Somehow, for the second time in his strange, distinct career, Yorgos Lanthimos has become part of awards season. The Greek auteur scored a surprise 2011 Best Foreign-Language Oscar nomination for “Dogtooth,” and now Colin Farrell has landed a Best Actor Musical or Comedy nod from the Golden Globes for his leading turn in Lanthimos’ 2016 arthouse hit “The Lobster” ($15 million worldwide).
In the movie, which also won Best Screenplay from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and picked up a nod from the American Cinema Editors this week, Farrell plays a sad, paunchy man who gets sent to a hotel where he has 45 days to find a partner. If he fails to mate, he’ll be turned into an animal. “‘The Lobster’ seemed to work out,” Farrell told me in our video interview, below.
Their next film together, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” “makes ‘The Lobster’ seem like a kids’ movie,” Farrell said. He has one word for it: “bleak.“
Farrell has learned the hard way that every movie is a risk. Some big-budget projects that seemed guaranteed to find audiences didn’t, while independent films that “weren’t particularly strong on the page” turned out “beautifully” (but didn’t always find audiences). He’s found better roles since changing agents, and enjoyed playing the villain in current J.K. Rowling hit “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”
Because of all these “moving parts,” Farrell tries to approach each new film free of expectations — there are too many variables that are impossible to predict, he said: “I never expect, but I hope that things work out.”
“If anything, having seen ‘Dogtooth’ and ‘Alps,’ [‘The Lobster’] was less of a risk than the majority of films I’ve done, because his work is so strong,” he said. Lanthimos, who co-wrote the film alongside his usual collaborator Efthymis Filippou, is “somebody who is interested in the push-pull of what it is to be a human being — in the loneliness, in how we learn through example and through observation, in how we follow or break rules, in whether rules are a service or disservice to us.”
Next up is Sofia Coppola’s new take on Thomas Cullinan’s novel “The Beguiled,” in which Farrell plays a flirtatious Civil War soldier recuperating from his wounds in a girl’s boarding school run by women (Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst). Clint Eastwood memorably played the role in Don Siegel’s 1971 film.