“I know what the important things are in life. I know that just because I pretend to be someone else for two hours on the silver screen doesn’t make me a better person than the next man. So, I mind all those things. Simple things.”—Colin Farrell
After a long time as Hollywood’s favorite bad boy—who occasionally might have gone too far—Colin Farrell has had a busy few years. The Irish actor has been rolling out film after film, including critically acclaimed fare by visionary directors such as The Lobster, The Beguiled, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. In between all that serious, heavy acting, Farrell has also been charming talk show audiences with anecdotes about childhood crushes on Marilyn Monroe—all while staying firmly on the wagon after losing many years to drug and alcohol addiction. Here are 24 entrancing facts about the reformed rebel that explain why he’s everyone’s favorite Irish export.
Colin Farrell Facts
24. No Thank You, Mr. Bond
Throughout the years Farrell has played a wide variety of parts but has also lost out on some choice roles that likely would’ve sent his career in a different direction. Among those roles is the lead in Collateral Damage, as one of the romantic leads in Best Picture winner Brokeback Mountain, and even James Bond! When Pierce Brosnan ended his run as the secret agent he recommended Farrell for the part—but Farrell quickly brushed aside the thought, as he believed the role should go to an unknown actor. I suppose he’s also a bit more rough-around-the-edges than the types who usually play the debonair spy.
23. Husband Number 8?
In the last years of her life, Farrell struck up a friendship with Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor that had romantic overtones. As he told Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show, the pair met after exchanging flowers. His courtship led to the pair meeting and embarking on “a year and a half or two years of what was a really cool… it feels like in my head—not her, I’m projecting – the last romantic relationship I had, which was never consummated…I just adored her… She was a spectacular, spectacular woman.” Farrell read a poem at Taylor’s funeral and still speaks of her fondly.
22. In the Zone
Ireland’s contribution to the boy-band craze of the 1990’s was called Boyzone, a group that went on to have 21 hit singles. Farrell was out dancing at a club—in leather pants and a rubber shirt, no less—when a recruiter approached him and asked him to come audition for the band, which was just starting out. He was rejected after a “shocking” (his description) performance of “Careless Whisper,” which was so bad that the judges asked him to sing it again for entertainment value.
After playing small parts in two films, Farrell’s first big acting role was in 1998 in an Irish soap opera called Ballykissangel (really). The long-running soap focused on an English priest working in a small Irish town, based on a real town by the name of Ballykissane. Farrell played a character named Danny Byrne and was featured in 18 episodes. He later told interviewers that being cast in the soap was “one of the f*****g greatest things that ever happened” to him.
20. Bronze Medal for Hotness
In a 2014 list that attempted to rank the most attractive Irishmen in Hollywood, Farrell came in at number 3—beat only by Michael Fassbender (rip-off, he wasn’t even born in Ireland) and Jamie Dornan (50 Shades of Dull). We call for a recount! If Farrell can’t be number 1, then Liam Neeson has to at least make the top 3.
19. Star Shooter
Like many young kids growing up on the Emerald Isle, Farrell’s big ambition was to become a professional footballer.
18. Born to be a Baller
Both Farrell’s uncle and father played for the Shamrock Rovers Football Club, which explains the actor’s drive to join the family business and go pro.
17. Boss Baby
He’s the baby of the family, with two older sisters—one of whom became his personal assistant—and an older brother.
16. A Star is Born
Farrell was born on May 31, 1976, in Castleknock, Ireland, a suburb of Dublin. That late spring birthday makes Farrell a Gemini.
15. High Praise
Al Pacino had always been a role model for Farrell’s acting career, so he was thrilled to be cast alongside Pacino in the 2003 film The Recruit. After filming was completed, Pacino called his co-star Farrell “the best actor of his generation.” No small praise, considering the source!
14. His Greatest Weapon
2003’s Daredevil was the first time that the actor was allowed to use his native Irish accent. The fact that it took so long is a crime and a waste, because damn, that brogue.
13. That’s my Jam
Singer/songwriter Cedric Gauthier wrote a song called “I Wanna Be Colin Farrell.” Some of the lyrics include the lines: “He swears on TV, doesn’t care what anybody thinks/Girls love him even with a beard, his accent can get him anything.” A bit cringeworthy, but sincere!
