With The Spirits of the Island, the Irish actor returns to star with Brendan Gleeson for Martin McDonagh as he did in the days of In Bruges, the film that gave him two Golden Globes. Now he is among the favorites for the Oscar for best actor. Here are all his unforgettable characters.
Colin Farrell returns to the movies with The Spirits of the Island (in theaters Thursday 2). The acclaimed dark comedy sees him, once again, starring with Brendan Gleeson under the direction of Martin McDonagh as he did in the days of In Bruges (2008), the film that earned him the first of two Golden Globes. The Banshees of Inisherin, that was the original title, earned him an Oscar nomination. Now, the Dubliner star, born in 1976, is among the favorites in the top five for best actor. It has been a blazing career for Farrell, launched by Joel Schumacher, who at only 25 years of age established him among Hollywood's most sought-after actors. The star is back in front of McDonagh's camera a decade after 7 Psychopaths.
The Banshees of Inisherin (the "banshees" are mythical figures in Irish folklore) is competing at the 2023 Oscars with nine weighty nominations (including best picture, director and original screenplay). That's a record for The Emerald Isle. The film is also among the bookmakers' favorites for the main statuette. Set in the fictional Inisherin (which McDonagh places in the Aran Islands archipelago), the film tells of a broken friendship against the backdrop of the Irish Civil War. To mark the occasion, we offer a gallery of Colin Farrell's 10 most memorable roles.
Stu Shepard in Joel Schumacher's In the Line with the Assassin (2002)
A New York phone booth turns into a death trap for our protagonist. Larry Cohen originally pitched the script to Alfred Hitchcock, who was going to make it into an episode of his 1960s series, but the project skipped.
Captain Smith in Terrence Malick's The New World (2005)
The story, in live action, of Pocahontas: the Native American who falls in love with the dashing English adventurer played by Farrell. To prepare for the role, the actor read all seven Captain Smith books.
Sonny Crockett in Michael Mann's Miami Vice (2006)
To step into the role of the highly skilled drug agent for the master action-thriller, the actor and fellow actor Jamie Foxx observed the FBI's undercover operations from a safe distance. Praised for what he had learned from the experience, Farrell was invited to participate in an actual undercover operation (captured on video and shown on the DVD extra).
Ray in Martin McDonagh's In Bruges (2008)
A ruthless hitman paired with Brendan Gleeson, Farrell wears only one suit throughout the film (except for the flashback).
Syracuse in Neil Jordan's Ondine (2009)
Irish fisherman with a drinking problem behind him who, during some fishing trips, finds a woman imprisoned in his net. Farrell and colleague Alicja Bachleda dated while filming the movie and had a child a year later, shortly before breaking up.
Jerry in Craig Gillespie's Fright Night (2011)
In the sharp canines of the vampire next door, Farrell wanted to recite a monologue in Latin, to make his character more menacing. The monologue was cut but his language tutor was so fascinated by the actor's Latin that he quoted it in an academic paper.
Travers Goff in John Lee Hancock's Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
He is the troubled father of Mary Poppins author P. L. Travers (Emma Thompson). Saddened that he never met the main cast, the actor invited them to his home for a screening of the film.
David in Yiorgos Lanthimos's The Lobster (2015)
In Lanthimos' dystopian future, being single is forbidden: on pain of arrest. In order to work with the master of the Greek new wave, the actor accepted the symbolic fee of, only, 40 pounds.
Penguin in Matt Reeves' The Batman (2022)
The process that allowed the sex symbol actor to transform into the grotesque DC-branded villain required three and a half hours of make-up. It was the work of Oscar nominees Mike Marino and Naomi Donne. The unrecognizable Farrell decided to field test the Penguin's prosthetic makeup by ordering coffee at Starbucks.
Pádraic Súilleabháin in Martin McDonagh's The Spirits of the Island (2022)
Set in fictional Inisherin, the dark tragicomedy tells of a broken friendship against the backdrop of the Irish Civil War. The role of Brendan Gleeson's drinking buddy, aka Colm Doherty, earned him an Oscar nomination for best actor in a leading role. On set, Farrell has collected several incidents with animals. Jenny, the little donkey, kicked him, Colm's dog bit him, and a horse driving a wagon was flinging him down into the ocean.