Colin Farrell


  1. Matthew Davis, Tigerland, 2000.   Fresh off the boat from Dublin’s fair city, the handsome Irishman read for Paxton. Then, his LAgent told him  director Joel Schumacher wanted him for the lead. “I felt… It’s all gonna change.”  And it did. From great reviews to a slagging off for Hart’s War, a movie he never enjoyed making. “The tumult was so loud, that it blocked out the purity of the 16-year-old in the Dublin workshop.”
  2. Ben Affleck, Daredevil, 2002.  The suddenly and greatly known unknown Irish actor was approached about the blind hero – with Ben as the nasty Bullseye. Commitments being as they were (ie the inexplicable rise and rise and rise of Farrell), they swopped. Also in the frame: Matt Damon (who had little faith in what became his mate Affleck’s film), Vin Diesel (he preferred The Chronicles of Riddick), Edward Norton (The Incredible Hulk in 2007) and  Guy Pearce.  Farrell’s LA discoverer, director Joel Schumacher often opined: “If Julia Roberts walked into your house when she was 20, or Colin Farrell at 24, and you didn’t hire them, you shouldn’t have a job making movies.”
  3. Tom Cruise, Collateral,  2003.    Good grief, a film Farrell did not make! Hard to credit, the way he knocked off a dozen movies in his first four LA years including, two years back, being second banana to Cruise in Minority Report. Now he was Tom’s rival for the lead! Also seen for the hitman in the back of Jamie Foxx’s cab: Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward Norton, John Travolta. Director Michael Mann called Farrell and Foxx back for Miami Vice, 2005
  4. Ryan Reynolds, Blade: Trinity, 2004.    After working with Cate Blanchett, Tom Cruise, Al Pacino, Joel Schumacher, Steven Spielberg, Bruce Willis, the Irishman had no desire to be Hannibal King. Even Reynolds had to improvise the best line to Blade, “You might wanna try blinking.”   That year, after his worst reviews – for Oliver Stone’s Alexander epic – Farrell “seriously thought of walking away from it all.” 

  5. Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain, 2004.   
    Hollywood was not keen on Annie Prouix’s 1977 short story –  two gay shepherds in Wyoming, get outa here!  Until directors (more than actors) queued to make it.  Ang Lee, Joel Schumacher – but first in line was Gus Van Sant (obviously). He called up Damon and Joaquin Phoenix (obviously, they’d made his Good Will Hunting and To Die For, respectively). Said Damon: “Gus, I did a gay movie [The Talented Mr Ripley, then a cowboy movie [All the Pretty Horses]. I can’t follow it up with a gay-cowboy movie!”  Ang Lee was considering retirement when the script “nurtured” him back to work, only to find many actors were scared to play gay. Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Philippe and Brad Pitt all refused. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal did not. “These two are among the best in their age group.. Jake plays the opposite of Heath and it creates a very good couple in terms of a romantic love story.”  Gyllenhaal added: “I don’t think that these two characters even know what gay is.… What ties [them] together is not just a love, but … primarily it was deep loneliness.” Ang Lee  told journo  Robert Ordona  that in the 60s, he’d have chosen  Paul Newman and Montgomery Clift as Ennis and Jack.

  6. Daniel Craig, Casino Royale, 2006.
  7. Adrien Brody, The Jacket, 2005.     Farrell could not make everything. He was, though, trying. Yeah, very trying – by now  with rumours of him sleeping his way through the directors’ A List. Malick, Schumacher, Spielberg, Stone – and Michael Mann to come. Not bad going for someone who had been a boozer since swallowing his parents’ drinks cabinet at 13 and finding  that “pubs fitted like a fucking glove.”  
  8. Heath Ledger, I’m Not There, 2006.  Six actors in search of Bob Dylan… by playing him. (One was Cate Blanchett with a sock in her pants, “it helped me walk like a man”). Farrell was due as the incarnation called Robbie Clark, but in joined  Woody Allen’s quite abysmal Cassandra’s Dream direct from  rehab.   Two years later, viced-versa,  as Farrell helped take over one of three incarnations of the suddenly dead Ledger in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.”
  9. Cuba Gooding, What Love Is, 2007.    Val Kilmer’s combine was due to produce Colin, Robert Downey Jr and, of course, The Boss, following Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Farrell was so bloated after Miami Vice, that after the wrap party he flew into rehab. “The bottom line is I became a common or garden drug addict…   really put a lot of stuff in my body  chemical and alcohol abuse.” He was still up for Batman in Wolfgang Petersen’s 2006 cross-over project, Batman vs Superman… and a certain 007.
  10. Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker, 2007.    An early idea for the bomb disposal expert in what James Cameron called, after persuading his ex-wife Kathyryn Bigelow,  to direct it,  “the  Platoon of the Iraq War. ” It beat Avatar for Best Film and Director on  March 7, 2010 –  the first woman to win either or both.  “Well,  the time has come, ” proclaimed Barbra Streisand  presenting the directing Oscar.  It had only taken 81 years!

