Colin Farrell’s complete disinterest in being a famous movie star continues to make him one of our most interesting actors. Tuesday, it was announced that Farrell is in talks to join Denzel Washington in Inner City, Dan Gilroy’s follow-up to Nightcrawler. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Farrell would play a “slick, money-focused lawyer,” who entices Washington’s legal researcher to join his big firm, whereupon Washington “stumbles upon a case that changes his entire life.”
Nightcrawler was a wonderfully screwed-up L.A. noir movie that can also be read as “it’s about the media, man,” and as a central text in the Gyllenhaalasaince. It also introduced many people to the pleasures of Riz Ahmed. Any Gilroy, much less Dan, making a legal thriller makes me want to stand in the middle of the street with a bag of fresh baguettes, but the chance to see Farrell in the Hackman/Owen/Hawke Washington-foil part is almost too much. You’re in the office, baby.
Movie stars spend the first half of their careers trying to be a no. 1. They scratch and claw and do comic-book films, just to get to that point where their names go above the title, and their association with a project green-lights it into production. There’s the GQ covers, the awards-bait prestige films, the fame and attention. And then there’s Passengers or Assassin’s Creed. It’s what happens next that usually defines a career.
Everything that may or may not happen to Chris Pratt and Michael Fassbender has already happened to Colin Farrell. I think everything that can possibly happen to a person has happened to Colin Farrell. He went up the roller coaster with Tigerland and Minority Report, went down with Daredevil and S.W.A.T. and then when Alexander happened the roller-coaster tracks disappeared and there were only elephants.
In Bruges was the penance, and since then Farrell has been one of the most consistent film actors — save minor blips like the Total Recall remake and Dead Man Down. He doesn’t need to carry an entire movie, and the movies he’s in don’t need to carry a movie-star career. This frees him up to be in lots of stuff. Along with Inner City, Farrell’s 2017 slate includes Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, with Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, and Kirsten Dunst, as well as Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which reunites Farrell with the director of The Lobster.
It’s possible that all three films occupy spots on year-end lists (Inner City is being highly touted, not least by Washington himself). Amazing things happen when you stop trying to be a movie star.