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Colin Farrell Discusses 'In Bruges'

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Colin Farrell Discusses 'In Bruges'

Colin Farrell in 'In Bruges'.

© Focus Features
Updated February 17, 2014

Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson play hit men sent to Bruges to lay low for a couple of weeks in the twisted comedy, In Bruges. After a hit goes bad, boss man Harry (Ralph Fiennes) sends Ray (Farrell) and Ken (Gleeson) away for what's supposed to be a brief, relaxing vacation. The problem is, Ray doesn't want to spend even one night in Bruges after taking an immediate disliking to the city. Instead of enjoying the scenery in the most well-preserved medieval city in Belgium, Ray hates the idea of staying put in Bruges and that leads to arguments and, of course, big trouble.

Farrell says the script for In Bruges was the best he’d ever read. That’s high praise coming from a man who worked his way onto the A-list over the past decade with starring roles in Tigerland, Alexander, Miami Vice and The New World. “It's just my favorite thing I've ever read,” said Farrell of the In Bruges screenplay. “On one hand, I understood the characters. I felt that I understood them and I understood their way of communicating. On another hand, I couldn't figure out how an actor could say any of these words because some of it's quite outlandish. Thank God we had the three weeks rehearsal, but it was just beautiful language, really beautiful language, beautiful descriptions. It was a lot more expressive of a certain kind of truth that was inherently existing within all the characters than it seemed on the page. There is a melancholy to the piece that is completely lacking in indulgence. It was beautiful. I found reading it, yes, it was very poignant and all that, but it was also very painful and very emotional. But it just wasn't crescendoing to any particular moments. So it was just a beautiful script.”

Farrell doesn’t think his past directors Michael Mann or Oliver Stone would feel slighted by his insistence In Bruges is the best thing he’s gotten his hands on. “How do I think they'd feel? They'll feel fine, I'm sure,” said Farrell. “They have an idea of who they are and how good they are and how strong they are as artists. They'd be fine with it.”

Farrell can point to a couple of lines in particular in writer/director Martin McDonagh's script that absolutely blew him away. “There was two lines that just I actually had to put the script down. When he says, ‘Amsterdam, that's just full of bloody prostitutes.’ And so she says, ‘Yes, that's why I came to Bruges. I thought I'd get a better price for my p---sy...’”

Farrell's other favorite bit of dialogue didn't make the final cut but will be included on the DVD. “There's a great line where Harry is on the train, the channel tunnel, going to Bruges to do the deed. He sits down in front of a businessman and the businessman says something to him like, ‘You going to Bruges on business or something?’ Harry looks at him and says, ‘If I wanted to talk to a c--t, I would have gone to the Talk to a C--t shop.’ So those were two I remember - I couldn't believe it.”

But it wasn't just the script that got Farrell enthused. The whole process of working on the film was a revelation to Farrell who credits McDonagh with making In Bruges a real learning experience as well as a pleasure to work on. “The whole thing was, apart form the singularity of Martin's vision manifesting in this script, after that fact the whole thing became such a collaboration. The three weeks of rehearsal we had was just such playtime for us, really. It's a luxury that you don't really get on films that much. I think the only other time I rehearsed as intensely was for Phone Booth because that was a 10 day shoot and we had to really block it and stuff. But no, it was a great time just to sit in there and just talk about it. I thought we'd run out of steam about halfway through the second week, we'd be going, ‘Can we shoot it already?’ But every time we asked one question of the script and thought we came to a conclusion, then 10 other questions would pop up. It was that good.”

“I thought it existed on the surface, as I said before to a certain degree, but there was just so much subtext going on that I didn't even comprehend the first time I read it,” explained Farrell. “And the facial expressions and all that, I don't know... He's just a very honest guy and was so raw. So raw, I mean, by the time we meet him he's been through this terrible ordeal, this tragic event that takes place that he brings into being, this atrocious act that he commits so he's just incredibly raw and agitated and despairing. Knowing the reason why they're going to Bruges is because of what he's done, so Bruges in itself all around him is a reminder.”

Farrell’s character, Ray, has more than his fair share of inner demons to battle and is extremely conflicted. But Farrell thinks his character’s inner conflicts reflect the reality of being alive. We each have our own issues to deal with, though it's likely most people will never have to go through the turmoil Ray does after a hit goes bad. “I think the majority of us do really, to be honest,” said Farrell. “I mean, maybe good old Deepak [Chopra] doesn't. God bless him if he doesn't, but I've met some very peaceful Buddhists in my time. But I think the majority of us as human beings have a certain amount of conflicts that resonate within us to varying degrees.”

“Ray certainly has a load of conflict. In a way, he's not fully formed. He's still like a big lump of plasticine that is just very pliable. He's trying to figure out what shape he's going to take and how much of that will be based on the actions that he's put into play and how much of that can possibly be as a result of the universe. How much that does affect our existence is another matter. I think he's asking questions and searching more than he ever did before, based on what he's been through.”

Page 2: Colin Farrell on Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Being a Tourist in Bruges

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