  11. Jude Law, Sherlock Holmes, 2008.     Doesn’t seem likely, but apparently, Col  and Sam Worthington had talks about being for Dr Watson. Then,  Law became free – which then meant his ex-lover, Sienna Miller, fled from  playing Irene Adler in Guy Ritchie’s lock-stock-and-bleedin’-barrel take on effing’ Conan Doyle.
  12. Brad Pitt, The Tree of Life,  2010.    So pleased with his young stars of his fourth film in 31 years  – The New World, 2004 –  director Terrence Malick offered his fifth film, The Tree of Life, 2010, to Farrell – and the sixth (in 38 years) to Christian Bale.  Malick made both films; the actors did not. “He’s so sure,” praised Farrell.   “As fascinated by a blade of grass as by a human being… So endearing… Likes to be able to shoot 360 degrees… With some of the most gracious and sumptuous use of the English language – and he then cuts most of it out!” This  ambitious oddity compared by some to 2001 and others to Popeye. Even with a crew cut, Pitt is just too much of a  nice guy to be a tough,  intolerant father.
  13.  François Arnaud, The Borgias, TV, 2010.   Farrell as Cesare,  Scarlett Johansson as Lucretia – that was Neil Jordan’s  plan four years   before the Irish director got his film  off the ground… as a TV  series. 
  14. Steve Howey, Something Borrowed, 2010.     In the mix for Marcus in the screen version of Emily Griffin’s 2005 chick literature… produced by Hilary Swank. 
  15. Garrett Hedlund, On The Road, 2010.   Argentina-Brazil-Canada-France-Germany-Holland-Mexico-UK-US. 2010.   Numerous attempts were made at filming Jack Kerouac’s 1957 “beat” classic. He even mused on playing himself (or his aka Sal Paradise) in 1957 opposite Marlon Brando as Neal Cassady (aka Dean Moriarty). Marlon never replied to his invite, probably thinking it was a fake. 1979: Francis Coppola  bought the rights. He  tried to write a script but “never knew how to do it.”1995:  He planned a 16mm black-white version with “beat” poet Allen Ginsberg. (Johnny Depp declined in the 90s). 2005: Joel Schumacher helming Billy Crudup-Colin Farrell…or Brad Pitt-Ethan Hawke. Finally, Coppola & Son (Roman) and 26 other producers (!) had Brazilian Walter Salles directing English Sam Riley, Australian Garrett Hedlund – and Kristen Stewart as Mary Lou, once offered to Lindsay Lohan and Winona Ryder. Salles also checked Joseph Gordon-Levitt-James Franco.  Hedlund first committed in 2007; he lost out to Farrell for Winter’s Tale, 2013.
  16. Chris Pine, This Means War, 2012.   And they say Farrell doesn’t recognise a bum script… Farrell, Bradley Cooper, Sam Worthington were also up for the CIAgent at war with his junior partner (James Franco, Seth Rogen or Justin Timberlake) – over Reese Witherspoon?! Way back at the turn of the century, it was to be a black two-hander for Martin Lawrence and Chris Rock. But they’d all read the script – “whose sensible parts,” suggested New York Times critic Louis Lumenick “would fit on a napkin with enough room left over for the Gettysburg Address.” Chicago’s Roger Ebert simply added: “So bad it’s nothing else but bad.”

