When Edward Norton pulled out of World War II movie Hart's War, the director enlisted Irish upstart Colin Farrell to fill the void. "If that's part of the reason I got it I couldn't care less," says Colin. "For whatever reason the stars have aligned themselves in the right place at the right time. I'm loving what I'm doing now, so I'm just going to see what happens."
Back in 1999 Colin auditioned for a small Joel Schumacher project called Tigerland
in London. And while he hadn't read the script, the former Ballykissangel
hunk used his charm to good effect and landed himself a callback.
With the help of his sister, Colin video-taped his best Texas drawl after downing a few pints and sent the tape off to the Hollywood heavyweight. A short while later, the Batman Forever
director placed an early-morning call to the actor, saying: "Wanna make a movie?". This was the first step on the road to fame.
And while Tigerland
earned a paltry $140,000 at the US box office, the name Colin Farrell was suddenly on every casting agent's lips.
"It's mad. None of this was planned," says the 5ft 11in actor of his sudden Hollywood stardom. "I always just auditioned for jobs and hoped I did well, so I could move on to the next step. Now I've skipped so many rungs on the ladder, and I'm working with Cruise and Spielberg. It's insane."
Colin was born on March 31, 1976, in Dublin, to Eamon Farrell, a former professional footballer, and his wife Rita. The youngest of four children, he originally planned to follow in his father's tracks, but Colin enjoyed the high life too much and found the idea of rigorous training daunting. Instead, he spent a year travelling Down Under.
Upon returning home he shifted gears, enrolling at the Gaiety School of Drama. But, not a great fan of college, he soon dropped out. Tv and stage roles would follow, most notably at London's famed Donmar Warehouse, where he was spotted by Oscar winner Kevin Spacey
, who earmarked him for a later film. Then Colin made the leap to film and never looked back.
The actor went on to appear in a stream of high-profile flicks, including Minority Report
with Spielberg and Cruise, Phone Booth
playing a role once linked to Jim Carrey
and American Outlaws
, as the famed hero of the American West, Jesse James.
But it was clear the Hollywood scene and fast rise to fame and fortune were taking their toll. He finally checked into a rehabilitation clinic after collapsing at the Miami Vice
wrap party in Uruguay. "I was burning the candle at both ends and the flames met in the middle," he confessed.
On the romance front, Colin shocked close friends when it was reported that he had married 19-year-old English actress Amelia Warner in 2001. Speaking about their relationship later, he commented "too fast, too young" and cleared up rumours about the wedding ceremony.
"We had a ceremony on a beach in Tahiti
that was by no means legal and we knew it wasn't," he explained. "It was just a thing we did on holiday. We went shark feeding and then we did that. We booked them both on the activities desk at the hotel."
He had an intense platonic relationship with Elizabeth Taylor, for the last two years of her life. He later told Ellen DeGeneres: "I just adored her... She was a spectacular, spectacular woman."
In September 2003 Colin became a father following a relationship with model Kim Bordenave. "I'm chuffed and over the moon," enthused the star.
Their son James was followed in 2009 by another child Henry, whose mother is his ex Alicja Bachleda-Curus.
Fatherhood gave the actor a new focus on life. "My priority, first and foremost, is (my children)," he explained. "Talk about falling in love. It's bizarre to fall in love and know it's going to last. That's what it feels like for me – it's like nothing can come between us."