I will remember 2004 as the year I went on a date with Colin Farrell and got scorched by the inferno of his white-hot charisma. Our liaison, an epic tale of bleach, blood and bisexuality, proved to be every bit as emotionally draining as the tabloids had led me to believe it might be.
We had a date to meet in the windows at Barneys on Madison Avenue. Mr. Farrell and his onscreen mother, Angelina Jolie, were scheduled for a photo op alongside the Alexander costumes. These, together with crates of shields and helmets and beaded curtains, were installed at the store in tandem with the launch of Oliver Stone’s new flopic (epic + flop).
This nifty bit of cross-promotion had taken months of planning: The truckloads of props and period drag had come all the way from Macedonia. Or was it Burbank? Either way, I was not counting the cost: I would have stuck my hand in a flaming brazier for the opportunity to spend a couple of minutes with Colin behind his bejeweled arras.
First blip: Somebody forgot to tell the gorgeously enigmatic Ms. Jolie about the photo op. She was thousands of miles away, no doubt adopting more children with mullets and acquiring more spooky tattoos. Second blip: Alexander the Leprechaun suddenly announced that he could still do the photo op, but only at the Barneys Beverly Hills branch, where a similar display had been installed. (Playing hard to get, Col? I’ll give your bottom a good smacking!)
I managed to restrain myself from hurling all the costumes and props into the street and handing them out to passers-by, and hopped on a plane.
During the flight, I soothed my irritation by fantasizing about the sizzling rapport which was destined to form between the Phone Booth star and myself. How could it be otherwise when we had so much in common? I am a poof, he had just finished playing two screen poofs. We’re both Irish, albeit from different sides of the border. Neither of us is what you would call tall. And lastly and mostimportantly, we have both had disastrous encounters with the peroxide bottle, he more recently than I. I refer to the bleached tresses which the dedicated thespian saw fit to sport for his portrayal of Alexander the Great. (Don’t blame my Colin: He was obviously talked into going for a surfer-god look by some deranged hair-burner. It wasn’t his fault that he ended up looking more like Shelley Winters in Lolita. Or was it Shelley Long in Cheers?)
Los Angeles. Stock shot of plane landing. Picture the scene: There we were, I and a gaggle of the Beverly Hills Barneys window dressers, waiting for the arrival of our hero. There were sundry film crews and plenty of excitable female fans waiting on the sidewalk in front of the display window.
Everyone was thoroughly jazzed. The man whose willie we almost saw in A Home at the End of the World was about to walk through the door. The man who kissed Jared Leto (the latter plays Hephaistion, which I think means “bum chum” in ancient Macedonian) was coming to pose in our display windows.
Mr. Farrell arrived on time looking, with the exception of a dirty fingernail or two, not only well-scrubbed but unexpectedly sober. He wore a dark suit and a white shirt, slashed to the pec, revealing a manly smidgen of chest hair. The Shelley Winters do has been replaced by a deep chestnut, leonine mop.
“You are such a good sport. Thanks for doing this,” I said, proffering a hand and trying not to look inside his shirt even though it was at eye level (Colin, mate, were you wearing elevator shoes? You could have told me-then I could have worn mine).
“Follow me and I’ll take you into the window,” I said, making an authoritative and yet hospitable gesture towards the Prada handbags.
Mr. Farrell’s thick eyebrows rose in surprise and threatened to meet his hairline.
“I”M not getting IN the WINDOW!” he said, raising his voice and rounding on his entourage of publicists and handlers in a thoroughly Macedonian kind of way.
A series of agitated, embarrassed huddles then took place.
“Oh, Mary! Just shut up and get in the fucking window,” said a passing customer who was observing the scene with barely contained amusement.
Nobody could quite understand why old Colin-the bloke who had just finished butching his way through the ancient world, falling off horses and breaking bones-had gone all nelly about climbing into a store window.
Maybe he was just gayed out. Maybe it was the straw that broke the Leprechaun’s back.
Mr. Farrell has not spoken to me since. Our date dissolved into a blizzard of reproaches between the Warner Brothers flacks and Mr. Farrell’s “people.” Apparently Mr. Farrell did his photo op on the sidewalk. I did not witness it. The display boys and I went back to the studio and made a papier-mâché Colin Farrell doll. I won’t tell you what we did to it.
PS: Go and see Alexander! Though most of the highlights are on Colin’s head, the movie is camp and funny and not nearly as horrible as the critics say it is.