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ex-bad boy turned award-winning character actor

Colin Farrell’s best actor award in Venice crowns a redemptive arc for the Irishman, who almost destroyed himself in his dizzying rise to stardom before rebuilding a career as a supporting player.

Farrell’s victory at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday came for his turn as a sweet-natured animal lover in the pitch-black comedy-drama “The Banshees of Inisherin”. 

It reunites him with co-star Brendan Gleeson and writer-director Martin McDonagh, who was awarded with best screenplay, following their much-loved gangster comedy “In Bruges” from 2008. 

Accepting the award by video call from Los Angeles, Farrell thanked “my dance partner”, Gleeson, and held up a bunch of bananas in lieu of the trophy. 

“This film is about all the things we struggle with every day: our desire to be loved… our need for friendship,” he told the audience. 

– ‘No handbrake’ –

Born near Dublin on May 31, 1976, it has been a bumpy ride through the film industry for Farrell. 

He had considered being a footballer like his father as a young boy and reportedly tried out for boyband Boyzone in the 1990s before landing a role in BBC drama “Ballykissangel”. 

It was when he was plucked out of hundreds auditioning for the lead in 2000’s “Tigerland” that he grabbed Hollywood’s attention.

A small-scale film from big-name director Joel Schumacher, it earned Farrell instant comparisons with the likes of James Dean and Paul Newman.

Marketed as the new “bad boy of Hollywood”, he was instantly cast in a string of blockbusters including “Minority Report”, “Daredevil” and “Alexander”. 

They were not always a great fit — with “Alexander” earning him a Razzie nomination for worst performance of the year. 

The sudden megastardom took its toll, along with a party lifestyle with alcohol and drugs. 

He later said he couldn’t remember shooting “a single frame” of 2006’s “Miami Vice”, and checked himself into rehab immediately after production. 

“For a long time, I could go mad for three, six months… Then suddenly I couldn’t find the handbrake,” he told the Irish Independent. 

It was then that Farrell turned his career around, taking on smaller and quirkier roles — with “In Bruges” setting the stage for a gradual comeback. 

Farrell looked more at home in arthouse projects, such as two strange concoctions from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Lobster” and “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” or civil war drama “The Beguiled” by Sofia Coppola.

Lately, Farrell has been on a roll, appearing in sci-fi drama “After Yang” in 2021 and this year’s “Thirteen Lives”. 

But he has continued to land parts in blockbusters such as Harry Potter spin-off “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, and remakes of “Total Recall” and “Dumbo”. 

And his unlikely and unrecognisable appearance as The Penguin in the latest version of “The Batman” has earned him his own spin-off TV series. 

Farrell told AFP he had loved the “simplicity” of life on the island…

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