucratic newspaper editors".
"The problem is that they're just going, 'Oh my God, Colin Farrell's cock. Sh*t, so lets write about that. Was it too big? Was it too small? Was it too wide? Was it too skinny? Was it an 'innie' or an 'outtie'?' Do you know what I mean? I know the reason that it was cut out was that it just wasn't right. If anything, it's a beautiful, gentle moment and a f***ing large cock with huge balls, is just f***ing jarring."
Farrell insists that he was partly responsible for cutting the shot. "I wouldn't have shot it if I'd had had a problem with it."
Asked whether it is true that he joked about his penis' size being too distracting, the always affable Farrell exclaims. "Someone else did, those b*stards!... Someone else also said, 'He's no Ewan McGregor, who's hung like a Jedi' "
While Farrell is trying to dismiss penis size and bisexuality, invariably the subject of Alexander comes around. Farrell says that the Oliver Stone-directed epic, will present the legendary Alexander the Great in a fair light, including his own bisexuality.
"You know he's bi-sexual and that's all you really even need to know. However, you don't even need to know that because there was no term for sexuality back then in respect to categorizing it as homosexuality, bisexuality, or heterosexuality. It was a time when men and men laid together and shared knowledge and women primarily had babies. But later on in life, as we got more technologically and sociologically adept, we started to put titles on everything. We decided for the few what was right or wrong or the few decided for the multitude what was right or wrong."
Farrell says that in Alexander, his private life will certainly be out there, however, "It's hard to have a private life when you're a king, but his personal life, for sure, is touched on, but not in a way that highlights it," Farrell explains. "I'll tell you one thing, anything that was needed for Oliver to tell a story the way that he intended it to be told is not taken out as a result of, again, appeasing the people or being afraid of what people won't be able to handle."
Farrell says that working on Alexander was his toughest work experience to date. "You're playing Alexander, which was just a life with so much loss, ambition, destiny, so many questions and very few answers. It was physically, emotionally, psychologically draining and there was so much philosophical thought, feeling and pain that went into it. For my money, it's a pretty sad story. It's not 'Alexander the Great, TADA!', but a pretty sad, heavy story."
The toughness of making Alexander had as much to do as the demands placed on him by director Oliver Stone. "Oliver definitely demands a different respect as each human demands a different way of trying to pull them out of themselves and dance with him. Oh man, he was very honest with me from day one, very tough and he should've been."
Tough, Farrell says, "in the brutality of his honesty... At the same time, when he told you that was a great take, you knew it was a great take. He didn't dance around the truth, thank God, and there are not enough people in the world that has the brutal honesty that he has."
Farrell is about to start work with reclusive director Terrence Malick on A New World, in which he stars as John Smith in the historical drama. Farrell describes Malick, who never gives interviews, as "an incredible man, who must be something of enigma for you. He's very, very shy, highly intelligent, but very gentle with his intelligence, like not overtly mouthy, but just a very gentle spirit. And, as intelligent as he is, he's very childlike and sees details everywhere. Just gorgeous." Farrell has also wrapped Robert Towne's Ask the Dust, with Salma Hayek.
Farrell says he is definitely single at present, and though he misses Dublin, he remains a nomad. "Maybe I should be thinking more into the future, but I dare not think too far ahead on the risk that I'll miss the present. I don't want to do that, because the present is pretty good. I'm working hard, I have a beautiful son, and as long as I can be with him and as long as he always knows where his dad is, I can go work as well," he says.
"I've lived out of a suitcase for five years. I have no place here in LA, but I have a place I Dublin which I rarely see. But I miss Dublin very much, yet it'll always be there for me." Not to mention the Guinness, which he says is obviously the best in the world. "Oh God, by a mile. Nowhere comes close, cheers", he adds, raising a bottle of inferior Guinness as he quickly makes his exit.
Alexander's UK release is 3rd December 2004