Paul Farren caught up with Colin Farrell and talked to him about Phone Booth and working with Joel Schumacher.
Tell us a little bit about Phone Booth.
It’s about a guy, a publicist who has just lost the run of himself, buying his own hype a little too much and this bird he wants to bang, but he’s married and he never calls the bird from his mobile phone because his wife checks the bill. So he calls her from the phone booth before three o’clock every day. One day he calls and she says again she’s busy, he puts the phone down and it starts to ring and he picks it up thinking she might be trying to three sixty nine him. He answers the phone and a dude on the other end says isn’t it funny the phone rings and it could be anybody but it still has to be answered. He claims to be a sniper in one of the nearby buildings and says he will kill me if I hang up the phone. The next hour and fifteen minutes is about me and him getting closer and closer, but still worrying if he’s going to pull the trigger.
It was a really quick shoot, wasn’t it?
It was shot in twelve days, which by normal standards sounds like looper shooting. It was a fairly low budget and we rehearsed for three weeks. Which you never get to do on film.
Rehearsing like that must have been a bit of a treat?
Ah yeah it was great, it was fuckin’ deadly. We sat around the table for a week and a half talking through the script, which was a great script. We knew we only had twelve days to shoot so when we finally got down to the street we wanted to know what was happening. There were fifteen actors, three assistant directors, Joel and me. We talked about it and changed little bits and then took it out onto the street. We had a phone booth, so we could rehearse around it, cars parked, people moving around. It was very obvious where I was going to be: I was in the fuckin’ phone booth (laughs).
Your American accent seems flawless. Does it take a lot of work?
Thanks, yeah I prepped with a voice coach. Usually I like to do three or four weeks before a job and start workin’ on it. A few hours every day just working on the script, and working on sounds. Then listening to tapes of Americans that represent where that particular character is from. Just practice, practice, practice.
Tell us about working with Joel Schumacher.
It was a blast. I loved working with Joel. I met him first when he was meeting a load of actors for Tigerland and I got a call “Do you want to go to London and meet Joel Schumacher?” and of course I’m going to do it. So I met Schumacher for three minutes and I left the office thinking, “That’s a fuckin’ waste of me time.” Then he called from America, I went over and had two weeks of general meetings and read for it again and got it. After that came Phone Booth. I can’t wait to see it, I can’t fuckin’ wait, to see if it works.
Have you achieved much fame in the States since Tigerland?
Nobody knows who the fuck I am!
How do you think you’ll handle the fame game when it does kick in?
I’ve no idea. It’s not something I’d know how to prepare for even if I gave a fuck about trying to prepare for it.
Are you living in the States much?
No, no not at all, I don’t have to go. This is how lucky I am. I’ve skipped so many rungs on the ladder that I don’t have to submerge myself in Hollywood and Hollywood society because I’ve had so many opportunities out of nowhere. I can go for a week and do a load of meetings then get the fuck out of there and come back here and there’s a great thing called Fedex as well. I get scripts sent from L.A. and I read them in Irishtown, so I’m lucky that way. All you’d end up doin’ is just going to parties and getting in trouble (laughs).
This article originally appeared in Film Ireland Magazine, Issue 105 in 2002