Star couple in spotlight at Ondine premiere
RETURNING son Colin Farrell basked in the attention of eager fans last night as he made a long-awaited return to his hometown.
The actor, now a father-of-two, who has put his wild ways behind him, beamed at the waiting crowd as he strolled the carpet for the European premiere of Neil Jordan's 'Ondine' in Dublin.
As he returned for his first Irish film premiere in two years, the star was besieged by autograph hunters and flashing camera lights as he turned up outside the Savoy Cinema.
"It's gorgeous to be back in Dublin and premiere what is a very Irish film with familiar themes with regards to folklore and mythology," he said at the opening of the prestigious Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.
'Ondine' proved a life-changing film for Farrell.
It's a mythical tale in which he plays a fisherman who catches what he believes is a mermaid in his nets. But the 34-year-old actor got rather more than that when he fell in love with his co-star, Polish actress Alicja Bachleda, during the shoot.
The couple later celebrated the birth of a son, named Henry, who was born last October. Farrell also has a six-year-old son, James, whose mother is American model Kim Bordenave.
However, the actor admitted he had no idea what was in store for him when he started the shoot in Castletownbere, west Cork during the summer of 2008.
"You start most films and wonder, are you going to get to the end of the film. I had very few expectations. In hindsight it was a more profound experience then I thought it would be," he said.
'Ondine' director Neil Jordan said last night he was completely unaware of any romance between his two leading actors other than the on-screen frisson.
"They were acting, pretending to fall in love. It turned out that way but I wasn't aware of it. To tell you the truth they got together many months later but obviously there was an attraction there," he said.
This was backed up by Bachleda, turning up at the premiere last night in a stunning grey and luminous yellow Herve Leger dress, who said any early signs of what was to come didn't get in the way of the acting.
Farrell was joined on the red carpet by his mother Rita, sisters Catherine and Claudine, and brother Eamon along with his husband, artist Steven Mannion.
"I didn't know Colin until I met him on set and he kept it professional, really professional throughout the shoot," Bachleda said.
The actress said that any rising temperatures between them would have cooled quickly as they filmed many scenes in icy seas around west Cork.
"It was such a cold summer. The water was freezing. It was so cold you can see my face is swollen from the cold in the film. That said, 'Ondine' and shooting the film in Ireland was my first introduction to Irish nature which is like nothing else in the world," she said .
Jordan said he had written the film with Farrell in mind.
"I was writing this little story and I kept seeing him.
"I didn't tell him about it because I didn't know him that well, I knew him but I had never worked with him as a actor so when I finished it, I sent it to him. I didn't know if it was any good. But he said he loved it and wanted to do it."
Describing 'Ondine' as a "anti-Hollywood film", the Bray film-maker said he has written it to cheer Ireland up.
"They are so depressed here. It would drive you nuts. That's one of the reasons I wrote this movie because there are so many beautiful things about this country, particularly the landscape.
It hasn't been entirely spoilt by this Celtic Tiger.
"Ireland is still a very beautiful mythical place."