Colin Farrell told this story in a recent Hollywood Reporter roundtable of 2022’s Best Actor contenders. When Martin McDonagh asked why his chosen star wasn’t taking yes for an answer, Farrell answered, “This script is so good. You don’t want anyone coming in with the baggage that I have.” What baggage does he mean?
After his promising breakout in “Tigerland,” Farrell’s career had a rocky start. His campy performance as Bullseye in 2003’s “Daredevil” was memorable for the wrong reasons. The next year, he played Alexander the Great in Oliver Stone’s eponymous epic — and according to Farrell, that’s when he really started to question himself:
“They had all the printed reviews […] ‘Alexander the Dull,’ ‘Alexander the Boring,’ ‘Alexander the Inarticulate,’ ‘Alexander the Weak.’ I was like, ‘Holy s***.’ I thought, ‘What can I do?’ I felt so much shame. I found myself in a place where with everyone I met I wanted to say, ‘Have you seen ‘Alexander’? If you have, I’m really sorry.’ I’m not even joking.”
There are gems in Farrell’s early filmography, such as Terrence Malick’s “The New World,” where he plays John Smith opposite Q’orianka Kilcher’s Pocahontas. “Miami Vice” has also been reclaimed as a classic. Still, it wasn’t a hit at the time, and overall, the bad outweighs the good.
Farrell’s offscreen life wasn’t great either. He dated everyone from Britney Spears to Elizabeth Taylor, and a sex tape of his was leaked in 2006. Just the year before, he underwent rehab for alcoholism and drug addiction. Farrell has since been open about his regrets from this period in his life.
When offered “In Bruges,” Farrell fit a lot of the negative stereotypes about Hollywood actors and, thanks to his unimpressive resume, wasn’t even considered that bankable. But McDonagh wasn’t listening.