Irish actor Colin Farrell disturbs the calm of an all-girls’ boarding school in Sofia Coppola’s critically acclaimed thriller “The Beguiled,” which opens exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas today.
Adapted from the novel by Thomas Cullinan, The Beguiled is a sexually charged tale that unfolds during the Civil War, at a southern girls’ boarding school. Its sheltered young women take in an injured enemy soldier (Farrell). As they provide refuge and tend to his wounds, the house is taken over with sexual tension and dangerous rivalries, and taboos are broken in an unexpected turn of events.
The role of McBurney intrigued the actor with every emotional and/or physical twist and turn. Farrell says, “He’s somewhat narcissistic, yet he’s a good judge of people in that he reads what they need. He senses what they may find disdainful and stays away from that, going instead to their soft spot—whether it’s giving a kind word or being more reserved.”
While there is tension—both sexual and otherwise—throughout the story, Farrell gravitated to what he deems an “extraordinary” script because “it looks at how whatever innocence has been maintained in a time of war can be lost. It also explores how the more animalistic aspects of human behavior can be provoked—and pervade—even when you’re not on the front lines.
“The violence of the human heart is a timeless theme, no matter what period a story takes place in,” explains Farrell, who had long wanted to make a movie with Coppola. “I loved how contained the drama was, and there’s a bit of melodrama as well.”
“In the book, the soldier is Irish,” shares Coppola. “When I met with Colin and heard his natural Irish accent, I thought it would be great to keep that and make McBurney even more exotic for the women. And we make reference to how he is a mercenary who was paid to take another man’s place [as a Union soldier]. But I wanted him to charm, that it not be obvious that he’s bad news. From the women’s point of view, it’s, “I want to believe him.” With Colin, that comes across.
As it happens, when Coppola approached the actor for The Beguiled, he had only just completed production on another movie with Nicole Kidman. He quips, “Nicole and I are now each 50 percent of a small film repertory company. “Nicole is a joy to work with,” states Farrell. “When she comes on the set, everyone gets a little bit better, from the actors to the electricians!”
Farrell notes, “The interactions between the man and these women are all about social etiquette—until somebody steps out of their acceptable box. Then it’s no longer an emotionally curtailed environment. Having strong actresses in every role makes the whole story more meaningful, and the relationships that more complicated, bringing life to every scene.”
Farrell marvels, “I was surrounded by extraordinary talented actresses. Since for a lot of the story my character is lying down, I had the best seat in the house—watching them work!”
Colin Farrell won a Golden Globe Best Actor Award starring for writer/director Martin McDonagh in “In Bruges,” which was an Academy Award nominee for Best Original Screenplay.
The Beguiled is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.