Category: Archive

The ‘Vice’ man cometh

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Colin Farrell said once he’d signed on to play Sonny Crockett in Michael Mann’s new big-screen version of “Miami Vice,” he tried to put the iconic 1980s TV series that bares the same name completely out of his head.
“I didn’t really think much about good, old Don Johnson,” the 30-year-old Castleknock native recently told reporters in Los Angeles. “If I was to think about the early Crockett, I would have been in quite a bit of trouble because I would have been arguing with them about the suits that I wanted to wear; you know: ‘No socks with my slip-ons!’ and all that kind of stuff. ‘Where’s my crocodile?'”
Although Farrell didn’t talk to the 57-year-old Mid-westerner about the role that made him a teen heart-throb 20 years ago, his co-star, Jamie Foxx, said he caught an earful when he ran into Johnson once at an L.A. eatery.
Sitting with Farrell on a panel that included Mann and co-stars Naomie Harris and Gong Li, Foxx recalls how the “Nash Bridges” star barked at him, ‘You tell Colin Farrell when he’s through with my jock strap to give it back!'”
“It never arrived,” Farrell quipped. “It might have added some insight into the character! But, no, ‘Miami Vice,’ the TV show, was the original genesis, obviously, for this piece, but we approached it from, as Michael says, a very contemporary standpoint and it is its own entity.”
Originally broadcast from 1984-1989, the crime/drama about Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs, two ultra-cool vice cops taking on the Miami drug trade, is most commonly remembered for sexy stars Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas and the flashy cars they drove through gorgeous palm tree-lined locales, as well as the songs on its soundtrack (“Smuggler’s Blues,” “You Belong to the City,” “In the Air Tonight”) and the fashion trends it inspired (stubbly cheeks, pastel shirts worn under white suits, loafers with no socks).
But as those behind the new film are quick to point out, the show also broke new ground with its story-telling techniques, the subject matter it covered and even the way it was shot. And, though some moments of the show were decidedly tongue-in-cheek — Crockett did, after all, have an alligator named Elvis guarding the boat on which he lived — many episodes were poignant and emotional and concluded without traditional happy endings, emphasized Mann, the film’s writer/director/ and the show’s executive producer.
While it may be its own entity, this re-imagining of “Miami Vice” maintains the spirit of the show without poking fun of the original work, Farrell added.
“A lot of people go, ‘Oh, you’re wearing the suit and the whole thing is hilarious!’ But it only really became camp in hindsight,” Farrell reasoned. “At the time, it was a really cutting-edge show and it was really dark –the subject matter: drugs, prostitution and so on and so forth; Crockett’s back story with his two children and his wife. This man and some very reality-based situations were dealt with very honestly for the time and I think that it has just been elevated for today’s modern age.”
Although Mann insisted he did not deliberately limit the cigarette-smoking in the film to pacify the modern distaste for the habit (he said it just wasn’t necessary to tell the story,) Farrell, a notorious chain smoker, suggests he wouldn’t have minded if Crockett lit up now and again on-screen.
“I had a costume that was made of Nicorette patch, but it kept melting in the Miami sun,” he joked.
The handsome son of former Shamrock Rovers star Eamonn Farrell, Colin Farrell left Dublin’s famed Gaiety School of Acting for a starring part on the beloved BBC series, “Ballykissangel.” A featured role in Tim Roth’s directorial debut, “The War Zone,” led to Farrell’s discovery by Hollywood where the articulate, instantly likable rogue quickly became one of its hardest-working actors, snagging lead roles in “Tigerland,” “American Outlaws,” “Minority Report,” “Phone Booth” and “Daredevil” and making headlines around the globe for his hard-partying, skirt-chasing ways.
Following his two major box-office disappointments, “Alexander” and “The New World,” and the birth of his baby son, James, by ex-girlfriend Kim Bordenave, Farrell seemed to be keeping a lower profile, checking himself into rehab and limiting his interaction with the press.
So, what made the Dublin-based actor want to, at this point in his career, star in a film version of an American TV show that first aired when he was eight years old? Basically, he said, it was the chance to work with the Oscar-nominated, Chicago-born director of “Ali,” “The Insider” and “Collateral.”
“I had been talking to Michael for a couple of years about finding something to do together and then this came along and was the perfect opportunity,” Farrell recalled.
“Whether it’s a historical piece like he did with ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ or that very famous scene in ‘Heat,’ he understands the choreography of an action sequence, especially a highly volatile one,” Farrell observed. “But, unless it’s backed up with some human drama, unless you have some kind of emotional investment in the characters, he understands that the validity of doing big-scale things isn’t there.”
In the film, Crockett and Tubbs (played by Jamie Foxx), go undercover transporting drugs while investigating the deaths of two federal agents and an informant friend’s family. As the complicated case places the detectives smack in the middle of a sophisticated network of global traffickers with incredible security, romantic sparks fly between Crockett and Isabella (Gong Li), a cartel’s stunning financial officer.
“To quote ‘Jerry Maguire,’ they do kind of complete each other,” Farrell said of his character’s relationship with the “Memoirs of a Geisha” star. “They come together and it’s a very interesting idea and a very bad idea… Crockett is someone who would have had one-night stands over the years, prolifically, and never been emotionally attached to anyone; one of the primary reasons for that would be the line of work that he involves himself in. But he finds in this woman someone that makes great sense, perfect sense.”
Although Farrell didn’t say much about his own personal life at the “Miami Vice” press conference, he did speak candidly in an interview with the Daily Mirror last week about his recent stint in rehab where he was treated for exhaustion and an addiction to prescription drugs.
“I was burning the candle at both ends and the flames met in the middle,” he told the paper. “It just caught up with me. It was a long time coming, but I had my ass handed to me on a plate. Now I haven’t had a drink for six months.”
Farrell says the birth of his now 2-year-old son helped him see the light.
“I have a new-found appreciation for my life,” he declared. “I wasn’t suicidal, but I never had much of a will to live a long time. … Now I want to watch my son grow up, be his friend and his father, and hang around with him. So, he’s the greatest priority in my life.”
“Miami Vice” opens nationwide July 28.

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