While the Irish are famous for their legendary wit, you wouldn't know it by looking at the career of Colin Farrell, whose recent resume includes flicks like Cassandra's Dream, Miami Vice, The New World and Alexander -- serious affairs largely lacking in humor of any kind (unless you count his haircut in Alexander). But the Dublin-bred actor can be quite the funny chap, and he demonstrates as much in In Bruges, Martin McDonagh's darkly comic tale of a pair of Irish hitmen sent to hide out in Belgium after a botched job.
Farrell co-stars alongside Brendan Gleeson (Beowulf, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) in the film, which opened this year's Sundance Film Festival, as Ray, a nervous, socially awkward mobster obsessed with, among other things, the proclivities of little people.
I asked Farrell what made his character so funny. "If I’m having a laugh with mates I kind of know I’m having a laugh -- like most of us seem to -- but we also love those characters we meet in life every now and then that have no idea how funny they are and you aren’t ever laughing at them," he attempted to explain in his trademark, rapid-fire fashion. "You are totally laughing with them and they might be bewildered as to why you find them so funny and they genuinely don’t understand it, but they just have a kind of a more unusual outlook on life or perspective. Ray was definitely one of those. He has no idea how funny how funny his outlook is, but it’s such a skewed look on his environment and the world around him and so lovely. There’s such purity to him, you know? (He’s) very childlike as well, perfectly honest. There’s no self-censorship or any of that good stuff."
Farrell gives most of the credit to writer/director McDonagh and his knack for dialogue. "There was kind of an otherworldliness to it or kind of a hyper-reality to the way the characters spoke," said Farrell. "In one part I could understand what they were saying and I could get to the root of what they were saying and why they were saying it and even what something was maybe masking or how everything, at other times, may have seemed like it was undiluted and exactly what was being felt. At the same time I never heard characters talk like this. I’d never heard characters talk like this at all."
Farrell can next be seen alongside Edward Norton and Jon Voight in the crime drama Pride and Glory, which is slated for a 2009 release.
In Bruges opens in select theaters this Friday, February 8th.