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Wednesday 16 October 2019

Colin Farrell smoked up to 120 cigarettes a day during Phone Booth filming

Colin Farrell at the European premiere of Dumbo (Matt Crossick/PA)
Colin Farrell at the European premiere of Dumbo (Matt Crossick/PA)
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

COLIN Farrell has revealed he was so nervous he smoked up to 120 cigarettes a day during Phone Booth filming but felt “magic” walking onto the set of Dumbo recently.

The 42-year-old Dubliner has opened up to Virgin Media’s Lisa Cannon about how hard it was for him to go from BBC drama, Ballykissangel in 1998, to Hollywood.

And his nerves were such an issue on 2003’s Phone Booth movie, he chain smoked during filming.

“It was fun but I was shi**ing myself, I was so nervous, I was so stressed - I smoked about 120 cigarettes a day,” Farrell told Lisa Cannon on Box Office, to be aired tonight.

“I remember clearly I was just chaining in between takes.

“Will Smith was going to do it (Phone Booth), Jim Carrey was going to do it and then for whatever reason, they didn’t work out, so yeah, muggins stepped in.”

Farrell, who was first thrust into the LA spotlight when he was cast as Private Roland Bozz in war drama, Tigerland, in 2000, still feels blessed to work as an actor despite his long-lasting stardom.

“Joel Schumacher (Director of Tigerland) took a punt on an Irish actor, who had very little experience,” Farrell said.

“I’d done Ballykissangel, so every single job was a big step.  To work as an actor is huge, just that, regardless of what the work is - it’s got an unemployment rate of above 90pc, so to be a working actor is huge.

“Working on Tigerland was a gorgeous opportunity for me.”

The star’s latest movie project, heartwarming Disney classic Dumbo, has just been released in Irish cinemas.

The actor plays a World War I veteran-turned sad clown, who takes care of the baby elephant as the animal goes on a journey of self-discovery.

“I often don’t pinch myself,” Farrell said.  “And this was one time where I kinda walked the set and felt like a kid, going, this is just magic.  How did I get here?”

The Tim Burton adaption has opened to mixed reviews but it’s clear Farrell felt a child-like excitement in gaining the role.

“We didn’t have a flying elephant,” he joked.  “We didn’t have an elephant at all,” he revealed, discussing the CGI utilised in the film.

“When Dumbo was taking flight they had a laser point, so we could all have the same eyeliner and follow the elephant around.

“Ed Osmand, the actor (who played Dumbo) was dressed head to toe in green spandex, God bless him, every day, figure hugging as spandex tends to be.

“He had slits, 12 inches at the end of each arm, to put his body in the right configuration and he obviously spent hours on You Tube watching baby elephants.  It was quite extraordinary.”

But despite feeling a sense of joy on Dumbo, not every movie job is filled with happy memories for Farrell, who explained, “Each job I have my own struggles with however it’s received.”

“You always get a gift whether you’re getting the biggest slap in the face or pat on the back.  There’s always something to grow from…

“In Bruges certainly was received critically...in a much more positive way perhaps that some of the things I’d done up until then…

“I certainly hold the experience of working with Brendan Gleeson, who I hold dear to me. I can’t believe I’ve not worked with Brendan since. I love that man so much.”

And knowing just how tough the world can be - Farrell has had his own personal ups and downs over the years - the star feels parenting means preparing kids for the big bad world.

“We do that as parents, sometimes, I think (tough parenting),” he said.  “We expose our kids to maybe too much ‘cause we want to toughen them up for the world instead of going the world will toughen them up in their own time.”

The Castleknock actor is father to James, 15, who has Angelman Syndrome, a rare neuro-genetic disorder characterised by developmental delays, lack of speech, seizures and impaired balance and son, Henry, nine.

Box Office airs tonight at 9.30pm on Virgin Media Two.

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