Find us

Colin Farrell Total Recall Interview

Written by Alexander Tucker   // 08/03/2012

Colin FarrellWhat was it about this story, this world, that intrigued you to explore further and be a part of?

Colin Farrell: When I saw the artwork and when I read the script, saw the concept, I went, “This is something I would really love to see, this is a world that a wanted to be taken to as an audience member.” I knew that the scope of this was massive, it’s a huge film. Just the pallet that the story takes place on, the canvas that the story takes place on. And I knew that it was going to be that kind of gargantuan thing when I met Len Wiseman and he showed me some the drawings, some of his conceptual art. The world that the story exists in is something that I really wanted to be a part of, when I saw the conceptual drawings I was really excited. And I haven’t seen the film, I’ll see it on the night of the premier. I mean, I saw a really rough cut, but I haven’t seen the film with the effect shots in. But I can’t wait to see it, it looked amazing.


Besides the physical aspect, how was it developing this character emotionally and intellectually? I know as a part of your development with this character, you slept overnight in the Quaid Apartment set.

Colin Farrell: Yeah. This character, this story, it brings up issues of identity, ego, and super-ego – it’s fun to wade into that psychological pond a bit. It’s a common story, a man who feels that he isn’t living the life he should be living. A man experiencing some discontent with his lot in life. But he gets a rude awakening, which is that he really isn’t living the life he should be living. Quaid has no idea who he is, beyond a deeply cellular or emotional level. The whole movie is him trying to figure out who is the real Quaid. Sleeping overnight in the apartment set, I just wanted to see what it was like to have an evening and then wake up in the morning in that space. It was lovely, actually (laughs). There were just oceans of questions to be asked about our characters.


How did you find the physical nature of the role. Also, going toe-to-toe with Kate Beckinsale…. 

Colin Farrell: That was fun, the trickiest part was kissing her, with her handsome director husband by the monitor (laughs). That was the tricky part, one of the more uncomfortable things I’ve experiences in 15 years of making films (laughs). But the fighting was fun, we got in good shape and we choreographed it to the final detail so she knew all my moves and I knew all her moves, it was fun. With the training, I got to Toronto about a month before we started shooting. I worked with Jeff Imada first, who I’ve worked with before, he’s a wonderful stunt co-ordinator and martial artist. So I worked with him, I worked with Andy Gill, I worked with Gabe Nunez – who’s a guy who has stunt doubled me a couple of times. We did Parkour, the urban sport where you use whatever practical pieces of the street and structures that are around for efficient movement. We did a little bit of that with Gabe, that was fun. We had about a month before shooting, because we knew it would be a long shoot, a six month shoot. It was very physical, the whole thing – in a good way. I enjoyed it. You get schooled when you come to work with them. You get practical lessons that you’d never need to learn, if you weren’t doing this job. I love that.


Colin Farrell




With the hover cars using a mixture of practical and the virtual effects, what was that like being bashed about?

Colin Farrell: Literally they would slam into each other at 40 mph with us on top. They had two drivers in these cage cars, in each car, one driver operated the model hover car that was on top so that it moved. Then the other driver operated the car beneath that was driving it around. So we had two of those cars slamming into each other, and I must say, I wasn’t at my butchest those days (laugh). But I’m glad they did it that way. It was great fun, and there are some real reactions they got in there. There is definitely a texture of reality and sound and sky that they couldn’t have put in later.

Much of your immediate environments in the film were practical sets, how did you find that?

Colin Farrell: The sets were amazing. People have been asking, “What was it like working with green screen? Did you have to use your imagination to imagine stuff that wasn’t actually there?” And I’d be like, “No,” because all the sets I shot in, they were sets. All the scenes you see in the film, the immediate environment that you see me in was always there on the day. All the huge cityscapes and the magnificent shots of The Fall and all that, that’s all green screen. But that was always in the distance, anything I was working on was practical. The furniture was there, the walls were there, they really built some amazing sets. It was some of the most incredibly carpentered, finely detailed work that I’ve ever seen on a film set. It’s just magnificent stuff. You can go as close as you want to any product that’s placed in the background of a shot, and it’ll look real. I think that completeness pays off – it has a feeling to it, an energy that’s pervasive. It just makes the film feel more real.

How did you find the experience of working on ‘Total Recall’ with director Len Wiseman?

Colin Farrell: Len was hugely impressive and really clever. Anytime you’re around somebody who is at the helm of a creative piece of work and  you get a sense that they understand that they’re on the cusp of something, or that they’re at a point in their lives, their career, where they’re getting an opportunity to make their mark, and they’re really hungry to make their mark….that’s cool. I kind of want to align myself with that fella or that woman. And that’s what I felt from Len, he really seemed to be caught in a sense of how big of a monster this was. With the amount of pressure, based on the scale alone, but also based on the source material of Phillip K. Dick, Paul Verhoeven’s film – which is deeply cherished by many, to this. It was bold, it was a bold choice.

Look out for another interview with Colin Farrell for the film in August.


Similar posts