Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are two peas in a Hollywood pod: Both accomplished actors, both Irish, and both part of a great on-screen duo that falls somewhere between Butch and Sundance, and Thelma and Louise.
And they were both at the Golden Globes earlier this month, where Farrell won best actor for a musical or comedy. And after the ceremony, both were down with COVID.
“Jesus, that was a rough week,” Farrell said after coming out of isolation, for their first TV interview coming out of quarantine.
“Yeah, now it’s really nice to get out-and-about,” Gleeson said. “I went for a swim this morning, which was just the most soul-liberating experience.”
It’s been a busy season for the pair, since their latest film became a worldwide sensation. “The Banshees of Inisherin” is about two men on a windswept Irish island whose friendship is coming apart.
Watch a scene featuring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson in “The Banshees of Inisherin”:
Their lives are deeply intertwined, but “Banshees” is not a buddy film any more than “Titanic” is about a pleasure cruise. Their breakup is both hilarious, and heartrending.
Smith asked, “I’m curious with the process – did you have a discussion about maybe we shouldn’t speak to each other throughout this film?”
“We touched on it; I was a bit nervous about that,” Farrell said. “Just because I love the man, and I was nervous about, ‘Jeez, are we gonna have to give each other space?’ And then when we saw each other for the first time in a couple of years to start this, we just said, ‘Do you need a bit of … Are we going to do a little …’ And we looked at each other, ‘Well, achh, naah, I don’t need it.'”
Farrell and Gleeson have what looks like an easy chemistry that comes across on-screen. Their first project together, as hit men in 2008’s “In Bruges,” got rave reviews.
The 67-year old Gleeson, a former teacher who only started acting full-time at age 34, has played roles as diverse as “Mad-Eye” Moody in the Harry Potter series; a cook in “Paddington 2”; and himself, as a sketch-comedy host on “Saturday Night Live.”
He told Smith Farrell had talked him into it: “Well, he did and he didn’t. Like, he said, ‘Look, do what you want, but here’s my take on this.’ And I would take that seriously. Look, I like clowning around. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a thrill about it. It’s a kind of a white-knuckle ride. So, thanks for that, Colin!'”
“It’s not a cut, it’s a gash!”: Brendan Gleeson “Saturday Night Live”:
At 46, Farrell has been at this a bit longer, doing everything from fighting Tom Cruise in “Minority Report,” to playing the Penguin in “The Batman,” underneath makeup that almost completely obscured his leading-man looks.
But as different as their careers and their lives have been, they were friends from the jump.
Why? “I don’t know. It was just easy,” Farrell said. “The first time I met him was in a room at the Chelsea Hotel. I had recently put the jar down, right? I was sober about a year-and-a-half or something like that.
And he opened the door, I went into the room, we sat down, and I know that this man would like a pint every now and then. And I certainly had a reputation, and the reputation now that I was recently sober. He knew that.
“Anyway, he said, ‘Would you have a drink?’ … And he went to a minibar that looked like it hadn’t worked since the ’50s, and he opened it up and he pulled out two bottles of water and he went, ‘Still or sparkling?’ And just in that moment, I swear to God, it’s the sweetest thing.”
Farrell turned to Gleeson: “Did I ever tell you that? I mean, you were there, of course. Did I ever tell you that I noticed that?”
But in that moment, Farrell said, “The simplicity of that gesture told me there is a man that’ll look after you. There’s a man that’ll take care of you. There’s a man that considers people.”
And at the risk of getting all mushy here, Gleeson told us that Farrell strikes him as a true gentleman, the kind of guy who helps ladies in long dresses up the stairs at award shows.
Gleeson said, “Well, it’s just generally with the people around him, obviously with his children, with me, with Jennifer Coolidge walking upstairs!”
“That’s a cheap shot. That was only to get close for her,” Farrell laughed. “I was more about me than about her, let’s be honest! I was accused of elbowing some man out of the way!”
“Oh, God, no, no. But that’s who you are,” Gleeson said. “I have known a lot of kind men in my life. I’ve been lucky about that. You know, my father was a kind man, and I knew kind friends who were there for you. I don’t find it odd, but I knew immediately – I knew immediately with him. So, that’s why the friendship lasted, because he’s somebody who considers people to an extraordinary degree.”
“Only because I’m one of them!” Farrel interjected. “There’s no escaping, only because I’m a person!”
And come March, Farrell might be a person with an Oscar, and he might not be alone. Both he and Gleeson were nominated for “Banshees of Inisherin,” along with co-stars Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon, and director Martin McDonough.
Farrell said, “People have said to me that ‘Banshees’ just floored them, just took them days, and they’ve been a bit haunted by it.”
Smith asked, “What do you think when people say that to you?”
“Ah, it’s very humbling. yeah, because I’ve done plenty of things that people haven’t connected to. You don’t always go to work and create stuff that people connect to. It’s not a science. If we knew how to get it right every time, every film would work on every level. It would work for the audience, it would work for the critics, and it would work commercially. That’s magic. That’s money in the bank, you know? You can’t expect that all the time. So, the fact that it’s arrived on this one is fairly cool!”
So, while “Banshees” may very well rake in a few more awards, it’s already given these two a gift.
Farrell said, “This is a very sweet time. I get see him, get to spend time with Kerry and Martin, that we wouldn’t otherwise. So, in that way, that’s the kind of window I climb through to enjoy this whole experience rather than taking it too serious.”
“Instead of focusing on the horse race or who’s nominated for what and all of that?” asked Smith.
“Yeah, exactly,” he said. “Just to be sharing it with the other lads and whoever is around, and the films and the filmmakers. I still get giddy about the whole thing anyway. Do you know what I mean? Do I need it? No. But is it a bit of crack? Yeah!
“It’s a moment in time, and then move on.”
To watch a trailer for “The Banshees of Inisherin” click on the video player below
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Story produced by John D’Amelio. Editor: Steven Tyler.