Colin Farrell: The Oscar Nominee’s Best and Worst Roles
It’s a long road from Ballykissangel to Tinseltown – and Colin Farrell should know it.
The Dubliner, who has firmly established himself as the most celebrated Irish actor of his generation, has only picked up the second major accolade of his career when he bagged a Golden Globe for the role The Banshees by Inisherin (his first was a Golden Globe for In Bruges in 2009). The film also earned him the unofficial title of Most Famous Eyebrows in Film (how did he get her to do that thing? Answers on a postcard). Now, with an Oscar nomination under his belt, he might as well win the Oscar.
It’s been one hell of a journey for the Castleknock native, from humble beginnings in a cheesy small-town Ireland soap opera to starring alongside some of the world’s biggest movie stars. At least since his Hollywood debut in Joel Schumacher’s 2000 war drama tiger country, the 46-year-old has held his own in a variety of roles across different genres. From superhero villains to action blockbusters and quirky indie flicks to family-friendly Disney films, Farrell has demonstrated his versatility as well as some serious acting skills.
However, like any established actor worth his salt, there are probably a few roles he’d like to forget among the critically acclaimed ones. Below we take a look at Farrell’s best and worst roles.
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Colin Farrell’s Best Movies:
Minority Report (2002)
After wowing audiences (and apparently studio bosses too) with roles like tiger country and Hart’s war, that was the movie that made Colin Farrell a real movie star. Starring opposite Tom Cruise and directed by Steven Spielberg, Farrell thrived in the big-budget sci-fi thriller, playing a government agent who becomes involved in a futuristic storyline about “Precogs” – clairvoyant people – and a potentially nefarious cover-up goes. He made it too.
A classic in Irish film history, this crime thriller was probably Farrell’s first opportunity to show off his comedic skills. In the film, written by Mark O’Rowe, he plays the hapless petty criminal Lehiff: a constant thorn in the side of Colm Meaney’s Garda Detective who becomes involved in a botched kidnapping plot. He portrayed Lehiff with both an amusing rudeness and a pleasant sense of naivety – perhaps most memorable in that scene with the tea and the brown sauce. Damn delicious, man.
In Bruges (2008)
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There is a lot to say about the script In Bruges, but if you can’t possibly imagine anyone other than Farrell and Brendan Gleeson starring, know that it’s their performances that really enhanced Martin McDonagh’s debut film. It was also the start of a wonderful friendship and creative alliance between the trio, with Farrell playing “Dougal” for Gleeson’s straight husband with just the right amount of half-witted sincerity. Two Irish hitmen who went into hiding after a botch in ‘boring’ Belgian town: what could go wrong?
The Lobster (2015)
By 2015, he had proven that he could pull off the big blockbuster roles with confidence – phone booth, Miami Vice and gossip to name a few – but it seems Farrell is drawn to offbeat characters and stories. the lobster was his first collaboration with Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (followed shortly by the equally excellent Killing a Sacred Deer 2017), who plays David: a man who must find a partner and fall in love within 45 days or he will be turned into a lobster. Farrell excels in these black comedy roles and this is undoubtedly one of his best.
The North Water (2021)
Since then, there have been very few television roles on Farrell’s resume Ballykissangel; apart from cameos on the like scrubs and an appearance Sesame Streethis first major foray into television was in the second season of True detective to Vince Vaughn. But forget that: while it may not have had as high a profile as the HBO show, one of his strongest roles to date was in BBC-era miniseries The North Water. It’s not often that Farrell is played such a thoroughly unsympathetic character, but he really excelled as villainous thug Henry Drax, a member of a 19th-century arctic whaling expedition that went awry.
The Batman (2022)
Robert Pattinson may have caused the most excitement The Batman when he took on the role of the Caped Crusader, but to overlook Farrell’s contribution to Matt Reeves’ superhero reboot would be… well, criminal. Not only was Farrell physically unrecognizable as one of the most memorable villains in cinema—Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin—he made the character his own; It’s not an easy task to follow in Danny DeVito’s footsteps. Farrell’s Penguin was played with a subtlety, a wacky sense of humor, and an underlying menace that made him steal every scene he was in.
… and Colin Farrell’s worst movies:
See, he can’t really be blamed for taking on a role like Alexander at this point in his career. On paper, there was a lot to be said for Oliver Stone’s historical epic about Alexander the Great – not least the opportunity to work with the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Plummer and Angelina Jolie. What could possibly go wrong, he might have asked himself? Aside from the bad coloring work (never go blonde again, Colin), a bloated script, and a ridiculously long running time. The film was a certified flop, and it’s safe to say it’s not one of Farrell’s finest moments.
Total Recall (2012)
After making a decent fist of 1980s remakes MiamiVice and horror comedy Terrible nightyou can see why a reboot of Total recall might have liked Farrell. Unfortunately, the film — loosely based on the 1990 original, with some adjustments to setting and plot — lacked the charm and swagger of its predecessor. Granted, Farrell had big duties to fill, taking on the role of Douglas Quaid (a man plagued by ominous dreams of being a spy in a futuristic world) from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Coupled with a bombastic screenplay, however, it failed to excite critics and audiences alike.
Let’s attribute that to experience, shall we? To be fair, it’s Farrell’s turn daredevil The MCU renaissance was preceded by a good five years, although it dated back to Tobey Maguire’s massive success in Marvel’s first Spider-Man reboot: as early as 2003, there was a clear call for major movie stars to dip their toes in comic book adaptations. The Dubliner played Bullseye, one of several “villains” targeted by masked vigilante Daredevil, aka Ben Affleck. Though the film triumphed at the box office, it was panned flatly by critics – which hopefully means we’ll never have to see Colin Farrell in one of those hats again.
There was a lot to like about Neil Jordan’s atmospheric, modern tale about a fisherman (Farrell) who may or may not one day catch a mythological selkie (Polish actress Alicja Bachleda-Curuś) in his net – not least the charming fact that the both co-stars fell in love and had a child in real life, Henry. The most memorable part Ondine, however, wasn’t Farrell’s luscious locks, his ‘handsome villain’ trope, or even the sheer Oirishness of it all; It was Farrell’s tantalizing rendition of a Cork accent we can’t forget.
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