WATCH: Colin Farrell talks hitting middle age and his surreal new film The Lobster with Independent.ie
Colin Farrell's latest film The Lobster, a weird, heartwarming gem of a movie, won the coveted Jury Prize at Cannes this year. The 39-year-old Dublin actor spoke to Independent.ie about why he got on board, working with "as particular a director as I'll ever work with", career highs and low, and hitting middle age.
The film revolves around Farrell's character David, a guy who must spend 40 days in The Hotel, where he will either pair up with a female and marry, or remain single, in which case he will be turned into an animal of his choice.
He's accompanied by his brother, who is now a dog, having failed in his earlier attempt to find a partner at The Hotel.
Speaking about what drew him to the project Colin says, "The writing's just so particular and the imagination of these fellas [writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos and writer Efthmis Filippou] to come up with this world, you know, just the idea of being with a dog and the dog being my brother and it being so ridiculous.
"There are so many conventions in it that in and of themselves, if you removed any of them, individually, they're nonsense but they were put together in a such a beautiful kind of way, the puzzle was brought together with this absolute seamless logic."
He adds, "When I read it first yeah I thought it was really unusual but then shortly thereafter the whole thing made perfect sense ot me. I'd seen Yorgos' work with Dogtooth and saw what a kind of spectacular, extraordinary, singular kind of filmmaker he is.
"That's very hard to come by. You don't often get the Wes Andersons or the Paul Thomas Andersons, directors with a style, a particular way of shooting and setting their stories, a very particular sensibility about how to tell stories. Yorgos is very much one of those, very much. He's probably about as particular a filmmaker as I think I'll ever work with."
What the film has to say is open to interpretation. The world depicted values partnership above all else. It's a world where singledom and the associated loneliness can kill. Choosing the wrong partner can kills.
"The director won't tell you what it's about," says Colin, "The writer won't even tell you waht it's about. I don't even know if they have a definitive idea of what it's about. They're certainly not the kind of filmmakers that kind of try to impose their thoughts and ideologies on an audience. They're just interested in telling good awkward stores and seeing in what ways that can provoke an audience."
The actor says he does not feel pressure regarding whether or not the film is successful.
"This film didn't cost much to make and you're surrounded by a list of amazing actors. It's not just on me. It's not going to take much money to break even to get banal about it. I don't feel any pressure. It's just a bunch of us telling a story."
While his character is approaching middle age, Colin says "I don't really feel that but I've been called worse. That's an alright thing to say. I'll take it!"
"I've been around 15 years now and every now and then I won't think of that but somebody will say it or I'll recognise it somehow that I've been doing this for a long time, which is not to say it'll be around forever, or I want it to be around forever, or I need it to be around forever, but to be doing it for 15 years is a good while and I've had in that time wuite a few ups and quite a few downs.
"I've been fortunate enough to survive them so I don't get too fearful [of whether or not projets are successful]. I've done things that didn't find the audience they were supposed to find, things that did work that did find an audience they weren't even supposed to find, things that got plaudits they were never supposed to get - there's no rhyme nor reason in this racket."
He adds, "One thing I learned early on is to rid myself of any expectation. You always hope that things work but the idea of expectation is a trap - that would lead to an enormous amount of fear."
Colin turns 40 next year and the roles he's being offered are starting to change.
"For the first time ever I read a script that I was offered a part in and the script introduced the part and it said 'early middle aged' and I said, wow, there's only one time you get to have that for the first time. Early middle age, which by definition if I live to 90 I am so it's fine!"