With a glass of red wine in one hand and cigarette in the other, Colin Farrell unhesitatingly admits that stepping into the shoes of Oliver Stone's Alexander is not only his toughest acting gig to date but "maybe the toughest thing I'll ever do. There's not going to be many parts that pop up like it."
Typically jubillent as he holds court in a Los Angeles hotel room, Farrell admits working with the often intense Oliver Stone, had their share of arguments on the set, but only for the good of Stone's ferociously passionate project. "You inevitably have conflict of how to get that interest realised and so in respect to that, we'd rub up against each other at times. Oliver's so smart, so articulate, knows the piece so well and loves it so much that it was never a bad thing. But he's a task master and he pushes and pushes you, regardless of whether you're in the crew or you're part of the cast and he pushes himself just as much, if not more. Like Alexander did, Oliver leads from the front and would never ask you to do something that he wouldn't do himself."
Conquering 90% of the known world by the age of 25, Alexander the Great (Farrell), who succeeded to the throne following the assassination of his father Phillip of Macedonia, led his armies through 22,000 miles of sieges and conquests in just eight years. Coming out of tiny Macedonia, Alexander led his armies against the mighty Persian Empire, drove west to Egypt, and finally made his way east to India. The movie concentrates on those eight years of battles, as well as his relationship with his boyhood friend and battle mate, Hephaestion and the often tumultuous relationships he had with two important women in his life: his mother, the power hungry and manipulative Olympias [Angelina Jolie] and his wife, the sexy, and domineering Roxane [Rosario Dawson]. Yet it is Alexander's bisexuality [a complete non-issue during this period] that seems to have attracted the attention of the press, about which Farrell is not surprised, because of the "boring world we live in. Everyone's so narrow-minded that they have to boil everything down to sex, just look at my interviews . stud, bad boy, so obvious," he admits, laughingly, yet quietly angry that those elements of Alexander are even being brought up. But I'm not surprised at all, because people have such a closed-up and linear way of thinking, a lot of the time, in respect to those things." Alexander drank hard, fought hard and even loved at hard, and at the time, was a star, yet Farrell says there is not too much in Alexander with which the Irish actor could identify. "Because you need to find somewhere in you that can believe what he believed and can believe the things that he believed to be possible, is possible. You have to find something in yourself that can agree with his philosophies, so in that respect, I did. I read a lot about him, I thought a lot about him. I fell in love with him in many respects. But I found him to have had an incredibly sad life, and one filled with great glory, promise, achievement and massive wealth, king of the f----g world and could have anyone he wanted as a lover. But one hears stories of the isolation of leadership and how lonely it is at the top, because you're never going to please everybody, you're always going to have enemies, and you're always going to have to cope even if you have fans and supporters." Farrell disagrees that there are parallels between that life and that of a movie star. "No it's a different life, one that's far too easy. Sure I have my detractors and I have people that go well done, but you go in there and you start to diminish. For me if I went in to that kind of thing, seeing those kinds of comparisons, I would start to diminish the experience that was being him." Colin Farrell is now at the top of Hollywood's food chain, an A-list star whose tough-minded Irishness has made him a refreshing favourite amongst the media. Never afraid of speaking his mind, he still handles the media with a refreshing honesty that rarely exists here, but says that he never planned it that way, that's just how he is. "Maybe if I did plan, I'd fall into the trap of then having some defence mechanisms. I just go to work and I'm asked questions about it and answer as best I can." This despite recent magazine stories that dealt with drug use and other facets of a private life that remain fascinating to his fans, but Farrell says that these days, he tries to be less candid about his private life. "I'll say it's great to be a Dad and all that stuff but I'll never talk about my son or about his mother at all. I never talk about anyone else's business or my experience with anyone else or never bring anyone else into my shit, but I've talked consistently, and repetitively about my past experiences, individually to me and what they meant at the time, the way they happened at the time and what happened at the time. I've done that to death, finished with that, so what are we going to talk about now? Oh yeah, I'd better talk about the work now." Farrell has no regrets, he says, about the wild , carousing image that that we remember from the actor's earliest stints, an image not too dissimilar from the young Richard Harris and Peter O'Toole a generation earlier. "No regrets, man. This is damaging? I'm here five years later, man, have done the biggest film in my career and just finished working with Terry Malick, so it hasn't been damaging, but it was never cultivated. I haven't changed that much. I've been through a lot, so for me to stay the same, for any of us to stay the same in our lives, would be a shame. We have a chance to change and grow. It doesn't mean I don't get up to some mischief and that I don't have a good time and enjoy my life, but I've seen certain things that affect me in certain ways, and I hope I continue to change as we all should. Evolution shouldn't just be about time spans of a thousand years, but could happen in one person's life for them." As for Farrell's professional future, one thing is clear: despite Pierce Brosnan's endorsement, there is unlikely to be a James Bond in bastard doing it as a joke because everyone's asking me now. , but there's certain things I don't want to de-mystify and Bond is one of them. I'll put my ten dollars on the table and watch Bond which I've been watching as a kid. I don't need to go there. Besides, they won't come near me as Her Majesty's Secret Service wouldn't have me on the payroll," he says laughingly. Farrell is also tipped to be in Michael Mann's feature version of Miami Vice but says that nothing is final. "I'm not even definitely in it. No, there's one guy, Jamie Foxx I believe, who is." But he has read Mann's script and loves what he sees as being a take on the classic TV series. "It's really brilliantly written, it's great, and goes deep into the undercover world. It's Michael Mann doing what he did, in a different way of course. His writing is heavy, tough and with some of the great dialogue he's written. He's a great film maker and he does this kind of genre thing so beautifully that it would be an amazing opportunity."