Charismatic Irishman, Colin Farrell, steps into a rather large pair of shoes once worn by Arnold Schwarzenegger on the remake of the science fiction actioner, 'Total Recall'.
“Do you like violence?” That question is asked to Colin Farrell’s ex-con by Keira Knightley’s reclusive actress in the thriller, London Boulevard, but it could have been directed to the actor himself. True, the handsome Irishman has been in a number of films in which bullets don’t fly and punches aren’t thrown, but he has mostly played characters who live in violent worlds: Jesse James (American Outlaws), Alexander The Great (Alexander), explorers (The New World), soldiers (Tigerland), vampires (Fright Night), and hit men (In Bruges).
But Total Recall – director Len Wiseman’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s book, which was previously brought to the screen by Paul Verhoeven and Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1990 – is much bigger. For the first time, Farrell has been asked to carry a mammoth film, on shoulders that are much less muscular than Schwarzenegger’s. “I was quite content making In Bruges and Ondine, films that budget-wise were smaller in scale, where I didn’t feel pressure,” Farrell recalls. “But I said, ‘It scares the shit out of me being in a big film, but I’m now open to doing it’. And this opportunity came along. It’s terrifying, but I can’t say that I’m having a tough life if the pressure that I feel comes from being at the centre of a $130 million film.”
It was by no means just the big budget action that drew Farrell to this project though. A one-time bad boy who seemed to “find himself” following rehab several years ago, Farrell tells FilmInk that he “responded to the idea in the script of a man who just didn’t know who he was. The movie brings up questions that we ask every day: What makes a person who he is? What forms us? Can we change? My character has been told that he’s Quaid, and that he has a wife [Kate Beckinsale], and that for a long time, he has gone to work every day in a factory. That’s all that he knows and remembers. Now he’s told by Melina [Jessica Biel] that he’s actually Hauser, and that they knew each other before he was changed. He has this life of memories, but when he discovers that he’s been Quaid for only six weeks, his whole world crumbles around him in a really violent and aggressive way.”
Farrell welcomes the challenge of playing a character who has an internal struggle going on – the ultimate identity crisis! – while he puts his body on the line in a series of physical confrontations; he says that action comes easier to him than softer scenes. “I find anger and hate easier to express,” Farrell says reflectively and revealingly. “It’s because I have a very communal relationship with love in my life – with family and friends that I’m fortunate to have – but I have deposits of anger that don’t get to come out in life. I don’t hunt and I don’t gather, so there’s a lot of stuff in there that’s easier to access. Love is constantly being used in my life, so to also use it in work gets very tricky. I have to be careful not to manipulate my own experience too much.”
Total Recall is released on August 23. This is an excerpt from our interview with Farrell included in the current issue of FilmInk, which is on sale now, and can also be downloaded here.