I just adore man that lit­tle

When you’re told your child will never walk, pain takes on a whole new mean­ing

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - COVER STORY - COLIN FAR­RELL TALKS TO PA­TRI­CIA DANA­HER

Six years on from be­com­ing sober and sav­ing his Hol­ly­wood ca­reer from slip­ping down the drain, to­day Colin Far­rell is im­mensely re­lieved that the stage of his life he calls ‘ the ex­treme phase’, is over. Th­ese days, the ac­tor’s ob­ses­sions are his two sons and his healthy life­style — and he gives con­stant thanks that father­hood has given him dif­fer­ent, and more whole­some, ap­petites.

He’s been sin­gle for quite some time now, with not even ru­mours of the usual celebrity hook-ups do­ing the rounds. He turns 37 in May and, with the pas­sage of time, Colin is start­ing to look a lot more se­ri­ous and, God for­bid, ma­ture. Look­ing back over the past two decades, he now ad­mits he might never had gone into the act­ing pro­fes­sion if he knew at 17 what he knows now.

‘Re­mov­ing al­co­hol from your life does al­low you to look at stuff that it was cov­er­ing up. If I had the level of health I have in my life now when I was 17, I don’t think I would have be­come an ac­tor,’ he says, in all se­ri­ous­ness. ‘I love sto­ries and I love film, but I wasn’t brought up in an artis­tic house. Maybe the rea­sons I got in­volved in this pro­fes­sion are cloaked in in­tel­lec­tu­al­ism.

‘I wanted to be the cen­tre of at­ten­tion and I wanted to fig­ure out my emo­tional life and it gave me an op­por­tu­nity to do that. I grew up in a house where emo­tions weren’t really spo­ken, so act­ing did of­fer a con­tainer for that. But a lot of why I be­came an ac­tor was to do with want­ing to be pop­u­lar and wanted and needed and all that s**t.’

Back home in LA now, af­ter shoot­ing in New York for five months, Colin is look­ing very fit. Yoga has be­come a pas­sion and has given him a lean and toned physique, as well as men­tal calm­ness. He says he’s en­joy­ing act­ing more since he stopped drink­ing and that, although he shows up at the Bev­erly Hil­ton with an en­tourage, he iden­ti­fies with celebrity less and less, de­spite its perks.

‘ The idea of celebrity is so fickle and means so lit­tle. On a prac­ti­cal level, I have ex­pe­ri­enced fame and celebrity in con­junc­tion with earn­ing cer­tain amounts of money where I can take care of both my boys, par­tic­u­larly James [ his older son, whose mother is US model Kim Bor­de­nave, suf­fers from the rare neu­ro­ge­netic dis­or­der An­gel­man syn­drome].

‘I could put my grand­par­ents in a really nice home when they were headed to­wards the end of their lives and make sure they were taken care of. That’s what my ex­pe­ri­ence of fame and celebrity led to. Those are the good things. The oth­ers things are built on a sys­tem of fal­lacy, of an il­lu­sion and when you ex­pe­ri­ence it, you get to can­cel the il­lu­sion that it will make you happy.

‘Don’t get me wrong,’ he clar­i­fies. ‘While it can bring great things, I’m just rail­ing against the idea of iden­ti­fy­ing with celebrity too much. I just don’t.’

It’s al­most like a mantra with him, but father­hood seems to be the gift that keeps on giv­ing. Although he has about four months off a year and he’s paid in the re­gion of US$10m per movie, Colin says he would like to work even less so he can spend even more time with his two sons, James and Henry [three, by the Pol­ish ac­tress Alicja Bach­leda- Cu­rus, whom he met on the set of On­dine]. ‘ By the time I’m 45, I don’t want to be do­ing two or three films a year. I really don’t have the in­ter­est. I’d much pre­fer to be at home with my kids. I’m not at that stage yet but hopefully as time passes...

‘I find it harder and harder to leave the kids be­cause I miss them so much. They visit me and we’re con­stantly try­ing to fig­ure it out, but the hours are hel­la­cious and the work is quite tire­some. I like act­ing more than I used to, but ide­ally I’d like to work less ss so that I can be at home with the boys.’

De­spite his leg­endary hell­rais­ing, wom­an­nis­ing past, Colin has been sin­gle for some e time, so the ques­tion of in­tro­duc­ing new girll­friends to his sons does not arise. When I ask k what is hap­pen­ing on the dat­ing front, he tells ls me frankly, ‘Nil. Nada. Noth­ing. I don’t have e any women to in­tro­duce them to. I’m not even n jok­ing. I did, for a long time, but not now. I’m m glad I knocked the chaos and all the other er stuff on the head and the ampl itude e of the first stage when I ar­rived in Amer­ica. a. If I look at it like a chart, it’s been pretty y f*****g ex­treme over the years and it doesn’t ’t seem to be now.

‘It’s weird,’ he muses. ‘I could have a film m that does a nickel at the box of­fice or I could d win an Os­car and yet some­how in­side me [I don’t feel like I want] to ever do this again. n. I’m so glad that that chap­ter is over be­cause e — although it was a lot of fun — it was also a lot of chaos and I feel more grounded now.’

His older son, James, will turn nine this year and con­tin­ues to re­quire very in­tense on­go­ing care and phys­i­cal ther­apy. De­spite the chal­lenges, it’s clear that the child’s pres­ence in Colin’s life has been a wholly pos­i­tive one. ‘James is one of the two great­est things that’s ever hap­pened to me by a long shot. When your child is born with a cer­tain level of ad­ver­sity that’s dif­fer­ent from the

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