If somebody harmed someone we loved, we’d go on the war path until the perpetrators got what they deserved. Okay so we can’t actually take the law into our hands, but it’s nice to see it unfold on the big screen. The difference between normal tales of revenge and Dead Man Down is the sweet love story in the middle of all the bloodshed. Colin Farrell is our main player and he talks to us about being a stoic character in such a dark world.
This movie has revenge, love, forgiveness and second chances. What drew you to Victor? How did you get into his psyche? It’s different than what we’ve seen recently in Seven Psychopaths.
Colin Farrell: It was all on the page. The character was very clearly defined by the recent past that he’d experienced. The amount of loss that had been afflicted upon him. He was somebody that I felt was mentally a really good man and probably would have been an amazing father and an amazing husband and quite simply, good with his hands. [He] might have been able to make a set of shelves, looking forward to the day that his own daughter could humiliate him with her own intellect. You know, that kind of thing. Humiliate is a strong word but you know what I mean. Everything that he loves in the world is taken from him. Everything that he identifies his life with. Rage and regret and the desire for revenge and violence takes over his life. I don’t want to say it was a fun character because he wasn’t having a great time, poor Victor. Through the introduction of my character to Noomi’s [Rapace] character’s life and vice versa, there was a certain tenderness that obviously was always there that begins to kind of come alive, which is a dangerous thing for him of course. He knows himself that violence is not the path to follow, that revenge is not the path to follow, but he thinks through this stoic way of thinking that it’s his job to right the scales of injustice. He understands that there’s no such thing at the end of the day. One has to take grief.
Colin Farrell: I knew their work [because] I had seen The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo then I’d have seen the film We Shall Overcome, which is a really beautiful film and so significantly different in its ability, its look, the themes it explores. Then there’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo that I just thought well wow… to be able to have two kind of diametrically opposed films and it was oppressive. So I was really looking forward to working with him [Niels]. He was the first person I met on the project and Noomi I’ve seen in a lot of stuff and I just loved the idea of working with her. She’s amazing.
The character of Victor reminded us of the heroes in old Westerns who are influenced in one way or another by a lady to change for the better.
Colin Farrell: Sure! In Alexander I had a line… I said something along the lines of ‘Women bring men home, I have no such feeling,’ as Alexander had another moment of melancholy trying to figure out why he was not returning from whence he came and why he had to go on forth. It’s kind of a reflection of his marriage and his relationship with his mother fracturing and all. I find that’s very true and I think that he wasn’t just talking about women bringing men home geographically but women bringing men to the best parts of themselves. I think that’s maybe what you’re referring to as well. Look, men exist in a world a lot of the time of alpha competition. I’m a man and I’ve been there and I’ve felt it. I’ve felt threatened and I’ve felt the desire to push. All those things you feel you don’t have to react but then there’s a strong thing in the back of your f–king head that pushes you to. But I think that for me, women sometimes expose men to the best aspects of themselves that they may not get exposed to regularly.
When you do a performance without a lot of dialogue, do you hope the directors help you, do you prefer those kinds of performances? Are they challenging?
Colin Farrell: Not really. I don’t know what I’d prefer really. I kind of like trying it all… Like in Horrible Bosses, that was so much more fun than the character Victor. [Horrible Bosses] was fun and the movement creates more movement so with [character] Bobby Pellitt I was able to riff more. This guy [Victor], he’s about as laconic as I’ve ever played and he keeps his cards very closely to his chest and words are… I’ve met men like him that don’t say much. But if you need them or if you’re in an jam, they’ll be there. But they don’t say much and they don’t feel the need to say much. I think for Victor I think it’s a cultural thing but also words are potentially dangerous for Victor. If he talks a lot maybe he says something inconsistent with what he said six months ago. Not that he doesn’t have the faith to believe that it won’t happen but just in case, the less he can say, the better.
So you believe this is a love story more than a revenge tale?
Colin Farrell: I felt like it was a love story. I thought the most beautiful thing about the script was the relationship between them. The thing I was excited the most about is the relationship between Beatrice and Victor and how they affected each other. It was the best thing about this film.
You have two really powerful dynamics going on with F. Murray Abraham and Dominic Cooper. How did you men go about establishing your relationships?
Colin Farrell: F. Murray Abraham represents the old country and Dominic’s character represents the new world that hasn’t sinned yet. Even though Dominic’s character is part of the gang there’s a sweetness and an innocence to him in a sense of brotherly protection that Victor feels for him that he doesn’t want to feel but he can’t help it because they’ve been in each other’s company for so long. F. Murray Abraham represents old blood and he represents dry land.
It seems like you’re in a creative sweet spot. Are you really happy with what’s happening with your career?
Colin Farrell: I’m really enjoying the work. I feel like there’s a certain amount of diversity in what I’m trying to do. It’s not consciously where I’m like, ‘I want to do something different or look what I can do!’ But it’s really fun doing different stuff. It’s about make-believe. It’s like why not make-believe in as many different colors as possible. So I’m enjoying the work, I really am enjoying myself.
Dead Man Down is out in theaters today.