Colin Farrell sinks claws into his strange 'Lobster' role

Bryan Alexander
Collin Farrell stars in 'The Lobster.'

Colin Farrell’s lonely architect David checks into a mysterious hotel where he's told he has 45 days to find a love partner or be turned into an animal of his choice, in the film The Lobster.

David chooses a lobster before he inexplicably has his pants zipper-padlocked.

Yorgos Lanthimos’ absurd comedy set in a dystopic future then gets even more out-there.

Just ask Farrell about The Lobster, opening in New York and Los Angeles Friday before expanding across the country May 27.

“I’m not saying this as a good or bad thing, but this is definitely the most unusual film I've been in, possibly the most unusual I ever will be in,” says Farrell, 39, speaking over the phone. “It’s just really bizarre.”

Farrell knew what he was getting into with Greek writer and director Lanthimos, whose 2009 absurd Greek-language film Dogtooth, revolved around a family living in a fenced-in compound, was nominated for a best foreign language Oscar.


Ariane Labed as "The Maid" and Colin Farrell as "David" in "The Lobster."

Farrell loved it, and jumped to work with Lanthimos in his first English-language film — joining a cast including fellow hotel guests played by John C. Reilly (Lisping Man) and Ben Whishaw (Limping Man), Léa Seydoux as the leader of an anti-romance rebel group "The Loners" and Rachel Weisz as David’s eventual love interest (simply Short-Sighted Woman).

The actors play Lanthimos' dryly bizarre material (with writing partner Efthymis Filippou) completely straight, even a scene where Reilly’s character confesses to masturbation over breakfast and is forced to stick a hand in a toaster.

During scenes when hotel guests are compelled to shoot outlaw Loners in the woods with tranquilizer guns, the sprinting hunters kept appropriately stern looks. ("But when I saw those scenes in slow motion, I was just cracking up," says Farrell.)

Lanthimos appreciates the laughs.

“But it all seems sane to the two of us writing this screenplay,” says Lanthimos. “It's what we think makes sense in this world we create which doesn’t make sense.”

Farrell even put on 45 pounds to better portray his soft character.

“We felt that David would have a more robust figure than I have,” says Farrell, who lost the weight directly afterward. “It wasn’t something I lived with for long. I knew why I was doing it, went into it and came out it.”


From (L-R) John C. Reilly as Lisping Man, Ben Whishaw as Limping Man and Colin Farrell as David in "The Lobster"

This extra poundage is clearly on display in one extended scene where Farrell is alone in his hotel room prominently sporting cotton white briefs.

“That felt right,” says Farrell, laughing. “That underwear felt like they had found their true calling.”

Lanthimos’ Lobster wowed the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, taking the Jury Prize. Farrell, who stars in the magical world of  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Nov. 18), enjoyed the strange Lobster trip.

“There wasn’t one shining moment of absurdity, it was all just continually bizarre,” says Farrell. “I cannot say I completely have a grasp of what the film is about or have definitive answers of what it's trying to say. But I loved the whole experience.”