Colin Farrell on addiction, self-control and confronting his inner sex beast Independent. He seemed on course to go the beautiful corpse route of Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger and other hard-living young stars of his generation. So to meet the year-old version - fit, lean, and as handsome as ever - is to feel the reflexive suspicion of his LA-ish activities rehab, hiking and yoga slowly subsiding. As with Russell Brand, clean living has both made Farrell's middle-class upbringing more apparent and given him a tendency toward baroque verbosity, but there is no doubt that sobriety becomes him.
The body language is less frantic, the fingernails are cleaner than they were in that infamous home movie, and, blessedly, the new calm has not excised his sense of humour. He may have "ripped up the carpet and moved every table and chest of drawers" in his psyche, as he tells me later, but he's still the Farreller. If the years of clean living have been good for Colin the man they have coincided with a more difficult period for Colin the actor, however.
During the throes of his hedonistic hellraising, he was one of the hottest properties in Hollywood, scoring a string of notable hits, but his last few films have mostly flopped, with his own performances enduring critical maulings. His performance in television series True Detective earned admittedly glowing reviews but there has been a niggling sense that he had yet to recapture his mojo as a leading man on the silver screen.
The Lobster might be about to change all that. A drama-comedy set in a dystopian future where loners are forced to pair up as a matter of life-and-death, the film won the Jury Prize in Cannes and has thus far scored 'universal acclaim' on Rotten Tomatoes. It may see the fulfilment of film critic Joe Griffin's prophecy that Farrell would emerge as a versatile character actor in middle age. At its heart, The Lobster is a satire about dating mores and how constricted choice can ultimately benefit us, and for Farrell, who once cut a deep and wide swathe through the beauties of Hollywood, this central theme resonated.
The sweetshop was open and I could just take whatever my belly desired. Through that I learned that you have to please yourself, and look out for yourself, because nobody is going to tell you to stop. There is something about the choice we have as human beings that we don't utilise to the best of our ability sometimes. We have a lot more choice and power than we think. For myself, I've found that there's a reluctance to accept responsibility, because in doing that you accept ownership of the problems of loneliness.
His last real girlfriend was his Ondine co-star Alicja Bachleda-Curus, who is also the mother of his second son, Henry, born in He could be forgiven for feeling somewhat jaded of romance. Emma Forrest, a writer whom he dated in , wrote a novel with a thinly veiled version of him written into it, and, of course, the infamous sex tape with Playboy model Nicole Narain spurred a multi-million dollar lawsuit but was leaked anyway.
All that is water under the bridge now. He's not lonely these days, he says - he sees his two sons every day - but navigating life as a single man pushing 40 even one with Farrell's celebrity , brings its own tradeoffs.
Of course sex addiction is real. There are chemicals that flow through the brain in a moment's sexual dalliance that are similar to those that appear when you take a substance. Anything that takes you away from your emotional and psychological self and gives you a hit, you can become addicted to.
In the film, the men get their hands held inside a toaster if they indulge in onanism, but Farrell has a better, and more interesting, solution: It's not an amazing path to explore with regard to a cultivation of a depth of honesty. I hear and understand the idea of keeping the sexual beast chained up in the cellar, but my thing would be go down, open the cellar door, pull up a chair, sit in front of the beast and get to know the beast and ask him what his true purpose is. I hike, I bring the kids to school and I go to the movies.
It's no big deal. You're a father of two and you're 40 years of age. It would be tragic if I were behaving otherwise. He sees old acquaintances who never hung up their dancing shoes and thinks there but for the grace of god.
For me the path was intensely trod upon and short-lived. That is appealing for a minute. But then, you know, you do the trick so many times you become the trick.