Dubliner still has the Christmas present Colin Farrell gave him during childhood cancer battle

Hollywood star’s kindness the inspiration behind 27-year-old’s new film about cancer journey

Colin Farrell visiting Craig in Crumlin Children's Hospital on Christmas Day, 2004

Colin Farrell poses with staff in Crumlin Children's Hospital in 2004

Craig in hospital with his mum and dad during his cancer treatment

Amy DonohoeIndependent.ie

A Dubliner has thanked Colin Farrell for the kindness he showed him one Christmas day when he was battling cancer as a child.

The Hollywood star and Oscar nominee visited Craig Farnan, from Swords, in Crumlin Children’s Hospital on December 25, 2004.

The 27-year-old, who “wanted to get into acting because of Colin Farrell”, is now producing a film called After the Bell Rings about his own journey with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

He was just 8 years old when he was diagnosed and his family “went through hell for two and a half years”.

“The reason I wanted to get into acting was because of Colin Farrell. He came into Crumlin Hospital on Christmas Day in 2004 with his sister,” Craig said.

“There was no media, no cameras, no nothing, just presents. They sat with me for an hour, and I still have the present he gave me; a bingo set.

“I got the measles and with chemotherapy, they thought I wasn’t going to make it through Christmas. But seeing Colin, I loved him. He raised my spirits.

“He asked me what I wanted to do, and I said a footballer by day and an actor like him at night. He’s the main reason I’m doing it.

“He sent me a video during Covid to check in. He’s a big part of my life and I go to see every film he’s in,” he added.

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    Craig’s emotional journey inspired the idea for the film, which focuses on the trauma cancer holds on both people who have beaten it, and those who are battling it now.

    “I was misdiagnosed twice. I remember bits and pieces. My family were incredible, they made me happy and were there for me whenever I was scared or sad,” he said.

    “But in reality, they were probably more scared and sadder than I was. They gave me endless amounts of Pokémon cards, played games with me, they put their lives on hold for me and made me feel safe.”

    It’s been 17 years since Craig got the all clear and he has since gone on to study acting. He decided to make the film as a “love letter” to his family after coming across some old photos.

    “We were moving house and I found photos of when I was younger and had cancer. One of them is of me and Colin too,” he said.

    “It was a traumatic time in our lives, but a little movie went through my head. I decided to create the film as a love letter to my family, with cancer as an underlying theme.

    “I wrote it based on Crumlin Hospital and my journey with cancer. It focuses on the nightmare of not being able to breathe. I think the film will be beautiful, hopefully.

    “Mainly, it’s to tell my family how much they mean to me. We never talk about it, but the stuff they went through seems like it’s made for a movie.

    “They never showed how scared they were. I remember asking my dad if I was dying, and he told me there was an 80pc chance of surviving, but in fact, it was the other way around.

    “The two doctors who saved my life are Dr Fin Breatnach and Dr Ethna Phelan and I’ll never forget them either.

    “I hope this film can help people like me to know it’s okay to be scared, and to know how important their family is to them and the fact they’d do anything for them.

    “That’s one thing I did, was sometimes take them for granted. No matter what, they put a smile on my face and I was never scared, and sometimes I forget that,” he added.

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