Twentieth Century Fox held a press junket promoting “Daredevil” this past weekend. All the principal actors were on hand to do round-table interviews with the press. CBR News/Comics2Film is pleased to present this transcript of this interview with Colin Farrell, who plays Bullseye in the movie.
Warning: Adult language and some spoilers in the following.
Farrell started off talking about the anticipation for a big opening for the movie:
Colin Farrell: You’d be so aware of being given three years of these opportunities and given inordinate amounts of money, which I’ve never understood but I’ve taken gladly of course to do these films. It’s nice to actually be in one. Because I get paid so much money you want the people that pay me to get their money back so it could be nice to be in something that does well.
Q: Did you actually shave your head?
CF: I did. I shaved yeah. Which is fine. I had my first first skin-head when I was about twelve, thirteen. I’ve had skin-heads loads of times.
CF: Sometimes I get urges and I always just do them. And I’ve had urges in my life, “I think I’ll get my head shaved today,” and I’ve just gone in and just come out bald and went home and, “Aaah!…what did you do?”
Q: Do you like it that way?
I like having a skin-head, yeah. But then it gets very boring and you’ve gotta go through the shit-wig stage of your hair growing back.
Q: Do you shave your body as well?
CF: I dunno, does it get you off? Not for me man, look it. Bald as a cue. No waxing. No shaving. Never. I very rarely shave my face. I’m not really into personal grooming, to be honest with you.
Q: Usually you’re asked to do an American accent but you get to keep your Irish accent in this movie.
CF: It was nice. That was Mark Steven Johnson’s idea. He said to me, because it was never specified in the comic book where Poindexter/Bullseye was from, so he said, “You can do it in the Irish accent,’ and I was like, ‘Fuck yeah, man. Definitely.’
I mean I even did a stronger Dublin accent than what I have. (with heavy accent) “Did all the Bullseye and all that shite, you know.” It was fun to play.
And I had no dialect coach whispering in my ear between takes, that bastard! Sick of ’em!
Q: How was it working with Ben Affleck?
CF: It was great! I didn’t get to do too much work with him. A lot of the work we did, we were on separate sets.
The takes were, you know: grab the thing. Go up and kick the glass. Cut. Do this. Pretend to catch the glass. Cut. It was just such snippets and he was never there for any of it. He was off doing his thing.
There were certain bits, like when we were choking each other, we were there together. When I hit him with the candelabra thing he was there and we end up with a dialog with the Kingpin, Fisk being the Kingpin, he was there for that and I was there for him for that.
But no we didn’t do too much work together.
Q: How fun is that, messing up Ben Affleck’s face?
CF: I didn’t derive much pleasure from it, to be honest with you. I didn’t really get the chance to mess it up. All make-believe, man. But a lovely fella. Lovely, lovely fella, that guy. Smart as a whip.
Q: In this movie you’re playing an unrelentingly bad villain. Did you work on finding the human side of the villain?
CF: Not this time. I mean I’m a great man for trying to find shades in characters, different layers and all that kind of bullshit that actors talk about, I’m a great man for that, but this time it was a chance for me to just check my sanity in at the door and just have a field day. Not worry about a dead father or a prisoner of war camp or finding out who the killer is. Not worrying about anything past or future. Just worrying about being exactly in the now and just dealing with that.
Bullseye was great. He was so black and white. There were no shades of gray. He was just an insane assassin and derived so much pleasure from his work as a killer.
He’s like a cat with a ball of thread. In the fight with Elektra, that’s what I mean. He’s just on top of the world when he’s into having a fight with Elektra and he’s just toying with her like she’s a piece of thread.
Q: Did you ever feel like you were in danger of going over the top?
CF: Absolutely. I thought I was doing it every day and I saw the film and I’m like, “Oh my God, I’m ridiculous.” But you do the work and you do the best you can and try and hope that somebody will think it’s OK.
But absolutely. You know Mark never really reigned me in and he had great ideas for the character and he was amazing to work with and a constant inspiration so I put all my trust in him, as the writer of the part, as a Daredevil fan from eight years. Eight years old he was, so he’s known about this comic book and theses characters for so long, for nearly all his life. So I just put all my trust in him and hope that he would tell me when I wasn’t doing good and when I was.
