Heartthrob Colin Farrell is now a two-time Golden Globe Award-winning actor. The sexy Irishman made a name for himself both on and off the screen with his long history of high-profile relationships with famous women. He’s also an adoring father to two sons, who he called the “loves of his life” during his recent Golden Globe acceptance speech. Meet James and Henry.
Colin Farrell’s Early Life
Colin Farrell was born May 31, 1976, in Dublin, Ireland. He has one brother and two sisters, all raised by their mother Rita and father Eamon. Colin’s father and uncle played football for the Shamrock Rovers and his dad eventually ran a health food store. The Banshees of Inisherin actor has described his dad as a hard worker. He said he taught primarily through action and was not a traditional “Irishman” as far as storytellers go, but more of a sports enthusiast.
“I do come from a people whose tradition of rich oral storytelling has been recognized all over the world, but for me, it’s more in my blood than my memory, for sure!” Farrell told Express UK.
Despite his upbringing, Farrell developed an itch for acting after watching ET: The Extra-Terrestrial. “I cried and I just loved it,” he told The Sun (via RTE). “I was taken away completely to another world. It inspired in me all sorts of thoughts, emotions, and it has stayed with me very much. E.T. really did it for me.” However, Farrell’s path to stardom would be a bit of a winding one, with many trials and errors.
Colin Farrell attended the all-boys school Castleknock College before entering Gormanston College. While at Gormanston, at the age of 17, he tried out for the boy band Boyzone but wasn’t enlisted. He then joined a line-dancing troupe that was headlined by a 250-pound Irishman who went by the name of Howard. According to Visimag, Farrell “had an epiphany when he looked into the mirror and saw a man in a Stetson and choker, who would make a worthy addition to the Village People, staring back at him.”
Knocking on Hollywood’s Door
He left the dance troupe and briefly moved to Australia, and after an unsuccessful try at acting, his brother convinced him to join the Gaiety School of Drama. He was enlisted with the Lisa Richards Agency and began landing smaller and often uncredited roles. Finally, he was cast in the popular BBC TV drama Ballykissangel, prompting him to drop out of Gaiety School. He had officially put his foot firmly on Hollywood’s doorstep.
After Ballykissangel, Farrell was continuously chosen for TV and film roles. He starred in Tim Roth’s The War Zone in 1999. In 2002, Farrell starred opposite Tom Cruise in Minority Report. It was all uphill from there, for the most part. Farrell has admitted that some of his films were flops, notably Alexander, which had a whopping $155 million budget but only grossed $167 million worldwide. But in 2008, Farrell’s starring role in In Bruges led to his first Golden Globe award for Best Actor. In all, Farrell has 62 acting credits and more coming, with his most recent role in The Banshees of Inisherin landing him his second Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
Colin Farrell’s Battle with Substance Abuse Led to Rehab, Sobriety
In the midst of it all, while putting on a thousand masks onscreen, Colin Farrell was diagnosed with depression. He found himself turning to a slew of drugs, including alcohol, cigarettes, ecstasy, cocaine, and hash. The partying, coupled with continuous paparazzi hounding as he was spotted with ever-changing famous lovers, led to Farrell eventually checking himself into rehab. In 2006, he emerged clean and has been sober ever since.
Farrell told The Irish Sun that one of the triggers that led to his rock-bottom was the incredible letdown after playing Alexander the Great. But the widespread criticism of the film, as well as the realization that he had become “out of control” with his substance abuses, led to a sense of “humility.”
“I needed that lesson, and that humility, I felt like I let everyone down, I took it very personally, I wanted to apologize to everyone I met for six months. As a 23-year-old, of course it affected me,” he said.
Colin’s Love Life and First Son, James
Farrell has been romantically linked to Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Demi Moore, Rosario Dawson, Angelina Jolie, and even the late Elizabeth Taylor, who was 40 years his senior. But there have been two very important relationships in his life that, while short-lived, blessed him with his sons.
On September 12, 2003, Farrell’s first son, James Padraig Farrell, was born. His mother is model Kim Bordenave. But the next year, Farrell and Bordenave had split and were sharing custody of James. But he told the Irish Examiner that James had changed his life in a big way.
“I adore him, and I will always be in his life forever, he said. “He’ll always know who his dad is. Fatherhood for me is the ultimate success.”
