Possibly one of the most underrated actors of contemporary cinema, Irish actor Colin Farrell elevates any film he appears in, no matter the role. Whether it’s as the comedic hitman of Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges or the guilty father of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Farrell always brings his A-game, sprinkling his performances with careful emotional nuance.
Becoming the surprise star of Matt Reeves’ The Batman, Farrell starred as the villainous Penguin under several layers of impressive prosthetics, playing the iconic comic-book character like a snivelling gangster from The Sopranos. Whilst Paul Dano provided much of the terror as The Riddler, it was Farrell’s character that many remembered, with Penguin sure to play a major part in the future of the film series.
In conversation with Rotten Tomatoes in 2016, Farrell revealed his five favourite movies of all time, with his eclectic choices well reflecting the actor’s own love for a range of cinematic roles.
First on his list is the beloved Hollywood blockbuster Back to the Future, directed by Robert Zemeckis. Holding “a nostalgia that will never go away,” Farrell speaks fondly of seeing the film as a child, becoming totally enveloped by its magic. “I saw it recently again, and it just doesn’t date. Michael J Fox, who I loved already from Family Ties, was the coolest thing on two heels for me. I just wanted to be him,” the actor reveals.
The David Lean epic Lawrence of Arabia starring Peter O’Toole is second on Farrell’s list, with the film being a favourite of cinephiles across the world, including the filmmaker Martin Scorsese. “This is just maddeningly brilliant,” Farrell excitedly states, adding, “At once sweeping and epic, and yet searingly personal, thanks to the incredible work of Peter O’Toole”. Though you could say few films are utterly spotless, Farrell states that Lawrence of Arabia “feels like a perfect piece of cinema to me”.
Speaking of cinematic classics beloved by many, the Wim Wenders film Paris, Texas takes the third spot on Farrell’s list, with the actor calling it “a beautiful, beautiful film”. Gushing over the quality of the 1984 movie, he adds, “It also has one of the most honest portrayals of the loss of love between a couple, and the inherent danger within the nature of obsession. This lost love is broken down for the audience in what, to me, is possibly the most quietly powerful monologue ever delivered in any film I’ve seen”.
Two comedies bookend Farrell’s list, starting with the influential Billy Wilder movie Some Like it Hot with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, a film that featured the Irish actor’s first love. “This was where I fell in love for the first time. As a boy of maybe nine, or so. Marilyn really nailed my little, tentative heart,” Farrell reveals, adding, “Again, like most great films, this one has some quotes and moments that just stay in the mind and resonate. It’s a film about love and friendship and second chances”.
The final film on Colin Farrell’s list is the iconic British comedy Withnail and I starring Richard E. Grant, a “perfect” film according to the actor. “Ridiculously quotable with mad, perfect performances across the board. Richard E Grant is pure genius,” Farrell comments, pointing to the themes of “loneliness and isolation,” that make this film as much a drama as a hilarious comedy.
Take a look at the full list of Colin Farrell’s five favourite films of all time, below.
Colin Farrell’s five favourite films of all time:
- Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
- Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)
- Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders, 1984)
- Some Like it Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
- Withnail and I (Bruce Robinson, 1987)