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Far away Colin Farrell missed his kids while filming epic new series in the Arctic Ocean

"We all went through whatever we went through individually, missing our children, our lovers, our wives or husbands, because we had no communication, no email."

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Colin Farrell holding his son while on the set of Total Recall

Colin Farrell holding his son while on the set of Total Recall

Colin Farrell holding his son while on the set of Total Recall

Colin Farrell has said he found it "really hard" to have no contact with his sons while he was filming his epic new TV series in the bitingly cold conditions of the Arctic Ocean.

The actor is almost unrecognisable on screen after bulking up to play the role of harpooner Henry Drax in The North Water, a five-part BBC series based on Ian McGuire's 2016 novel set in the 1850s.

The dad of two, originally from Castleknock in Dublin, was cut off from modern communication during the month-long stint on location on the Svalbard Archipelago, just a few hundred miles from the North Pole.

"None of us had been up to that part of the world before, we were all seeing it with child's eyes," he said.

"We all went through whatever we went through individually, missing our children, our lovers, our wives or husbands, because we had no communication, no email.

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Colin Farrell as Henry Drax in The North Water

Colin Farrell as Henry Drax in The North Water

Colin Farrell as Henry Drax in The North Water

"It's only three or four weeks but three or four weeks in a world in which we're so used to having such accessibility at our fingertips.

"I found it really hard not to be able to be in contact with my guys, but it certainly created a bond between us all."

The North Water follows his character, who is described as a "brutal force of nature", on a whaling expedition from Hull to the Arctic.

Line of Duty's Stephen Graham stars as Captain Brownlee while Jack O'Connell plays an army surgeon who keeps his recent court-martial secret from his shipmates.

Out in the Arctic wilderness, Colin Farrell had an acute sense of his own mortality.

"I did feel that death was just around the corner at any given time, that we were just one mistake away from someone falling into the Arctic Sea and either very quickly getting hypothermia or sinking under the weight of the waterlogged costume.

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Colin Farrell missed his family on Arctic shoot.

Colin Farrell missed his family on Arctic shoot.

Colin Farrell missed his family on Arctic shoot.

"There were also polar bears around, that are beautiful and elegant and majestic but also apex predators.

"It was a very profound experience for us all to share."

Colin describes his whaler character as Darwinian and someone who believes in the survival of the fittest.

"More than any character that I've ever played he is a character that lives without compunction. He has no apology for anything that he says, does or feels.

"It's an extraordinary character to have the opportunity to play."

The raw experience of working in the beautiful but hostile surroundings gave extraordinary realism to the scenes.

"Usually they would shoot this film in a tank," said the Dublin actor.

"You might go out on to the Irish Sea, or maybe off the coast of England or Scotland, a little bit towards the North Sea, and you'd do a week or two out there and get grand vistas, but Andrew [Haigh] insisted that we went up there, up to the 82nd parallel."

The director was determined to bring the brutal beauty of the polar environment to the screen.

"I knew I wanted to shoot it in the real environment. I wanted us to feel the biting wind, the bitter cold.

"We were up to 81 degrees north, 24 hours away from land at some points, locked in the sea ice. I wanted to capture that fear that comes from being so far from civilization," said Haigh.

Colin also got to sail overnight with Arctic sailors on the old-school ship called the Activ, called The Volunteer, in the series.

"Hanging out with Jonas, the captain of the Activ, and his crew, Guillaume, Andreas, and Martin, all of them, they were extraordinary," he said.

"You pick up things by symbiosis, by being close. And the environment did so much, it instantly created a sense of tension and pressure."

After he returned from the voyage, actor Jack O'Connell said the ship's captain was a fan of Colin.

"We were all up for it, but I think the captain just wanted to be friends with Colin over all of us.

"That's fair enough, isn't it? He's a cool guy."

The North Water will be shown on BBC Two at 9.30pm on Friday.

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