  17. Tom Cruise, Jack Reacher, 2011.
    Some of the names – and heights – up for Lee Child’s craggy ex-military cop-cum-Sherlock-homeless  were absurd.  Jim Carrey, for example. Jim Carrey!  Some 25 others  were Nicolas Cage, Russell Crowe, Johnny Depp, Cary Elwes,  Colin Farrell, Harrison Ford, Jamie Foxx, Mel Gibson, Hugh Wolverine Jackman, Dwayne Johnson (“I look back in gratitude that I didn’t get Jack Reacher”),  Avatar’s Stephen Lang, Dolph Lundgren, Edward Norton, Ron (Hellboy) Perlman, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves (he became John Wick x 5),  Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Vince Vaughn, Denzel Washington and the battle-fatigued  Bruce Willis.  Any of them would have been more acceptable than Tom Cruise  – with the exception of Carrey, Depp, Elwes, Reeves and, obviously the Euros. Pitt was best of the pack (remember Fight Club?)… although no one even thought of the obvious choice –   Liam Neeson!  Reacher fans were livid about  the 5ft 5ins Cruise daring to be  the  6ft 5ins  action hero. Reminiscent of Anne Rice’s capitulation over  tiny Tom as her “very tall” Lestat in  Interview With The Vampire, in 1994, author Lee Child declared: “Reacher’s size is a metaphor for an unstoppable force – which Cruise portrays in his own way.” Ah! But then in 2018, after the sequel, Child changed his tune about his child. (They share the same birthday, October 29).  ”Ultimately, the readers are right. The size of Reacher is really, really important and it’s a big component of who he is… So what I’ve decided to do is – there won’t be any more movies with Tom CruiseWe’re rebooting,  we’re going to try and find the perfect guy.” And they did with 6ft. 2ins Alan Richtson – Aquaman in Smallville and Hawk in Supergirl and Titans – for the Amazon series.

  18. Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables,  2011.    After  a two-hour meeting with director Tom Hooper –  “a really cool chat”   – they both  realised Farrell  was too young for either  of the two  leads.  The escaped convict Jean Valjean (over the years aimed at  everyone from Warren Beatty (!!!) to Jack Nicholson)…

  19. Russell Crowe, Les Miserables,  2011.    …and his unrelenting nemesis, Inspector  Javert (the model for  Lieutenant Gerard in The Fugitive, TV, 1963-1967).
  20. Robert Pattinson, Cosmopolis, 2011.    Col had to split due to his Total Recall re-make.  Big mistake. He was  subbed by Pattinson – who then stayed favoured by director  David Cronenberg for Maps To The Stars, 2013. “Rob surprised me every day,” said Cronenberg.  “He really didn’t realise how good he was. … He was surprising himself, but he was surprising me. By his accuracy. Just dead on.”

  21. Ryan Phillippe, By Virtue Fall, 2011.    Farrell was in, then he was out, back in again until Jeremy Renner was considered… But as Deadline’s Nikki Fine said after Fright Night flopped in 2011… Colin “is decidedly not a star despite Hollywood giving him gazillion chances to become one. Everyone needs to stop trying. He’s a fine actor but audiences don’t want to watch him in massive numbers.”
  22. Anston Mount, Hick, 2011.    Another time, another place and it could have worked out for Farrell (and, indeed, Kirsten Dunst)  in the movie of Andrea Portes’ Vegas novel (and script).

  23. Gerard Butler, Movie 43, 2012.     
    Poor Col had been in some stinkers but escaped being a foul-mouthed Leprechaun in this “Citizen Kane of awful” (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times), a series of comedic (?) skits covering  defecation, first period, Hugh Jackman having his  testicles on his chin, Halle Berry’s breasts in the guacamole and a cartoon cat peeing on Elizabeth Banks.  A dozen directors from Banks to Brett Ratner pitched it as “the biggest cast ever assembled for the most outrageous comedy ever made.” Kate Bosworth, Anna Faris, Richard Gere, Stephen Merchant, Chloe Grace Moretz, Dennis Quaid, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts…  Jason Sudeikis and Uma Thurman as a  fake  Batman and Lois Lane.  Jackman and Kate Winslet shot their clip some years before the  off.  Critics dubbed it the worst film of all time, and Farrelly told them  to lighten up and “back off.” David Edelstein didn’t in New York magazine.  “It’s rare  to see a piece of shit that actually looks and sounds like a piece of shit…   Was someone holding Kate Winslet’s children hostage? Threatening to release compromising pictures of Emma Stone? Did Richard Gere or Hugh Jackman have gambling debts?