Q: How good a shot are you with the dart?
CF: I’m not bad. I’m not bad. I play some darts. I wouldn’t be world championship material. I wouldn’t be as good as Bullseye either. I’m all right. I can throw the odd dart.
I got fuckin’ three bullseyes the night before I started. Which I’ve never got and I’ll never get again. The director and his wife and a couple of mates of mine, we went down to the King’s Head in Santa Monica where we shot that pub scene, we were shooting that pub scene the next day. We had a few pints and we were playing some darts and I fuckin’ shot three bullseyes and we said, “Maybe that’s some good karma.” I don’t know.
Q: When you were a kid, did you ever pretend to play a superhero?
CF: I think I had a Spider-Man costume, if I remember correctly, and some Spider-Man figures.
I was a fan of Superman, only because the films and the TV series. Not through the purity of the comic book.
Where I come from there’s not much of a comic book culture at all. There is a Forbidden Planet shop there, that sells all that stuff, but I never grew up with it.
I had never heard of Daredevil until I met Mark Steven Johnson.
Q: What was that Spider-Man costume like?
When I was a little kid I had one of those yucks you buy for $5.99, the fuckin’ thing and it looks all…it doesn’t fit and your three fingers are wrong and it doesn’t really look like a Sam Raimi gig.
Q: Will there be a Bullseye action figure?
CF: I think so. They’d better. It’s the only reason I did the film now. It would be funny, man. You take it with a piece of salt.
An action figure where I could actually play with myself, put my hand down my pants, you know.
Q: Would you ever want to play other superheroes and get into costume?
CF: I don’t know what I’d like to play. You read scripts and it’s not so much about the idea of getting…costumes…ask Ben. That costume got old. Having to get into that red leather suit. It’s hot and it gets frustrating after a while.
I’d do it if a script was good enough. Batman’s a pretty cool character, in the films and I’ve always enjoyed X-Men. I’ve always enjoyed those movies.
As a cartoon character, Batman, and at the TV show even, with Adam West, I used to love the camp a lot. I used to watch that as a child. The Batman character is always interesting, Bruce Wayne and his background and all that kind of stuff.
Again, the fun thing about this one is I didn’t have to worry about any back story. That all went on the shoulders of Jennifer [Garner] and Ben, having lost people in their lives. Trying to find their place in the world, in respect to how they fit into the world and society around them. So I just got to have a field day with this one.
But maybe. Who knows, man? Never say never.
Q: You and Jennifer don’t have a love scene, but what about the fight scenes? Is it comparable?
CF: It’s not something I’m partial to, to be honest. I’ve never done it before. But I’ll tell you one thing, she’s well able for it. She’s well able for it. She is as fit as a fiddle and strong as an ox.
Q: Some of your fight with Elektra was cut. Why was that?
CF: When I grabbed her by the neck, at the end, and before I stick her own sai in her stomach, I give her a little kiss and I nibbled on her lower lip.
But we did about fifteen takes and she came into work the next day like something from an African tribe. She was like, “You bit me too hard yesterday,” and I’m like, “Fuck. Sorry, man.”
And it was cut because I think one of the problems the censors had, and I don’t know where they get their fuckin’ rules from, was that that scene in particular, because it’s a guy beating up a girl, it was cut. So they cut out the lip biting and once when I slam her head on the thing.
So what are you left with? Me hitting her in the face, hitting her in the arm, kicking her in the stomach. I mean, how do they logicalize, “It’s OK what he’s doing now, but if he bites her lip and kisses her while he’s stabbing her, that’s bad!”
But yeah, there were a couple of beats that Mark had to take out, which is unfortunate just to not have it in its entirety.
Q: How did you control your biting to make sure you weren’t hurting her?
CF: I actually didn’t do a great job. I mean, I didn’t bite her. I just nibbled on her lip and you kind of want to make it look real as well, so I don’t know if I did it too much.
Q: How do you account for all of the sudden, intense media interest you’re getting with your movies and with Britney Spears?
