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Alexander - Colin Farrell Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. Did you have any reservations about playing such a legend?
A.
No, I had no reservations at all. The first time I heard about the gig my agent told me that Oliver Stone was making a film about Alexander the Great, but I knew very little about the character. I went along, I had a dinner with Oliver, you might have read the story cos some of those things are just... when you get used to talking about something for so long you tell the same fucking story over and over again. What happened was I was in Daredevil, I was a total skinhead, I had a goatee, I had a day off and I was in the pub for four hours with my mates, and then went for dinner with the wonderful genius of American cinema, Mr Oliver Stone, who I was dying to meet and whose work I have loved for a long time, and I was very drunk.
So I don't think I was what he considered to be the regal form of the king of macedonia. The golden god.
But I got the chance to read for it, I only read the script after I got offered the part, and luckily it was one of the most amazing things I had ever read. You know, the film is a draining experience to watch. It's loaded with mythology, icons, symbolism, belief, faith, destiny.... huge questions and it's filled with these things.
Friends of mine that have seen it a second time, you know, tell me 'Jesus Christ, man, it wasn't exactly Gladiator!' [laughs]
I love Gladiator, you know, but it was a draining read, the script. It took me four hours to read the thing. It usually takes me between an hour or two. But I sat down, I took my time for four hours, because with the film you have the visuals to aid you in trying to understanding or interpret the story, but his script was insane. And the journey of Alexander as a man, as a human being, as a force of nature, was just one of the most heartbreaking and incredible and inspiring things I'd ever read.
So to fucking cut a long story very short and to finish this fucking answer, I jumped at the chance to work with him. I'd work with him in a heartbeat again; I wouldn't even have to read a script, so if he ever wanted to work with me again then boom, I'm there!

Q. Colin, as the veteran of more than one movie boot camp, how did Captain Dale Dye compare to previous military advisers?
A.
Um, it was the first time I'd worked with Dale. I'd worked with Michael Stokey twice on Hart's War and Tigerland. Great man, yeah he's tough. He's a marine and he fucking plays it. The whole thing, like you see in the movies. He's very smart and he pushes you greatly.
It's very important to have this type of experience for a few reasons. We have to figure out how to put on film a strategy or a tactic that wasn't done before - you know, the Phalax, a very specific way that the Macedonians fought.
It also helped to bring us up to a level of fitness - three weeks in the sun, minimum amount of food, one meal a day, up at 6am, jog three or four kilometres, and Q&A every night with Captain Dye, where we'd all sit around a fire and talk about what it meant to be a soldier and to be part of a unit. Because actors, in essence, are individualists, they don't really work as a unit, they kind of take care of themselves, and it was important to understand the mentality of the soliders, to understand that men had to work as a unit, and it brought all of us to together.
And all of the lads will tell you that they were in great debt to Captain Dye because he's brilliant. What he does is brilliant.

Q. But how do you respond to that type of military style when you first meet him?
A.
Look, it's like a game, you play along with it - 'yes, sir, captain, lieutenant'. Cos you want to do a good job. You can dick around and say 'fuck you, I'm not doing this', you know, but you may as well go home, there's no point. You've got three weeks to try and get as close as possible to a stage, and represent men that have been fighting all their lives, that were brought up hunting, who were riding horses since they were three, were fighting battles from the age of maybe 14.
So the smart move is on just doing the gig.

Q. With so much source material when you're playing a historical character, where does that end and where do you start layering on the humanity? Is it a help or a hinderance?
A.
Both. It starts off as a help, I think. There's a lot of stuff to reference in respect to literature and so on and so forth. Oliver took more than a page out of Professor Fox's book and all the actors on the set had a copy of the book, Alexander the Great.
But there were so many conflicting theories as well. At the end of the day, there were so many conflicting opinions that you just had to go back to Rob's book and particularly Oliver's script, because that was what we were dramatising.
And yeah, there are certain historical points and events that took place, and we know when some of them took place, and where, but the humanity of the characters, and putting a soul to each skeleton was all there in his writing.

Q. One of the love stories in Alexander seems to be between yourself and your mother, played by Angelina Jolie, which is very strange. How did you approach that?
A.
I never really felt any awareness of any sexual energy really at all, as hard as it seems to believe. There was a very, very strong bond between myself and Angie and Oliver, in these two scenes. There was an extremely strong bond between mother and son, as there is a lot of the time - as relationships between mothers and sons can be a very funky one at the best of times.
I think we all, at times, have to leave the roost and leave our mothers and find ourselves, so that then we can go back to them. I did that when I went to Australia, because the weight of that love is very hard and it's very hard for you to find your own way in the world when you are trying to impress that woman, when you are aware of that woman's feelings, or whether you are hurting that woman, or worrying that woman, so there was a very strong love between the two of them and a love that drove Alexander in many different ways. It drove him in a very positive way. She was a very weighty woman to be around, you know, and I think that's part of the reason why Alexander never went back to Macedonia.
Plus her involvement, or what was perceived by Alexander as her involvement in the murder of his father - if he had to go back there he would have had to face the music, so he just didn't face the music and he never went home.

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