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Colin Farrell Dials Success

Wily Irish everyguy Colin Farrell finds his big personality caught in uncomfortably tight quarters in Phone Booth

Colin Farrell is finally making good on his promise. Two years ago, the 26-year-old actor burst out of nowhere(i.e., Ireland) in the blistering boot-camp drama Tigerland. Before you could say “Bless me lucky stars,” he was being touted as thenext big thing, costarring with Bruce Willis in Hart’s War and Tom Cruise in Minority Report. But it’s in the riveting thrillerPhone Booth (opening November 15) that Farrell delivers the goods, as a sleazeball publicist who’s forced to face down his personalfailings while being held hostage by a mad sniper in–you guessed it–a telephone booth. Now if he could just do something about thatpotty mouth.

Spin: Phone Booth was shot to look like it’s taking place in real time. How did you approach such an unusual project?

Farrell: More than anything, I think [director] Joel [Schumacher] approached it as a theater piece. And I approached it as someone who washired by Joel. We rehearsed for two weeks and then shot it in [sequence], four cameras on the go at all times, which never fuckin’happens on films.

Were you discouraged by reports that other A-list actors had fallen out of the project?

Jim Carrey was nearly going to do it, so it was an opportunity I didn’t think twice about. This fuckin’ script has been goingaround for years. It was seen as a risky gig, but I had nothing to protect. I had no, you know, tangible career. I didn’t exactlycome off a hundred-million-dollar film to do it, you know?

Your character in the film is that lowest of all life-forms–the publicist. Was your performance based on anyone in particular?

No, but I’ve met enough people in my life, enough fast talkers and enough assholes, to pattern the material. We wanted this guy tohave a few years behind him in the business so he could have accumulated the mental lies and bad debt. So we gave him the flashiestfuckin’ suit, no tie, open collar. He might not be suave with his fuckin’ cherry soubrette shirt, but he certainly thinks he is.

You’ve shown plenty of skill with a cigarette in your films. Do you have a favorite smoking movie of all time?

Oh, jeez. Anything from Casablanca to The Maltese Falcon, you know? When Bogie took a puff (takes a deep drag from his owncigarette), he’d pull it in sharply, and you knew he was lovin’ it. Midnight Run is a good smoking movie, too. With De Niro,cigarettes are a nervous prop–he’s just fuckin’ bangin’ out Marlboro reds all fuckin’ day.

You’ve got three starring roles–in The Recruit, Daredevil, and S.W.A.T.–already lined up for next year. How have your mates backin Ireland handled your success?

They find it ridiculous. They look at my picture and go, “Haw, look at you–you should be on the cover of Gay Ireland.”