CF: I’ve been so busy doing the press for “The Recruit,” shooting “S.W.A.T.” and doing this now, I’ve been so busy. I haven’t really given it much thought, to be honest. You just laugh and take it with a pinch of salt.
I live in the real world. I know when you’re doing films and you’re gonna be in movies and at premieres and all that kind of stuff and you’re in Hollywood, of course there’s gonna be photographs taken. Of course there’s gonna be speculation. I mean I’m not a fuckin’ idiot, you know? So it happens, and it’s happened in the last week more than ever before and my mates and my family are just having a laugh at it.
I’m getting calls from home going, “Man, you’re on the front of this. Jesus Christ everyone’s gone fuckin’ mad! There’s people outside your house in Dublin. It’s fuckin’ crazy back here.” They’re my mates calling me from home. I just laugh it off.
Q: Do you want to clear up any rumors?
CF: Absolutely not.
Q: You have to know that when you show up with Britney Spears, America’s pop princess, you’re going to freak everyone out. Was that planned?
Not really, because I’m such a fuckin’ idiot, I don’t think of the next step. I mean people will go, “Yeah, you little liar. You fuckin’ planned that,” and I fuckin’ didn’t.
I was sitting in a hotel lobby with twenty of my family and friends and her and a few of her friends, and we’re all having drinks and then there’s five stretch limos outside and we pack into them and everything’s dandy. She’s over in the corner with her friends and talking to my mother or whatever and everything’s fine. And then we go there and as soon as I stepped out of the limo I thought, Of course!” But I hadn’t given it a second fuckin’ thought. But as soon as I stepped out I thought, “Oh yeah, OK,’ and then I went, “shit,” and I said to her, “We’re asking for fucking trouble here,’ and she said, “I know.”
But we’re not dating. She’s a sweet, sweet girl. Sweet girl but there’s nothing going on.
Q: How did you meet her?
I’ve been doing a gig now and she came out to the set, a couple of weeks ago. She came out with her brother and Big Rob, her bodyguard. It wasn’t exactly an intimate date. She came out to the set, because she’s acting now. She came out to have a look and just see what’s going on and watch a few scenes. She met everyone on the crew and me and some of the other actors.
Q: What’s the project you’re working on that she came out to visit?
Q: What do you think about the strong opening for “The Recruit?”
CF: As I said, I’ve been so lucky to have the ride I’ve had in the last three years. I really have. I’m fairly much of a realist myself. I’m aware that I’m paid all this money to do these gigs. I do an eighty-million dollar film with Bruce [Willis] and it doesn’t do well and you go, “Jesus. I’d better get something that does well,” and if “The Recruit” does good I’m fuckin’ chuffed. I’m chuffed and I’m chuffed for Al [Pacino] and I’m chuffed for Roger Donaldson and Bridget Moynahan.
It’s a nice feeling. Doesn’t make me think my shit doesn’t stink. It doesn’t make me think I’m a better man. It’s nothing like that but it’s a nice feeling. You work your ass off and I’ve worked my buttocks off. I’ve been overpaid for it, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve worked buttocks off for three years, for six years, and it’s nice to be in a film that finally does some business at the box office.
Q: Does it seem like the roles are coming in big time now?
CF: No. I mean that’s the bizarre thing about what’s happened for me. They have been since “Tigerland.” That’s the bizarre thing about my trajectory. I try not to think about it because there is no particular science or no particular reason with which I can find what has happened to me has happened. So I try not to think about it and just do it, you know?
Q: Any word on the Oliver Stone, “Alexander the Great” movie?
CF: Don’t know, man, but I’m there if it happens. I am there if it happens.
Oliver wrote a phenomenal, fuckin’ script. It’s just about amazing, amazing things. Everything’s in it. There’s greed. There’s jealousy. There’s love. There’s pain. There’s hope. There’s desperation. There’s pride. There’s friendship. There’s betrayal. It’s an amazing, amazing story. There’s so much in it. It’s so dense it nearly reads like bad fiction and these are historical figures.
Q: How does Alexander’s personal life read?
