Actor happy for chance to use his own accent
Recommending another actor for a part that you’d love to play seems like a counterintuitive approach for a movie star.
But that was exactly the scenario when Irish actor Colin Farrell met with Oscar-winning director Martin McDonagh (Six Shooter) to discuss the latter’s script for a film that would eventually become In Bruges.
Farrell adored the script, but recommended an unknown for the part of Ray, the rookie hit man dispatched to Bruges, Belgium, with his partner Ken (Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix’ Brendan Gleeson) to await orders from their boss (Ralph Fiennes) after a hit goes awry.
“I read it and it was just the best thing I’d ever read,” Farrell recalls during a recent interview in Los Angeles. “It was so good I wanted (audiences) to experience it as purely as they could. I thought it would be wise not to cast me.”
Writer-director McDonagh didn’t take the Miami Vice actor’s advice and cast him in the dark comedy, one that, among other things, engages in a running dialogue about the aesthetic and cultural relevance of Bruges — the once-wealthy medieval trading city whose historic centre is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site — between Farrell and Gleeson’s characters.
Ray hates every second in the city while Ken is enchanted by its old-world charm.
“There’s a real outpost feel to it,” Farrell says, outlining his feelings toward Bruges after spending weeks filming in the city. “I went for the maudlin aspect of the place whereas Brendan went for the fairy tale aspect of it.”
And for those curious to know, the 31-year-old did, indeed, enjoy his time in the popular tourist destination.
That aside, the film marks Farrell’s first opportunity since his turn in the 2003 film Intermission to play an Irish character using his native accent, an opportunity he says he relished given the fact most of his parts have required him to adopt British or American tones.
“It can be an avenue into a character,” he says of accent work, “but at times it can also be a hindrance. It can be a boundary to you as a person and you as an actor and you maintaining or finding the truth of a character and staying in it.
“I know from personal experience there have been times where, and it’s probably been through laziness or having too much fun off the set, but I haven’t done as much work maybe as I should have and then there’s been times maybe shooting where I’ve heard a sound pop mid-sentence and it takes you out of whatever you were supposed to be doing. You get through it and finish the scene, but you know you weren’t right.”
In Bruges opens in theatres today.