Colin Farrell has experienced a lot since he got his break back in 2000 with Tigerland, and the actor knows that success and happiness can take many forms. We spoke with him at the 2019 Pendulum Summit in Dublin's Convention Centre.
"Success is a relative term," says Colin Farrell.
"The idea of success is predicated on - having the patience and, possibly, the humility to look at oneself, [our] own way of being, how [we] move through the world and how we inform those around us.
"Also, how those around us and the community around us inform our lives and why we have the reactions we do to other people and we have healthy relationships and foremost a healthy relationship with ourselves which is tricky it sounds very self-interested and get over yourself.
I enjoy every success I’ve had but success is such a relative term. Think of a film that doesn’t do well with the critics but it makes $500million. Ask the actor and they’ll tell you probably not but the studio? Well that’s a different story! Colin Farrell #PendulumSummit pic.twitter.com/gwpPKirwLP— Pendulum Summit (@PendulumSummit) January 9, 2019
Since he first got his break back in 2000 with Tigerland, Farrell's time in Hollywood has consisted of many highs and lows. The experiences have made him more reflective of life as a result and aware that happiness and success can take many forms.
"I don't think it's for a person to say whether another person's life is a successor not. I think from the inside there, the measure of success is open to a plethora of interpretations or plethora of meanings that we find daily in our lives."
"So for one person who's inside their life, a success might be a healthy child who's in a school they're enjoying and friends that they're connected to literally and a job that they don't hate, not even that they love, that they don't hate. And for another person, success might be a private jet, this that and the other. Mine would lean more towards the former of course than the latter."
"Life is meant to be lived, not mastered" - Colin Farrell #pendulum19— LifeStyle on RTÉ (@LifeStyleRTE) January 9, 2019
The actor has had rocky patches in his career, the most noticeable one being Alexander. The failure of that and following it up with Miami Vice, he began to question why he was in acting.
"When I did Miami Vice years ago and Miami Vice wasn't as spectacular a critical and commercial failure as Alexander was but it also was on the fence critically and commercially, it didn't do great and I remember going 'what am I doing this for?'" he said.
"Yes, the money is great but I stepped into this whole fame thing that had been around me for five or six years at a pretty high level and I remember going 'who was the lad that walked into an acting class when he was 16 or 17 in Dublin and sat in front of a room of strangers, got up and worked on scenes? What did that feel like?'
"I lost touch and sight of what that excitement and curiosity was that began my journey in acting.
"We should allow life to change us, we should allow loss, we should allow success." - Colin Farrell #PendulumSummit— LifeStyle on RTÉ (@LifeStyleRTE) January 9, 2019
It's also important not to fall into the trap of thinking constant happiness is an obtainable goal. Farrell is keen to stress that it's normal to not feel amazing every waking hour, and it was something that came up in his talk with Miriam O'Callaghan at the Pendulum Summit.
"[O'Callaghan] asked me do you wake every morning are you happy, I was like no," he said. "I wouldn't mind waking up every morning happy. I don't wake up every morning depressed but I certainly wasn't going to say that and have someone in the audience going 'jasus, how do I wake up in the morning [happy]'. You put all of this pressure out.
"I don't think life is about being happy all the time, it's about striving for moments of joy and happiness through connectivity with ourselves and others but also allowing those moments to befall us that hurt or steal us of our belief and ourselves for a day or an hour or whatever it may be.
"A successful life is one of connectivity and presence in the experience that you're having."
I stay away from it all. Not because I’m bigger than it or better. I just have no interest in it. I love the work and being an actor. I’m very grateful that after twenty years that I still get to make films and provide for the people I love. Colin Farrell on fame #PendulumSummit pic.twitter.com/6PBelUqVao— Pendulum Summit (@PendulumSummit) January 9, 2019
While the instinct is to ignore it or to tell yourself to cop on, Farrell finds that awareness of it can bring you onto bigger and better things. Ignoring it or refusing to acknowledge it can lead to greater pain.
"If I was to have an experience of fear and I really don't acknowledge it and I try to push it down, I don't think it can be pushed away, I don't think human emotions can be neglected.
"We can try and neglect them, we can try and oppress them but they'll find another way to come up. I think all of these things are expressions not just of desires and frustrations but fears unrecognised.
"Fear... can also be a great foundation on which growth can be built."
- Words by Quinton O'Reilly, video interview by Sínann Fetherston
We spoke with Colin Farrell at Pendulum Summit .