True Detective‘s second season has been largely polarizing to this point, slogging through dimly lit narratives branching out in all directions. Time and hope remain, and I am confident that the coming weeks will bring life to what has been a grim tale for three weeks. I am even more confident about my love for Colin Farrell, which will endure no matter what fate Nic Pizzolatto assigns to Ray Velcoro. Here’s to the best work Colin Farrell has done, and to the better work on the way (side note: How is he only 39? Has he not been around forever?) This list is by no means exhaustive (or accurate), but here are five of Farrell’s roles of which we can not get enough, as they say.
5. Bobby Pellit, Horrible Bosses
It is almost always enjoyable to watch an actor transform into something unusual and grotesque, and Farrell does just that as the coke fiend son of Jason Sudeikis’ beloved boss. HB is a GWW guilty pleasure as a whole, and Farrell’s screen time does not disappoint. Bobby does not last long in the film (BELATED SPOILER ALERT), but he still manages to sneak in some horrific insults and hilarious exclamations — “I’m a green belt, motherfucker!” — in his drug-addled state.
4. Marty, Seven Psychopaths
Martin McDonagh’s plot zigs and zags to the point of incoherence, but the script is hilarious, and the cast is littered with GWW favorites (Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, and Woody Harrelson are their usual wonderful selves in zany roles.). Marty is a struggling screenwriter who longs for a suitable way to finish his story, only to find himself entangled in murderous chaos marked by gangsters and stolen Shih Tzus. After multiple viewings the nuances of the plot still escape me, but it is far harder to forget Farrell’s (and the ensemble’s) crazed energy.
3. Billy Callahan, Scrubs (“My Lucky Charm”)
This role is probably unfamiliar to most people, given that it was a one-episode guest spot, but Farrell is at his best as a potentially criminal Casanova attending to a patient whom he put in the hospital in the first place. Men and women alike swoon throughout Sacred Heart, and the audience does too. This audience, at least. Farrell has been known to physically overexcite his viewers, but as Callahan his charm and perfect accent do the trick.
2. Phone Booth, Stu Shepard
Farrell’s Stu is essentially a massive (insert insult here), but his jittery performance helps elevate the simple, contained narrative. Kiefer Sutherland’s hard whispers and crazed demands make the movie even more compelling. My experience with this movie was only heightened by the fact that I watched it at the tender age of nine, subject to a slew of profanity from Farrell that absolutely flabbergasted my unsuspecting mother, a fan of 24 who had picked up the movie at Blockbuster (RIP) because of her Sutherland fandom. Farrell’s persona was, for a long time, one of badassery and a certain smug douchiness, and that played perfectly for the role of Stu.
1. In Bruges, Ray
Duh. The gap between first and second on this last is gargantuan. In Bruges probably falls somewhere between 4th and 10th on my list of favorite movies of all time. That is not the case for most people, just one more reason why you shouldn’t trust most people. I can still recall the first time I came across the film on television, pulled in from the moment I read “Chatty Irish hit men” in the channel’s synopsis. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind affair between this magical movie and me. Repeated viewings, longing for Farrell’s accent, for Ralph Fiennes’ versatility, for Brendan Gleeson’s general awesomeness. I don’t think the film will ever get old for me. Here is but one example of Colin turning Ray into a GWW icon. And another. And a bunch more. Ray is troubled and at times mean, but McDonagh’s script and the beautiful setting and Farrell and Gleeson’s performances make something magical. Like a fairy tale.
Roles that missed out:
Honorable Mention: Travers Goff (Saving Mr. Banks), Jimmy Egan (Pride and Glory), Velcoro
Dishonorable Mentuion: Peter Lake (Winter’s Tale)