On paper, "Alexander" looked like a surefire hit. Colin Farrell, who starred as the titular world-conqueror in the 2004 film, certainly thought so. And who could blame him? Helmed by an acclaimed director in Oliver Stone and featuring a stacked cast that included Sir Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie, Rosario Dawson, Val Kilmer, Jared Leto, and Christopher Plummer, it seemed like the perfect vehicle to catapult the young Irish actor to superstardom. The film also featured a very robust budget of $155 million, and every bit was needed to capture the scale and scope of Alexander the Great's life.
And then, the terrible reviews started to come in. The box office receipts didn't. Stone's epic biopic managed a measly $34 million domestic, and barely scraped past its budget worldwide with $167 million, all told. A mere four years after his breakout role in "Tigerland," Farrell started to question his own talent and the future — or potentially lack thereof — of his acting career. It was a far cry from where he started at the outset of his six month shoot on the film, which he was confident would land him a front seat at the Academy Awards. As he told The Hollywood Reporter during an actor's roundtable:
"Expectation is a dangerous thing. 'Alexander' was a story that Oliver Stone had dreamed of since he was in college. So, as grand as it was, as global as it was, as political as it was, as thrilling as it was, as violent as it was, and as sensual as it was, it was really personal. When I say 'expectation,' we all had our tuxedos ready."
Unfortunately for Farrell and Stone, it was a very personal and grueling experience that ended in disaster.
Farrell Started To Question His Entire Career
At the same time Colin Farrell was preparing his Oscar speech, reality hit like a brick. He began to realize becoming a true Hollywood A-lister and awards season favorite wouldn't be as easy as he'd originally believed. He told The Hollywood Reporter:
"I thought, 'What can I do?' I felt so much shame. I found myself in a place where with everyone I met I wanted to say, 'Have you seen 'Alexander?' If you have, I'm really sorry.' I'm not even joking."
Farrell even started questioning his own talent, telling himself he was a "crap actor" who had "been found out." He went into hiding at Lake Tahoe because, while he didn't actually ski, he "could wear a mask and a beanie" to help him remain incognito while dealing with his disappointment and embarrassment. But the experience helped him refocus on the kind of actor he wanted to be, and why he got into his career of choice in the first place. He explained:
"What I had to do was plug back into the Colin that went into an acting class when he was 17. And not only the fellow that went in the first time, but more importantly the fellow that went back for the second workshop. I had lost that."
Fortunately for both Farrell and audiences alike, that was just what he needed. A few years after the stink of "Alexander" had finally been washed off, he made "In Bruges," and has started to morph into an elite character actor (while maintaining his leading-man good looks). Jump to 2023 and it turns out he will finally get to dust off that tuxedo after all, now that he's officially landed a Best Actor nomination for "The Banshees of Inisherin."
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