Colin Farrell was afraid to ‘tempt fate’ by staying up to hear Oscar nominations
From Ballykissangel all the way to Oscar magnet The Banshees of Inisherin, Best Actor hopeful Colin Farrell tells Esther McCarthy how he’s savouring his awards season success and still feels the pull of home
He’s one of the many nominees in this year’s feel-good ‘Irish Oscars’, where an abundance of talent saw Ireland get a record-smashing 14 nominations.
But Colin Farrell has told how he was reluctant to tempt fate by getting up in the middle of the night in his LA home to see if he’d been nominated — before sheer excitement got the better of him.
He ended up being surrounded by family and friends — including his Banshees of Inisherin co-star Kerry Condon — as the Irish-set comedy-drama scooped nine nominations.
“I got a text from Kerry that day saying, ‘What are you doing? Are you going to watch it live?’” he recalls, chatting exclusively toMagazine+ about an extraordinary year for the Irish film, via Zoom.
“My sister (Claudine) had already said a few months ago, ‘Will we watch them live and see what happens?’ And I said, ‘No, that’s just tempting fate. We’ll just go to bed and if we get a call, we get a call.’”
However, Colin started to change his mind as his performance as Pádraic — a man left bereft when his friend Colm (fellow Oscar nominee Brendan Gleeson) wants to abruptly end their friendship —gathered momentum.
“By the time it came to a week before it, it seemed dangerously apparent that it went from ‘possibility’, shall we say, to ‘probability’,” he says cautiously, “just with everything that was being spoken of.
“So I said to Claudine, I said, ‘F**k it. Come on, we’ll stay up.’ I said it to my other sister Catherine — Catherine said, ‘I’ll be over’, then Claudine’s husband, Mark.
“I knew that Henry, my youngest (13), was going to be with me. I said to Henry, ‘Do you want me to wake you up?’ And he was like, ‘Duh — what do you think, Dad? Of course I want you to wake me up!’”
Kerry, who lives in the same LA neighbourhood as her co-star and friend, joined them for tea and chocolate as the nominations were announced live at 5.30am local time.
“It was so nice. I don’t know — the best way to deal with it seems to be just to engage with it and try and treat it with as much light as possible, and as much fun.”
Colin Farrell was just a 13-year-old boy when he watched TV in his Dublin home as My Left Foot made Irish movie history.
Jim Sheridan’s moving and funny film, about Christy Brown’s determination to become an artist using the only piece of his body he had control over, received multiple nominations and won Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress Oscars for Daniel Day-Lewis and Brenda Fricker.
It is widely regarded as a time when the Irish movie industry showed the green shoots of a surge in success, culminating in the 14 nominations this year’s ceremony.
“I remember seeing Daniel get up and win the award that time,” Colin says. “I remember Brenda’s beautiful and deeply humble speech, talking about anyone who’s had as many kids as mother Brown had had deserves one of these, and her Oscar in her hand.
“I watched the Oscars all my life and I think before I even thought of being an actor, I wondered what it’d be like to have that experience, you know? So winning isn’t the name of the game, (it’s) just to be there.”
Though he is no stranger to the Academy Awards stage, this is the first time he has been nominated.
“I introduced U2 one year when they were performing The Hands That Built America from The Gangs of New York. Another year, I introduced Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, when they were singing Falling Slowly from Once.”
The 46-year-old is thrilled that The Banshees of Inisherin — which he filmed on Achill and Inishmore islands in the summer of 2021 with writer-director Martin McDonagh — and his fellow cast and crew got so many nods.
It means there is, he says, a sense of celebration for everyone involved — including the communities who welcomed the cast and crew, and supported the film.
“I don’t know what they’ll do this year, but one of my clearest memories is just watching all the films get their bit and the host talking about the different films. So the idea of being part of The Banshees of Inisherin and that film getting mentioned…
“Don’t get me wrong, it’ll be a trip to hear my name and stuff whenever that happens as a nominee, but the idea of being part of the film and seeing The Banshees, it meant a lot to us working on this.
“It was a really extraordinary summer that we had together. The idea that we’ll be there on that world stage, and Inishmore will come up and Jenny the donkey will come up, and I’ll see Sheila Flitton (the 90-year-old actress who plays mysterious local woman Mrs McCormick) up there. I’m not even joking you, it’s so humbling and exciting. It really is.”
Already, Colin has been an entertaining contributor to awards season, including a hilarious and heartfelt Golden Globes speech in which he expressed his love for co-star Brendan Gleeson, playfully scolded co-star Barry Keoghan for eating his Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, and thanked Banshees’ four-legged star Jenny the donkey, before adding that she said “F**k the film business” and was taking early retirement.
But it was a tender moment when he jumped up to offer his arm to help comedy legend Jennifer Coolidge up the stairs that most resonated. Coolidge, who had made a hilarious speech earlier in the night, won a Golden Globe for her role in The White Lotus.
“It was a cheap opportunity to get close to her,” laughs the chivalrous Dubliner, who famously got his big break in TV series Ballykissangel.
“I’d never met her but she’d already talked about her footwear and being slide-y. She had literally been up on stage talking about the awkwardness of being in the dress with the footwear.
“So I was watching her come up to the stage and I was going, ‘Somebody’s going to help her, somebody’s going to offer an arm. Somebody’s gonna offer an arm. Nobody’s offering an arm! There’s an arm.’ And that was it. I’m just a big fan of hers. She’s wonderful. She’s gorgeous. Her speech both times she got up on the stage that night lifted the room.”
It’s been a remarkable and record-thumping year for the Irish at the Oscars, which takes place in Los Angeles on March 12.
As well as Banshees’ nine nominations, the much-loved Irish-language drama An Cailín Ciúin, about a young girl who experiences a memorable summer in 1980s Ireland, got a Best International Feature nomination in a highly competitive category.
Maynooth’s finest Paul Mescal joins Colin in the Best Actor shortlist for his role in the moving Scottish movie Aftersun.
Short film An Irish Goodbye has also landed a nomination, while Tallaght man Richard Baneham was nominated for his visual-effects work on Avatar: The Way of Water. And Dubliner Jonathan Redmond got the nod for his editing work on Elvis.
It’s led to this year’s Oscars being dubbed the ‘Italia ’90’ of our movie industry as a small country performs hugely on the world stage.
Dad-of-two Colin is delighted to be a part of it — and is thrilled that it’s causing a positive buzz in his home country.
“That’s the best part of it. Honest to God, that’s the best part,” he beams.
“To think that any kind of a size or lump of people at home are getting a bit of a thrill out of this is f***ing so cool.
“Because I feel, you know, it’s strange... the further along I get in life and the longer I’m living elsewhere, in a strange way the closer I feel to home and the more peaceful I feel when I get home. So it’s been lovely to hear that.”
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