12. No Oscars Yet
Despite commercial and critical success, Farrell has never won an Academy Award. He has, however, been nominated for the award counterpart to an Oscar—in 2005, he was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Actor for his performance in Alexander, a movie most remembered for the fact that Angelina Jolie played Farrell’s mother.
11. Just Say No
When Farrell finished filming Miami Vice in 2006, he checked himself into rehab to beat his reliance on drugs and alcohol. After becoming sober he told the media,”Basically, I’d been fairly drunk or high since I was 14, so it was a tough life change, and I was dying. I’m one of the lucky ones.” He’s been sober since that first stint in rehab.
10. A Relaxing Beating at the Spa
Farrell is a huge fan of spas, and goes to them regularly for a pick-me-up. He’s not after the typical relaxing, pampering experience, however. At a bathhouse in New York while receiving a “Platza” treatment where the body is hit with bundles of leaves, he insisted that the spa workers hit him so hard that they asked him to wear a shirt out of the spa—so that they wouldn’t get in trouble with management if they happened to see the marks on Farrell’s skin.
9. Man About Town
Farrell’s charm and looks have meant that he has had many dalliances and relationships, some of them with Hollywood actresses. Throughout the 2000s he was spotted with Lake Bell, fellow wild child Lindsay Lohan, Carmen Electra, Angelina Jolie, Demi Moore, and even took Britney Spears as his date to the premiere of 2003’s The Recruit.
8. Smarties in the Wind
As a child, Farrell put up a poster of Marilyn Monroe in his bedroom and would leave notes and treats as an offering to her. His offering of choice was a handful of Smarties with a note saying “You should try these, I know you’re dead but they’re really good.” His feelings were a bit hurt, he told Jimmy Kimmel in an interview, that the actress didn’t respond from beyond the grave.
7. A Spokesperson for Angelman Syndrome
Farrell has two sons with two different women: Henry, born 2009; and James, born in 2003. After James was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome, which is characterized by some by developmental delays and seizures, Farrell became a spokesperson for the condition and helps raise funds in support of families who also have children living with the syndrome.
6. Pillow Talk
One of Farrell’s ex-girlfriends, Emma Forrest, is a writer who composed a memoir that includes in-depth details about their relationship. Called Your Voice in My Head, the memoir is being adapted for the screen with A-list stars like Stanley Tucci, and either Emily Blunt or Emma Watson as the lead. No word on who will play Farrell or if he himself will appear on screen.
5. Elephant Guardian
One of Farrell’s upcoming projects is a remake of that wonderful yet terrifying childhood classic, Dumbo. Farrell will play Holt Farrier, a former circus star who is in charge of looking after the titular elephant.
4. More Boozing than Schmoozing
Known as a bit of a wild child, Farrell calls the six-year period of 2000 to 2006 his “lost years.” After moving to the United States, the actor’s booze and drug-fueled partying became fodder for the tabloids, impacting his career by making casting agents wary about his reliability.
3. A Check-In
In April 2018, Farrell checked himself into a rehab facility in Arizona after 12 years of sobriety. The actor had not relapsed; Farrell simply worried he was heading to a dark place after becoming overwhelmed with all his responsibilities and film projects, and might succumb to his old addictions for comfort. Anyone has seen The Killing of a Sacred Deer could understand how making that film could’ve put him in a dark place.
2. A Close Shave
Before a full-frontal nude scene (and his first sex scene) in his first American film, the Vietnam War epic Tigerland, the actor nervously approached director Joel Schumacher and threw open his bathrobe to get his opinion on what Farrell calls his “retro bush” situation. He was sent to the hair and makeup trailer to deal with the situation, but went too far, and things ended up looking far from natural. The production decided to cut the full-frontal element to the scene. All that work (and lost hair) for nothing!
1. An Unlucky Resemblance
When Farrell was backpacking around Australia in his late teens, he was accosted by the police as a suspect in a murder. The police artists’ drawing of the man in question bore an unfortunate resemblance to the actor, who had partied so much on the night in question that he had blacked out. He was allowed to go free when he provided the police with his friend’s journal detailing the night out, which was spent across town, doing MDMA together.