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Hey all, cos the weather wasn’t warm enough, we found ourselves the same room once again with Colin Farrell.  Along with director Neil Jordan, the Irish heartthrob sat down to talk about their new movie Ondine and other fractured fairy tales, as well as staying off the Heinekens and being too effing hairy for Japan.

Dig it!


Neil Jordan and Colin Farrell


The Lady Miz Diva:  Mr. Jordan, Ondine is your version of a mermaid story, which shares a similar mythical quality to films like The Company of Wolves {1984} and Breakfast on Pluto {2005}.  What is your fascination with fractured fairy tales?

Neil Jordan:  Yahh…

Colin Farrell: That’s what we used to call them.

NJ:  That’s my life…

Both together: Fractured fairy tales! {laugh}

NJ:  The reason I like fairy tales -- it sounds stupid, but you know even when I was doing Mona Lisa {1986}, Bob Hoskins kept relating his character to the Frog and the Prince.  I like characters who don’t fully understand themselves.  I like stories that don’t fully understand themselves.  I’ve never made an entirely realistic movie ever in my life, y’know?  I suppose I was told too many myths and legends and fairy tales by my father when I was a kid.  My father was a national school teacher and he used to terrify the life out of me.  It’s common; everybody in Ireland comes from some weird rural background, but he told me a lot of ghost stories that I’ve probably never recovered from, so it must’ve been from that.


LMD:  So how did you apply those myths and legends into this film?

NJ:  Well, I asked myself the question, you know, can a group of real characters who live in a incredibly beautiful landscape, but they live real, hardscrabble, poverty-stricken lives; if a series of coincidences happen in that world, would a believable fairy tale emerge from it?  That was the kind of question I asked myself when I was writing the script and that was the way I shot it, really.  I wanted to see the landscape itself tell the fairly tale, especially without any digital interference or without any kind of art direction interference, and that’s how I did it in the end. 


LMD:  Much of the beauty of the film comes from the collaboration with your cinematographer, Mr. Doyle.

NJ:  Well, Christopher is a very interesting man.  Have you come across him?  Yah, yah… he should stay off the Heineken, though.  No, I didn’t mean that, I didn’t say that…

CF:  I should tell you it was more from the “interesting man” comment than the Heinekens.

NJ:  I did say to him that every movie you do seems to have a different aesthetic; the Wong Kar-Wai ones that are full of neon and the stuff that you’ve done with Gus Van Sant, and he said, “That’s because each of them demands a different aesthetic.”  I was kind of probing him, “How are you going to do this movie if we work together?”  And we went down there and he’s the most amazing chooser of stocks that you’d ever come across.   I mean, he does all these tests and you look at them at different exposures, you know?  But he knows the camera; he knows shutter speeds, he knows all of that stuff.   He kind of stuck himself, it’s almost like he put on a wet suit and got in the water for the entire movie.  So, if your cameraman is willing to do that, you do get this beautiful… the natural world is so present to the lens that it becomes its own thing.


LMD:  Can you talk about your female leads in the film, both Alicja Bachleda, who plays the mermaid in question and Alison Barry, who played Colin’s daughter Annie?

CF:  Go for it.

NJ:  {To Colin} She asked you.

CF:  They’re your leads.

NJ:  Okay, okay okay…  It’s hard to put together independent movies at that moment, you know what I mean?  I mean to say, ‘Okay, you’ve got Robert Duvall and you’ve got Johnny Depp, can we also have Jennifer Aniston?’

CF:  They do say that, you know.

NJ:  ‘… or we can’t sell it in Hong Kong,’ or somewhere.  So I cast Colin and they give the project to these international sales companies.  They do what they call “running numbers.”

CF:  I can’t imagine I’m too big in Hong Kong, either. 

NJ:  You’re too hairy for Japan.

CF:  I’m too hairy for Japan…

NJ:  But people would say, “If you have Colin Farrell and so and so…”

CF:  I would say, ‘Well, it’s too fuckin’ popular, already.’  There’s an entire race of people that don’t find him funny cos he’s too fuckin’ hairy to be funny. {laughs}

NJ:  I wanted to find for Alicja’s part, she’s from Eastern Europe; she should be unknown cos I want to see somebody I’ve never seen before on the screen, which very rarely happens unless you cast kids, y’know?  So, I saw a lot of Eastern European actresses and Alicja came in one day and she gave this reading, she read the part and I thought, ‘Okay, she’s really making this work.’  It was really interesting.  And then I watched her work and I thought she was a really great actress.  She had a very difficult part to play because she was playing the interpretation that other people put on to her character and that’s a very difficult thing to do.  I suppose that you can’t let it rip at any stage, in a way.


LMD:  And working with your onscreen daughter, Colin?

CF:  Ah, Alison, she was lovely, yeah.  God, she was really smart, really bright, and really kind and loads of fun to be around.  And some of my favorite scenes in the film are the scenes that are just Syracuse and Annie while she’s getting dialysis, and there’s a real kind of simplicity to them -- an unspoken depth of love.  She lacked ambition completely.  She’d never done {a film}.  She didn’t have stage parents.  She wasn’t somebody that was pushed into, or even pulled into, or even suggested toward.  It was somehow {to Jordan} you found her, but she didn’t come in for the audition though, did she?  After a schoolteacher said to you, “I have this girl,” she’d never thought of it, anyway, so she didn’t come with any kind of ambitious drive, y’know?

NJ:  She didn’t go to a drama school or anything like that.

CF:  No, none of that.  So she was just really, really pure and had no habit.  She was lovely.


~ The Lady Miz Diva

April 28th, 2010




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Exclusive photos by LMD

Film stills courtesy of

Magnolia Pictures




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