Farrell aims straight for the heart

A dapper Colin at the London premiere

Shelley Marsden was at the UK premiere of Colin Farrell’s time-travel love story – and it seems he’s hung up the Hollywood bad-boy cap for good…

IRISH heartthrob Colin Farrell and his gorgeous co-star Jessica Brown Findlay both walked the red carpet last Thursday, the night before Valentine’s, for A New York Winter’s Tale (or Winter’s Tale in the US).

The stars, who play the leads in the film, based on Mark Helprin’s 1983 novel and the directing debut of Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, posed beside a huge heart made of red roses at Kensington’s Odeon cinema.

The supernatural romance is about Peter Lake [Farrell], an Irish petty thief in 1916 New York who tries to evade the wrath of a scary Irish gangster Pearly Soames, played by Russell Crowe.

Farrell’s loveable Irish rogue charms rich but terminally ill heiress Beverley

While doing so, attempting to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side, he falls head over heels with a filthy rich heiress Beverly Penn [Brown Findlay] who he discovers is terminally ill and dying of tuberculosis. But when Peter discovers he has the gift of reincarnation, he sets out on a mission to save her – and of course, there are a few steamy scenes between them thrown in.

Dublin-born Farrell, 37, looked slick in a black suit over a grey shirt while his 24 year old co-star, known as Lady Sybil role in Downtown Abbey and then for her part in BBC’s Labyrinth, shivered but looked every inch the star in a puffball strapless Dior dress.

The father-of-two said recently that he doesn’t want to do “any more films with guns”, so we shouldn’t expect any more Robo Cop style stuff. Of late, his offerings have had mixed reviews, though he did receive acclaim last year as P.L. Travers’ endearing alcoholic father in Saving Mr. Banks.

Farrell is clearly ready to try something new. You’ll not often see him playing the romantic hero, but it was the script that convinced him.

Col and Jessica on the red carpet

He told the Irish World: “It was just… unabashedly sentimental and sweet, unlike anything I’d ever read. I loved its own lack of shame, at its romantic pretext, really. I loved the time period, everything. It’s almost naïve, a film that really wears its heart on its sleeve.”

“Akiva embued the script with a lot of his own experiences of love and loss. He wrote the script during a period of his life when he’d lost somebody very close to him. We all knew that, so it offered a deeper level of experience to the script, you know?”

The film preaches that love can work miracles and change the world – does Farrell believe it can do that? “Of course. The world would sink under the weight of its more destructive aspects if it wasn’t for love – whether it’s a love between friends, towards your children, whatever it may be. I totally believe in the, haha… the power of love.”

Joking, he said he prepared for the role of a thief by taking a step back into the “avenues of time, the dark days of thievery when I used to steal Garbage Pail stickers in Dublin when I was twelve, rebel that I was…”

Russell Crowe is a menacing figure in the film, but Farrell revealed he had little time with the Australian actor during shooting: “I wish I’d had more to do with Russell. We did a fight scene and beat each other up – well, Russell beat me up. He choreographed the fight scene, which is why I lost.”

And what did Farrell make of Crowe’s take on an Irish villain? “He was really bold, he really went for it. The dialect he landed on was really bass and ugly and guttural. It really complimented his character.”

Speaking of his stunning co-star Jessica, Farrell said: “She’s so special, such a cool woman. Meeting her was one of the things I’ll take away from this movie. She’s wonderful in the film, but for me more importantly she’s just a fun, kind person to be around. For this film, maybe more than a lot of others I’ve done actually, I needed a fellow lead I could have faith in, and I trusted Jessica completely.”


A New York Winter’s Tale is in cinemas now.



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