Fright-ful stuff from Colin Farrell

hot Magazine, Issue 179, September 2011

Fright-ful stuff
Colin Farrell discovers his inner vampire in this bloody new film

By Sophia Goh

Move over, all ye undead, there’s a new vampire in town and he’s played by Colin Farrell. The 35-year-old actor, one of Hollywood’s more talented and experimental thespians, tackles comedy, horror and bloodsucking as Jerry in Fright Night, a remake of the 1985 film of the same name.

The movie also stars Anton Yelchin, Toni Collette and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and pits Anton’s character Charley Brewster against Colin’s Jerry when the two become new neighbours, and Charley suspects Jerry of being a vampire. Are you surprised? Colin’s certainly good-looking enough, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned from Hollywood in the last few years, it’s that vampires are almost always, well, drop dead gorgeous.

So there we were, waiting by the telephone at a quarter to twelve one night, because a chat with Colin is something we’d never even dream of passing up. Colin was probably a little tired – he yawned just as we were starting the interview – but that didn’t stop him from sharing his thoughts on Fright Night, his career, and a little bit on fatherhood.

What drew you to the role of Jerry?
I had just come off the back of a few films that were kind of heavy in subject matter, and playing characters that I found were quite emotionally challenging, I suppose. I’d come off a film set in a gulag in Russia during World War II, called The Way Back, and before that a heavy drama. I just wanted to do something that was lighter and more fun, and that was designed for entertainment purposes. So I read Fright Night – I loved the original – and I loved it, and I met Craig Gillespie (the director) and he had a very clear idea of the type of film he wanted to make, it seemed like a real go and that was it. I went to work.

What was it like working with Anton and Christopher? They’re relatively young whereas you’re really experienced. How did that go?
Anton’s probably been working longer than I have. He’s been in films since he was four or something, so there’s plenty of experience there. I have plenty of experience as well. The lads were cool; I think they enjoyed themselves in Albuquerque in summer, and they seemed to strike up a really good friendship. It was fun. It was a bunch of actors having a lot of fun, really. Bringing that material alive, you know, the last thing you want to do is limit yourself by continuously trying to ground everything in reality. We spent most of the time sort of stretching the boundaries of what we were actually passing off for the real world, so we were allowed enough room to play, and it was fun playing a vampire.

What was the most fun thing about the entire shoot for you?
Probably where we were shooting. I love shooting in Albuquerque. I just love the desert sky, the expansiveness of the sky actually, in the middle of New Mexico. The wind, the lightning at night, striking its way across the sky, watching it from my hotel room… I just love Albuquerque. But it was fun to play a vampire. Vampires are an archetypal character; I try to just investigate that time-honoured archetype, that time-honoured character. I could actually play with it and find my vampire. It was fun. I kind of wish I had a little bit more romance involved. [Jerry] is kind of like the vampire we’ve gotten used to in the last few years, a very plaintive and melancholy vampire, which isn’t a bad thing, but I would have loved to be more of a, I don’t want to say, bad vampire. But this guy, he’s a killer, a scavenger, a survivor.

Were you hesitant about the fact that you would be another vampire in an industry that’s full of them at the moment?
No, because I know everything comes in trends, especially in Hollywood. And if this one works, there will be more vampire movies made, you know. If this is like the tail end of the vampire thing, then that’s crap. I guess when they think something’s a good idea, and they see it works for people, they’re like, feed them more, feed them more! Gosh, a story’s a story is a story is a story, whether it’s gangsters or vampires or girls running through enchanted forests. Whatever it may be, when it comes to film, if a story is good, if it holds up, if the characters are drawn interestingly, the actors do their job, the director shoots and points the camera in a certain way, if he cuts it together in a satisfying way and the story moves, and if it grips you and you’re not bored, well then, it doesn’t really matter what’s the subject matter. It’s so easy to go, oh it’s so boring, it’s another vampire movie. I get it, but if the film works, the film works. It’s simple, you know. Just because the film is about a bunch of humans doesn’t mean it’s going to be original or it’s going to be interesting. We know that ourselves. A lot of films prove that theory. Whatever the container is, within that if the work is done, you hope that the film shines and people connect to it.

You’ve done really varied roles in all sorts of different genres, perhaps more varied than a lot of actors today. Was that a conscious decision on your part or did it just happen to turn out that way?
No, I am conscious that I have worked in a wide variety of genres. I know that I have played a wide variety of characters, from a great many social backgrounds and different nationalities and different sexual preferences; I mean, really different people. And it’s just really fun. It’s just one of the cooler things about the job, that I get to investigate the lives of others and I get to, in my own little humble way, pick up some books and newspapers and music and whatever it may be from different areas that I may not have been exposed to, and really try to enter a time and place that is not the time and place that I hail from. If I were to do the same sort of thing, I think I would be really, really bored. Look, I’m lucky that I get paid very well to do something that I love, and the money’s great and my family’s secure and that’s all fantastic. I’m so grateful for that. To me, the next thing is to have a varied career. There are things that come up where I go, this feels very familiar, and it turns me off. Not because I’m afraid that anyone will judge me, it’s just a very personal thing. I feel like I’ve done this, I don’t want to do something I feel like I’ve done because I don’t want to repeat myself.

You’re now the proud father of two boys. Has that changed your approach to acting or maybe the kind of roles that you choose?
Not really. Inevitably, helping life to come into the world changes you in some way, shape or form. And it changes, affects and informs your work. That’s great, absolutely, but the specific ways in which it does I have no idea.

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