Colin Farrell Recalls a Distracted Terrence Malick Shooting Amid Lightning Storm on ‘New World’

"I found myself somewhere between insulted and so enamored with his honesty and his sense of presence, you know?"
Colin Farrell in "A New World"
"A New World"
screenshot/Amazon Prime Video

Terrence Malick will do anything to get the shot — even if it interrupts a scene.

During the March 3 episode of First We Feast’s “Hot Ones,” Colin Farrell relived the constant surprises he experienced on set when working with “extraordinary fellow” Malick on the 2005 film “A New World.” Writer-director Malick’s dedication to filmmaking came at a few costs, including multiple takes and a life-threatening decision mid-storm.

“I remember one time there was a rainstorm when we were shooting in West Virginia, sheet lightning coming down and then forks, loud, loud, claps of thunder, deafening,” Farrell said. “And then I hear one of the producers go, ‘Oh Jesus, oh Christ, will somebody go and get Terry?’ And we look out and this fucking dude, Terry Malick, has a conductor — he has a camera, which is a fucking conductor, basically — on his shoulder and he’s out, the grass is blowing, and he’s out there in a middle of a fucking lightning storm. It was beautiful.”

The “Batman” and “After Yang” star continued, “And he’s not stupid, Terry, he’s a very bright, very wise man, but he’s just so enamored with and so fascinated by nature, which is why sometimes human beings aren’t really the central aspect in his films.”

In fact, the real star of period piece “A New World” — which tells the story of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia as inspired by historical figures Captain John Smith (Farrell), Pocahontas (Q’orianka Kilcher), John Rolfe (Christian Bale), and Captain Christian Newport (Christopher Plummer) — was a wild osprey that wandered near the set.

“I’ll never forget it,” Farrell said of the shocking encounter. “Q’orianka was there and I had a couple of lines I had to say and as I was saying them, I’ll never forget, ‘Oh, is that an osprey?’ I found myself somewhere between insulted and so enamored with his honesty and his sense of presence, you know? [He’s a] gorgeous man.”

Late co-star Plummer previously revealed back in 2012 that he wrote Malick a letter after working on “A New World.”

“The problem with Terry, which I soon found, is he needs a writer desperately because he insists on doing everything,” Plummer told the roundtable group, which included Viola Davis, Charlize Theron, Tilda Swinton, and George Clooney. “He insists on writing, and overwriting, and overwriting, until it sounds terribly pretentious. You have to work terribly hard to make it sound real. And then he edits his films in such a way where he cuts everybody out of the story.”

Everybody, that is, except the ospreys.

Plummer added, “Terry gets terribly involved in poetic shots, which are gorgeous, but they’re paintings. All of them. He gets lost in that, and the stories get diffused, particularly in our film. This very emotional scene that I had suddenly was background noise. I could hear myself saying it, this long, wonderful, moving speech that I thought I was so fantastic in. It’s now background sort of score, way mild in the distance, while something else is going on. And [co-star] Colin Farrell just said, ‘Oh you know, we’re just going to be a couple fucking ospreys.'”

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