You’d think by now Colin Farrell has seen it all.
Colin Farrell has dated everyone from Britney Spears and Demi Moore to Angelina Jolie. For some of the last decade, he was portrayed as the acting world’s biggest menace since Oliver Reed. He’s even proudly told how he once tried it on with octogenarian actress Dame Eileen Atkins and wanted to be Elizabeth Taylor’s “eighth husband”.
Yet Farrell found his new film The Lobster a proposition so bizarre even the former hard-living Irishman was tempted to give it the swerve.
Made by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, the whacked-out sci-fi comedy-drama is set in a dystopian future where single people are obliged to find a partner in 45 days or face being turned into wild animals and released into the woods. It’s a savage satire à la Spike Jonze on the desperation behind the modern dating world.
“Marriage is not for everybody. I believe some people need to be single their whole lives, whether through choice or lack of fortune”
As the title suggests, Farrell’s character David fancies becoming a lobster if love doesn’t work out, as they can live for over 100 years, they’re blue-blooded (“like aristocrats”) and he likes the sea.
The title may be a nod to the myth propagated by Phoebe from Friends that lobsters mate for life and clack around clutching each other’s claws until they die. In fact, the crustaceans aren’t monogamous. In reality, a bunch of female lobsters fan their pheromone-laced urine around a dominant male, who then takes turns with several of them for a week or two before they all move on.
Farrell stars opposite Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman and Ben Whishaw in The Lobster and his is the only character given a name (Weisz plays ‘Short-Sighted Woman’.) Unlike David, Farrell has, of course, spent considerably longer than 45 days trying to find his soulmate.
He had a “wedding” ceremony to singer/actress Amelia Warner in 2001 but it wasn’t legal so their union was never formalised.
Now, 14 years on, he declares he doesn’t give a toss about finding “the one”.
Farrell told Loaded, “I don’t have any pressure at all about being single. I’m fine as a single man. I believe in relationships and marriage and people sharing their lives. But marriage isn’t for everybody. I believe some people need to be single their whole lives, whether through choice or lack of fortune. I don’t believe in any one way.”
Possibly thinking about the prospect of dying alone, he paused and laughed before he added, “I change my opinion on this so many times. I’ll change it between lunch and dinner.”
Farrell said The Lobster shows “the pressures society puts on the notion that life isn’t validated if it’s lived alone”, so it’s a subject close to home.
The Dubliner, long relocated to Los Angeles, will turn 40 in May. He recently claimed he’s been so busy turning his life around and raising sons James, 12, and six-year-old Henry, he hasn’t dated anyone for four years.
An understanding of why he finds it hard to settle goes back longer than 2011.
His mum Rita remarried at the age of 70 after splitting with his dad Eamon. Farrell became a young shoplifter, spent a night in prison for joyriding, and was sent to two tough schools before he was eventually expelled at 17 for punching a teacher.
His relationship ups and downs since then included taking an injunction in 2005 against Playboy model Nicole Narain when she was said to be planning to release a 15-minute sex tape of one of her sessions with Farrell.
A year later, while Farrell was a guest on Jay Leno’s chatshow, studio audience member Dessarae Bradford accused him of stalking her and leaving explicit voicemails. She was slapped with a restraining order from the actor.
“I’m trying to get away from myself. There is no part of me that interests me, excites me or gets me off enough to look for it in somebody else”
After all that, what’s he after in a woman? A mother figure? Or just someone who won’t release a sex tape or accuse him of stalking?
Farrell admitted he’s not sure, apart from one thing: he doesn’t want to see a reflection of himself in lovers. “I wouldn’t look for any quality of mine in anyone else,” he said. “I’m trying to get away from myself. Jesus! There’s no part of me that interests me, excites me or gets me off enough to look for it in somebody else.”
Farrell was inspired to act because Steven Spielberg’s film ET reduced him to tears, and he got his break aged 21 in BBC1’s cheesy Sunday night religious drama Ballykissangel in 1998. By then he was already a seasoned drinker and swordsman.
It’s been a different story than booze and bed-notches for a long time.
“Going out drinking is boring,” Farrell smiled. “Been there done that. It’s so very passé – it’s very 2005.”
It’s well-worn ground Farrell now lives on a diet of yoga and hiking around his home.
“I live pretty healthy, I must say,” he nodded. “I certainly live healthier than I ever thought I would. It’s not really an exercise in vanity, though I wouldn’t say vanity isn’t in the building at all.”
The Lobster garnered good reviews but Farrell’s previous big outing in the second series of True Detective was skewered by critics.
Compared to the Woody Harrelson/Matthew McConaughey double-act from season one, True Detective 2 was sneered at as TV’s equivalent of Difficult Second Album Syndrome. While season two was showing, a group of fans of the first run put Wild West-style posters online that read, ‘Wanted – True Detective 2’s plot’.
Farrell admitted he knew viewers would give series two a tough time.
“When I first heard True Detective was having a second season I thought, ‘Ooh, who wants to go near that?’” he said. “A lot of people loved the first season so much that they were kind of, ‘Argh!’, before the second series even started. I wish there was something like Men In Black, where everyone had the first season wiped from their memory and just experienced season two as itself.”
His Men In Black solution to criticism wouldn’t seem out of place in the plot of The Lobster. Chatting about the film’s premise Farrell admitted he was initially baffled.
“I can’t say that I fully understood the script when I first read it,” he said. “I really do think it defies categorisation. It’s every critic’s job to try to categorise it, but there are no wrong opinions of what it’s about and what the meaning of the film is. My one great fear for a film called The Lobster was that I’d get picked up and put in boiling water — boiled alive by Glenn Close.”
Given his previous relationships, Farrell can’t be blamed for making a yoga mat his only fatal attraction these days.