But despite becoming a new father, Farrell was still struggling with mental health and addiction battles at the time. He then discovered that his son James had a rare neurogenetic disorder called Angelman Syndrome. Similar to some forms of autism and cerebral palsy, the disorder affects speech and mobility, making it much harder to learn basic functions. Farrell opened up about the diagnosis in 2007, shortly after leaving rehab, when James was 4 years old.
James Farrell’s Angelman Syndrome Diagnosis Has Ultimately Been a Blessing Despite the Struggle
Farrell told the Irish Independent that he is “incredibly blessed” to have James in his life, and that he finds tremendous joy in every little success.
“With my son the only time I’m reminded that there is something different about him — that he has some deviation of what is perceived to be normal — is when I see him with other four-year-olds,” he said. “Then I go ‘oh yeah’ and it comes back to me. But from day one I felt that he’s the way he’s meant to be.”
James didn’t take his first steps until he was four, and it brought tears to his father’s eyes.
“All the work is his, he worked his arse off for four years,” said Farrell. “And when he took the first steps it was incredibly emotional, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”
He added that he doesn’t like the term “disability,” but prefers to use the term “special needs.”
“I have never thought of my son as being someone with a disability,” he said. “It goes back to special needs and what is a disability and what isn’t.”
How James Has Inspired His Father
Farrell later told talk show host Ryan Turbridy that James was having seizures when he was only 8 or 9 months old. That initially led to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, but an early intervention later discovered the Angelman Syndrome. He reiterated how much of a blessing James has been for him and how proud he is of how far his son had come.
He’s nothing but a gift. He’s, as far as I’m concerned, exactly the way he should be. I look around and I see people who move perfectly, who walk with grace, who speak with great diction and clarity and a great use of the English language and we’re all miserable f–kers — including me, at times!
You know, we want to be this, or we want to be that, or compete with the man next to us … and then I see this fella who doesn’t move the way what’s perceived to be ‘normal’ is, and he’s as happy as can be. He’s just brilliant. It kind of blurs the line between what’s a hindrance [and what’s not].Colin Farrell, speaking to Ryan Turbridy (via People)
Years later, Farrell told People that watching James succeed was a major inspiration for him.
“Things like walking and talking and eating and feeding himself, all those things that so many of us naturally take for granted because they come so easily, to James, they come somewhat harder,” he said. “Everything he’s achieved in his life has come through the presence and the kind of will that is hard work. He’s a lot to be inspired by.”
Colin Farrell’s Younger Son, Henry
James became a big brother when he was six years old. Farrell and now ex-girlfriend Alicja Bachleda welcomed son Henry Tadeusz Farrell on October 7, 2009. In September, Farrell told People that he was “excited” for his second child, saying “I will take it as it comes. Even changing dirty diapers.”
Henry is now 13 and James is 19. Hearing Colin Farrell describe his relationship with them is also nothing short of amazing. Farrell admitted to Express UK that, although he’s “flying by the seat of my pants” with his fatherhood journey, he’s found that open and honest communication is key to a healthy parent-child dynamic. And with that, he has a respect for his sons’ independence as humans, and what they can teach him. It’s not a one-way street.
I think that if you just observe your children, and pay attention to what you see, they will tell you – either through words or through deeds or through energy – pretty much what they need from you. Me and my boys have very open and communicative relationships, and I do feel that, at my age, I have the right to have a couple of opinions on various things which I do share with them.
But just as I’ve introduced them to the best aspects of myself, I’ve also introduced them, just by virtue of regularly interacting with them, to the most traumatized and damaged aspects of myself. They are both of them there for me, like two samurai masters, there to teach me a lot of stuff.Colin Farrell, speaking about his sons James and Henry to Express UK
James and Henry Farrell Have Their Father’s Independent Streak
Some of his sons’ independence is expressed in the sheer fact that they’re not very “impressed” by Hollywood. Or at least, by the fact that their father is a superstar. After Fantastic Beasts came out, Farrell told People that his sons don’t think he’s a “cooler dad.”
“I’m just as boring and frustrating as I ever was,” he quipped.
And after Farrell was cast as Penguin in The Batman, his sons still weren’t impressed.
“They’re sick of me being a bad guy,” he told Ellen DeGeneres (via People). “Which apparently, reading between the lines, leads me to believe that they think I’m okay.” He also said that Henry is critical of his fashion choices, specifically begging him not to go out in public wearing short shorts.