Jamie Lee Curtis and Colin Farrell are two of Hollywood’s most charismatic figures, and for both actors, magnetism can sometimes disguise contemplative depths. curtis, who played a ruthless tax inspector opposite michelle yeoh in “everything at once everywhere,” and farrell, who duos as an irish farmer who has a fight with his best friend (brendan gleeson) in ” the banshees of inisherin,” spoke about the complex roles they took on this year. In both cases, deep introspection and lessons learned in recovery informed their work.
jamie lee curtis: ireland is an incredibly friendly country.
Colin Farrell: It’s amazing. I have lived here in Los Angeles for 16 or 17 years. I am raising my two children here. the. means more to me than I thought this city ever would. but when I go home, it makes sense to me in a way that no other place would have the business make sense to me. if I’m in LA and I say, “I’m going home,” I drop it about two octaves. that place is deeper in me.
curtis: and you dropped it in this movie. you have to go home.
farrell: yes, I did. I have gone home once every three years to make a movie there. where were you born?
curtis: born and raised right here in the city of angels. I went to boarding school once. Connecticut. one year. error.
farrell: I was in boarding school for a year and a half. mistake, mistake you were half a year smarter than me.
curtis: i used to play joni mitchell’s “california” in my bedroom and sob. because when you’re from somewhere, it’s you.
farrell: it’s like there’s a lot of my residual energy in there. the place formed me and sent me into the world.
curtis: the film is very much about ireland. It’s such an Irish movie. it is so deep and exquisite.
farrell: the movie is about two friends who fight. literally, a boy says to another boy: “I don’t want to be your friend anymore”. in today’s culture you don’t bother to text, I think kids call it “ghost” you just delete the person. hard to do that on an island where there is a pub and a church.
I understood my character, pádraic, and where it comes from. But I felt such deep sympathy for the struggle of Brendan’s character and for all he had to do to find this peace, this solitude, to be able to face his own mortality.
curtis: you’re younger than me. I am in that place right now where time is much shorter than what I have left on earth. it’s just shorter. and that resonated so deeply. Because ultimately you’re going to have to tell some people, “I don’t want to be your friend anymore.”
farrell: anyway, enough about my stuff, tell me about yours.
curtis: no, no, no, no. I want to talk about this
farrell: you’re the boss, we set it up today. should be lying down could we get a sun lounger here?
curtis: you and I have been doing this for a long time. and we’ve both had a lot of focus on us at times. and then a lot of focus on other parts of us at times. and then a long time away and not playing in the game. and it’s a game I don’t give a shit but here we are.
and why are we sitting here today? because you did that job in that movie. i did this work on film with the daniels. and i don’t know how a movie made two years ago in simi valley, california, in 38 days, in an abandoned office building, has landed me in this chair in front of you, more than you sneak out and make a movie so deeply Irish, that’s such a beautiful, intensely calm conversational film about human emotions…
farrell: well, yours is exactly the same: the consciousness of the ticking of the clock. and as long as the clock has enough wind to go from 11 to 12, there is the possibility of reversing course.
curtis: so there’s redemption. and a reconciliation. and a cure.
farrell: it’s so beautiful. because the only two things I know for sure are that we are going to die and we are going to make big mistakes. if we atone for our mistakes.
curtis: did you know that before you got sober?
farrell: no. he had suspicions, before he was sober, of how painful life could be. but he didn’t have the ability to sustain that without being self-destructive and without living in it. I don’t live in it now. I feel these things we’re talking about, sometimes. and i regard life greatly at times. and other times, I’m as frivolous as when I was 6 on a good day.
I want to know a little about what your film meant to you.
curtis: daniel kwan has spoken about the origins of the film. and she talked about our phones and the society we live in, which is this digital input: in a second, we’re looking at the catastrophe of the nightclub shooting last night. and then with a flick of our finger, it’s a cat video. and with a flick of our finger, it’s politics and twitter. and then the amount of information that we are processing as human beings now, demanding it from our brain…
farrell: they transposed that chaos, that kind of instant turmoil…
curtis: …and I found the center. which is love, kindness, family, forgiveness, living with regret. we all live with regret.
farrell: I thought it was one of the better written and acted scenes. two small animated plasticine rocks talking to each other.
curtis: I don’t think they were lively, mate.
farrell: were they clay?
curtis: I think they were rocks.