  24. Mark Strong, The Brothers Grimsby, 2014. The pitch was better than the movie. : James Bond has a brother – his complete opposite, family man, football hooligan… Sacha Baron Cohen. But who could be super spy Commander  Sebastian Graves? “We wanted someone who could actually be in a real action franchise,” said SBC. The team  looked at Farrell and Clive Owen (both rumoured for 007 in their prime) and Australian Guy Pearce.  Mark was strongest. He came from from various forms of espionage from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy to the Kingsman series and his pals included Daniel Craig! . “Mark’s incredibly tough,” added Cohen. “He does all his own stunts. He’s a brilliant fighter. And he’s totally real – you completely believe him.”  And he stole the entire gig. Which is perhaps why SBC’ later chose drama in 2019 as The Spy – real life Israeli hero, Eli Cohen.
  25. Dominic Cooper,  Warcraft: The Beginning, 2015.  And The End… Oh, it did well, ($433m), but  was a bit of a yawn… despite, or even because of, some 2,000 SFX shots. Farrell read the scenario and met with director Duncan Jones – but Cooper (and his wife, Ruth Negga) took the throne as the benevolentroyals, King Llane Wrynn and Lady Tariz, leading four human kingdoms in the Orc-Human.  The Coopers then  became Jesse Custer and Tulip O’Hara in Preacher, TV, 2016-.

  26. Will Smith, Suicide Squad, 2015.     After seeing 14 possible Harley Quinns, director David Ayer shuffled through 19 Deadshots. None hit the target. Not Farrell,  Daniel Craig, Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Idris Elba, Michael Fassbender, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jon Hamm.  Nor Oscar Isaac, Joel Kinnaman (he became Rick Flag), Matthew McConaughey, Ewan McGregor, Robert Pattinson, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Alexander Skarsgård and Jason Statham.  Another Warner/DC flop  because Warner wasn’t Marvel and Smith was way  too top-heavy for a team effort.
  27. Benedict Cumberbatch, Doctor Strange, 2015.  Discussed, planned, written, re-spun since 1986, always dropped despite scripts from Alex Cox, Wes Craven, Bob Gale, etc, until chosen as the  portal into the supernatural side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.Mads Mikkelsen was first choice. But that was in in 2013…  Among those later flown up the flagpole were  TV doctor Patrick Dempsey, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jon Hamm, Tom Hardy, Ethan Hawke, Jack Huston, Oscar Isaac, Matthew McConaughey, Ewan McGregor, Vincent Price (in 1986!), Keanu Reeves (listed but never approached – how wise!), Justin Theroux. Oh and two Jokers: 2015’s Jared Leto and 2018’s Joachin Phoenix.  Finally, production wisely waited until after Cumberbatch’s Hamlet stagetriumph in London. If Iron Man is Mick Jagger, Strange is Jim Morrison…  and could be head of the MCU after Robert Downey pawned his ironmongery. 
  28. Charlie Hunnam, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, 2015.   On Warner shelves almost as long as Justice League, director David Dobkins churned into Guy Ritchie for the first of a possible sextet (but there are no Hobbits!). During which time, the guy pulling the sword from the stonealso included Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Dominic Cooper, Jai Courtney,Kit Harington,  the Scottish Hans Matheson (from Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, 2009) or Benjamin Walker. Then, Hunnam promised to recover his Sons of Anarchy weight loss. The Dobkins version was axed as too pricey ($130m) for an unknown lead like Harrington. Unknown? Planet Earth was watching him in Game of Thrones!!  Farrell was urgently offered Arthur…
  29. Adam Driver, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, 2017.



















 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  29