CF: It’s kind of tragic. He gets to a stage where he doesn’t know who to trust. He doesn’t know who’s on his side. He doesn’t know if he’s doing the right thing. He’s just obsessed with the idea of destiny and the he was born to do these things, to be at this level of greatness, to lead his people to this place. It all gets very convoluted towards the end, and quite messy.
I don’t know as much as if I ever got to do it as I will know. Because there’ll be a lot of research and a lot of work that’ll have to go into it.
Obviously bi-sexual, which wasn’t even an issue back then. There was no term for bi-sexual, it was just the way society was. People made love to men, women and it was only later on that you had to pick one side of the fence.
It’s amazing. Oliver wrote an amazing, amazing script.
Q: Does he treat that subject fairly?
CF: I think he treats it fairly by actually not putting a huge light over it. In those days it wasn’t a big deal.
Philip of Macedon had a wife and Alexander’s mother in Olympia, and he kept eunuchs and he kept women and boys. Philip of Macedon, the king, was making love to everyone and in that day it was just a normal thing. So yes, it’s touched on, but it’s so much more about Alexander’s personal journey and the journey of his people through this time.
Q: In contrast to the smaller films you’ve done, how does the prospect of doing something that’s going to be on an epic scale compare?
CF: It’s huge.
Between “Daredevil” and starting “S.W.A.T.” I went home and I did a film which I’m sure none of you have heard of called “Intermission.” You wouldn’t have heard of it because it’s like a three million dollar Irish picture. I believe it turned out well. I think it’s going to Cannes. So I did that.
After “S.W.A.T.” I’m going to go do “A Home at the End of the World,” which is a Michael Cunningham novel, he adapted his own novel into a screenplay, wrote the most beautiful screenplay. Five characters, small film. Tom Hulce is producing. Michael Mayer from New York, theater director, is directing and I’ll do that next.
So I’m just trying to do that thing that a lot of actors talk about: mix it up. Do some big ones. Do some of the smaller, more intimate ones.
Alexander will be huge thing. The most attractive thing, apart from the story of Alexander of Macedonia and that time and doing that epic thing is to go in there and [work] with Oliver Stone for what probably will be a six month shoot, will be something I’m sure I’ll fuckin’ never forget. So I’m all for it.
Q: With that schedule, all the movies and the press that accompanies them, you’re going to be working non-stop. When do you say “no?”
CF: You say “no” when you find yourself looking at something you don’t want to do or don’t want to be a part of. I go to work. I do a film. The reason I’m there, the part I like is being on the set or reading the script before you get to the set. Being an actor. That’s what my job is.
This is all the peripheral shit that you don’t think about when you decide at sixteen, “I’m going to be an actor.” You don’t ever think you’re going to be sitting in a room with twenty people microphones all over your face. You don’t. You see Larry Holmes do that before a fuckin’ heavyweight fight, this shit. You don’t think about it when you’re going to be an actor.
But then you get the chances you get, as I’ve got, and you end up in America doing films and you learn very quickly that this is part of it. It’s not the fun part, it’s not the creative part, but it’s part of it. You get paid money to do your job and you have to sell the film and this is it.
So when do you say “no?” I have a lot of energy. I’m twenty-six and I love my job and I’m feeling my way as I go and I’m trying to do different things and that’s all I know.
Q: Are you going to move to America permanently?
CF: Not in a million years, man. Why should I?
Q: The sun and great weather in Hollywood.
CF: Fuck man, this sun depresses me. There’s too much of it. I need rain.
Q: So you never think about moving here?
CF: Not in a million years. I’ve been saying it for three years. Some day people will stop asking me that. I’ve been saying it for three years. For three years I’ve been going, “no,” and I’m lucky enough that I’ve skipped so many rungs on the ladder and I’m lucky I can come into town, do the work and then I can shoot off home. I have one residence, and I’ve had it for six years. It’s a small cottage in Dublin and that’s what I’m gonna do.
Q: Doesn’t all the traveling get to you?
Not really. I hate flying and I’m the worst flier in the world. I have a load of booze and a couple of pills and I don’t even know I’m on a plane and I deal with it. I sleep it off and then I go to work.