farrell: but then ultimately the tension that was heard at the end was one of simplicity, of redemption, of forgiveness. to get over regret, I guess, you have to forgive yourself; but if you live in it that long, it can almost become a sin against yourself, depending on how it’s articulated. everyone got a second chance.
curtis: these two movies are about the human condition. and here we are, sitting in velvet chairs in a faux mid-century coffee shop talking to each other. and there are actors running down hollywood boulevard, very close to here, trying to get a part.
farrell: three spidermans. ninety-nine percent of us are unemployed.
curtis: I’m unemployed today. I like to tell people that I am an independent actor, which means that I am an unemployed actor.
farrell: if someone says, “I have a script,” I say, “I’m close.”
curtis: but aren’t you going to play penguin?
curtis: well, that’s a job.
farrell: I did it in a movie. I hope to do it for television in February or March. then I’ll be employed.
curtis: I don’t have a job. I don’t have anything.
farrell: do you have any thoughts on the legacy? what does the legacy mean to you on your journey?
curtis: I think about it a lot. Being sober is going to be a legacy, for sure. because I am stopping what has been a generational issue in my biological family. It’ll be the best I do, if I can stay sober. because generations of people have had their lives ruled and ruined by alcoholism and drug addiction. for me, sobriety first. always.
farrell: the only reason art exists is because it is an expression of the human condition. and no matter what blessings I have or what riches I experience in my life, I have no more and no less of the human condition than the gentleman who is living without a roof over his head. we are in exactly the same place internally.
curtis: and that’s the gift of sobriety, is that the rules apply to you as they apply to other people. that is the legacy: make friends and love your people very well. and bringing art here. I have seen “tár”. and although she is a complicated character, lydia tár, the music through which she is communicating was written a long time ago and still is. . .
farrell: . . . resonates.
curtis: . . . it moves us and that is the beauty of art.
farrell: but as picturesque as it is, life is the great art, isn’t it? I love my children with the heart of an artist, a heart that is open, that is not afraid of pain, that aspires to joy, not with a clenched fist, not with a white knuckle, but with an open hand. no one can tell another person what is and what is not art. some critics do, and that’s their way. good luck to them. but art is everywhere.
curtis: aren’t we lucky?
farrell: crazy lucky.
curtis: are you an intellectual actor?
farrell: no. I don’t like to talk about it much.
curtis: and you just do the work.
farrell: I do the work myself. I do my work in the hotel room and in my bed at night and I go on hikes and I think and I find a piece of music that moves me. and then I hear that for the movie.
curtis: give me a piece of music for this movie.
farrell: it’s beautiful. it was an accident that he is an Irish composer. patrick cassidy is his name. there is the acceptance of sadness, not just the presence of sadness, not the recognition of sadness, but the acceptance of it as part of our life. I heard that quite a lot. but sometimes you hear something so much that you can feel him start to lose his voice inside. so you have to stop.
curtis: had no music. I know many women like Deirdre Beaubeirdre.
farrell: who are they? how do they present themselves?
curtis: I met them in recovery. people who wield power in their work as a substitute for any real human contact, love, or affection. no one recognizes them anywhere other than in their position of power. that’s the only thing they’ve spent their lives taking care of.
so that’s what turns them on, is that power. and then what happens to them at the end of the day when they go home and sit alone in their apartment? it’s unbelievably sad. ninety-five percent of my work on that movie was shot in the first two days in that office building in simi valley.
farrell: did the movie hurt?
curtis: what surprised me was when we did the hot dog universe, because both of our movies involve fingers and hands. but when michelle and i met, and the daniels talked about the universe of hot dogs, i didn’t understand. I didn’t understand the movie and I was trying to figure it out. and then we went on set and what happened, which was so beautiful, was me and michelle found this beautiful emotional place between us.
curtis: it was just a beautiful dance with her. and that’s that level of finding reality within a universe that seems so strange, and yet isn’t strange at all. in the end, you believe everything.
farrell: because it gives body and shape to the ridiculous. and ridicule is something we all struggle with. life is so ridiculous. I don’t know why or how I am on the right side, so far, of the wrong. the world is so unfair and imperfect. I don’t know why we got to where we are. but some of the ridiculousness in the world is joyful.
curtis: by the way, if you’re going to write a book, that’s the title. “the right side of evil.”