Colin Farrell Talked to Me About Love, Longevity, and Lobsters
Manhattan's Baccarat Hotel is an old-fashioned luxury establishment where pleated silk drapes the walls, cafe tables are cut from immaculate white marble, and anything that could be crystal is crystal. But its bar is more like a cavernous speakeasy -- a chillingly empty one when I arrive to my interview with actor Colin Farrell to discuss his new movie, The Lobster.
Everything's a little off at the timeless setting -- Farrell himself, who appears to have walked off the cover of a fashion magazine; the view out the window, with mist drifting along the city block, just to make this feel as much like The Shining as possible; and the surreal conversation, which focuses on a movie about true love, carnal instincts, futuristic dystopias, and transforming human beings into animals. The venue for the chat with Farrell about The Lobster was so perfect that we didn't even notice that lobster rolls were on the menu.
This place is extravagant.
God, it really is, isn't it? It's so empty.
Have you shacked up in any peculiar hotels over the years?
The Parknasilla, the place we shot The Lobster, was pretty spooky -- not to just take the opportunity for some free publicity. Beautiful, but it was just old. It was on the west coast of Ireland, in a town called Sneem.
Is it close to where you grew up?
About three-hours drive. From one coast to the other. Dublin is on the east coast and then Sneem is kind of southwest on the lip of the Atlantic Ocean.
In the movie, society threatens to turn your character into an animal if he doesn't fall in love within a 45-day window. Your brother had already been turned into a dog. Do you have a new sympathy for animals? Have you gone vegan?
No. I am a carnivore, yeah. Or, omnivore. Every now and then I get a hankering for a piece of red meat.
Every now and then I get a hankering for a piece of red meat.
What were you shooting when you learned about The Lobster? Did you experience dramatic whiplash? The movie is idiosyncratic in every way imaginable.
I was in-between jobs and I don't think I had anything lined up. Had I lined up True Detective? I'm not sure if True Detective was on the cards because that came after The Lobster. I had seen Dogtooth, [director] Yorgos Lanthimos' previous work. I hadn't seen Alps yet, but I heard that the same director who did Dogtooth is making his first English language film. I thought this should be interesting, based on what an experience I had in the theater watching Dogtooth and how overwhelmed and assaulted my senses were. So I read the script of Lobster and I found it head-scratchingly good and beautiful and absurd and violent. A kind of kaleidoscopic experience.
Do you go to the movie theater often?
I love going to the movies. Yeah, all the time. I'm a fan of film, first. I would hate just because I'm involved in the making of films for that to cut into my enjoyment of them as a cinema-goer. Room had a really kind of strong effect on me, when I saw Room. That moved me because of the writing and particularly the physical situation in the first hour of the film, it felt like there was a particular cinematic [experience] that was created, represented by the unusualness of the world that she presented to the child. I think that Brie Larson is amazing, but just to see a kid go through what you see that child go through in the film, I thought was incredibly moving.
The Lobster speaks universally about love, but do you think the idea of people scrutinizing romantic relationships satirizes Hollywood in a specific way?
Not at all. I think the filmmakers have bigger sights than having a poke at Hollywood or any of those conventions. Yorgos and his co-writer start off with whatever the idea is they start off with, whether it's to do with romantic love or relationships. Then it branches out and becomes bigger and bigger and, as it needs to, the story involves.
So you didn't binge-watch The Bachelor to prep for the movie.
No, never. That's my sister.
You and she attended the Met Gala together the other night. What the hell is that event like?
Crazy, man. You stand there and you go on the red carpet and then you walk around the museum and then you sit down and have dinner and then you leave. It was my first time there. It was easy, actually -- it wasn't as overwhelming as I thought it would be. The red carpet was a bit of a big affair, but it was all incredibly well-orchestrated. Jesus, it was like a military mission.
The Lobster swings for the fences with its exploration of love. Did you walk away from the movie with romantic enlightenment?
No, no. God, love is still as confounding as ever. Just, what is it? It's unquantifiable.
Though there are reporters who scrutinize your love life on a daily basis. That must be relatable.
Yeah, there's that. Through the years you learn to try and turn a blind eye to that. It's not always possible to ignore what's being said or what's being spoken of in regards to you life. I live in Los Angeles, but I don't feel like I live in Hollywood. I truly don't. I'm not outside of it in a negative way. I'm not not part of the community. I go to the Golden Globes or whatever and I see people that I work with or people that I've gotten to know a little bit through the years. Outside of that or outside of the twice a year where I may step on a red carpet, I have no part in that world. I have a couple of kids and I have a couple of mates.
A big shift from a decade ago.
Ah, yeah, ten years ago I was more... Life was just different. Just tipping 40 now, so life is very different than it was ten years ago.
I wouldn't mind living for 100 years.
Your character wants to become a lobster because he'll live for 100 years. Share the feeling?
I wouldn't mind living for 100 years.
Really? What would you want to see?
I don't know, whatever year 87 provides for me.
What will they think of Minority Report in 100 years?
It's kind of a bit dated already! No, no, but shit's just moving very quickly. Retinal scans and tube stations and shit. Things are happening very fast.
Is that scary for you?
Now a moment of reflection. It's been a year since you jumped to HBO for True Detective. How was that experience, in retrospect?
I loved it. I did, I loved that character. I loved playing Ray Velcoro. I really, really did. I could have kept going with it for a while. I know the receipt of it was sketchy. The first year was so strong, across the board, and it was such a shock to people. It came out of nowhere, seemingly, so the expectation was high and also the expectation of disappointment was present and all that kind of stuff. But I loved, from the inside, telling that story. I loved it.
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Matt Patches is Thrillist’s Entertainment Editor. He previously wrote for Grantland, Esquire.com, Vulture, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Guardian. He would become a polar bear. Find him on Twitter @misterpatches.