We’re used to seeing Colin Farrell shooting at bad guys and punching people but his latest endeavour on the big screen sees him taking on a very different role.
Saving Mr Banks tells the story of how Walt Disney convinced the author of Mary Poppins, PL Travers, to give her words up to the world of film.
Colin stars alongside Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks in this charming yet emotionally-charged tale about a young girl who tries to make amends through her writing and we sat down with him recently to get the low down on his role in it.
What attracted you to the role of Mr Travers?
I loved the script, it’s that simple really. I’ve read quite a few scripts through the years and few, if any of them, have touched me as deeply as this one did. It really did. When I read this one I just found it so moving and I thought the character was just gorgeous and was very unique, and something I hadn’t done on film before so I was chomping at the bit to get the chance to do it. And it nearly didn’t work out. There were some scheduling issues but I am so glad it did.
How did you find getting to grips with such a flawed character?
There’s a character in A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. He’s a father and he’s such a gorgeous father when he’s with his kids but he’s afflicted by this deep abiding sense of melancholy and self-pity and he has these dreams, these grand lofty aspirations, to be something that he’s never going to be so he’s constantly set up for failure. And you couldn’t call him a good father. I could be talking about my character now, they are so similar. You couldn’t call him a good father but you’d feel bad calling him a bad father because of the way he is with the kids but you can’t, for whatever reason and I don’t have the reason, he can’t make it. It feels like he’s born with a profound sadness.
Did you shed a tear when reading the script? (We know we did watching the film!)
Like I said, you read a lot of scripts but it’s seldom that you laugh out loud or have a tear. I certainly welled up reading this, I really did. I just thought it was so tragic and yet it didn’t feel, for a second, that it was as manipulative as the same story could have been if someone else had written it. It felt very respectful of people’s pain and very respectful of the journey of a human being from childhood to adulthood and then when I saw the film and that bit at the end… I had a little tear.
Your character has a beautiful relationship with his daughter Ginty (played by Annie Rose Buckley). Did that come easily?
Kind of, it wasn’t like they stuck us in a room together… She was really easy going and it was a really sweet shoot because form start to finish its heart was in the right place. Getting on with her was a dream. We had a good few laughs doing it and while all the dialogue for the scenes was written out, the blockage for them wasn’t so we got to have a little fun for example the scene in the garden with the chickens and clothes line.
And how do you think fans of Mary Poppins are going to find the film?
I don’t know. People always find issue with stuff but I would find it hard to pick too many problems with it. I think it shows that the book was written from a place of even more love than anyone who may have thought in the past that it was purely a piece of fiction written by somebody who loved the character. It’s actually written more from a place of love because the characters and situations were inspired by and compelled the writer to write from the perspective of her childhood. She was trying to fix, through the imagination, the world she couldn’t fix in real life.
Speaking of the musical, did you have a favourite song?
Not really, I wasn’t the biggest fan. That’s not to say I was an un-fan. I was actually obsessed with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
We think this is one of your best roles. Do you feel that’s a fair comment?
I think it’s easily one of the better pieces of work I’ve been involved with. I’d use the whole ‘no comment’ thing if I was in America but as far as my own work goes, I think the film is beautiful and I am genuinely glad to be a part of it. I’ve done a few things that I’ve had to go and promote and it’s been tricky because you’re promoting something that you don’t really believe in and I hope I don’t have to do that again… But this is easy because, if somebody comes in and doesn’t like it, I believe it’s a beautiful story with its heart firmly in the right place.
Last but not least, can you tell us what comes next for you?
I actually have nothing lined up at the moment. I’ll do some more press for this and then go across the pond to relax with the boys (Henry and James).
Disney’s Saving Mr Banks will be released in cinemas nationwide on November 29th.