Seven Psychopaths in Plymouth cinemas, review
COLIN Farrell is taking great joy in winding up his friend Martin McDonagh over the origins of their new movie Seven Psychopaths.
The pair first collaborated on 2008's In Bruges, a dark comedy that earned writer and director McDonagh a Bafta award and an Oscar nomination, and Farrell a Golden Globe.
But, as it transpires, In Bruges was simply McDonagh's trial run at film-making.
"Just before we started In Bruges, you said, 'If you think In Bruges is good you should see the other script I wrote, it's much better'," recalls Farrell, laughing.
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An accomplished playwright (he's the recipient of two Laurence Oliver awards and four Tony award nominations), McDonagh wrote the screenplay for Seven Psychopaths at the same time as In Bruges.
The title of his latest film is also the name of the screenplay which the movie's protagonist Marty, played by Farrell, is struggling to finish.
"While Marty's renowned for writing good dialogue and violent scenarios, he's trying to take that violence and somehow render a story that is, in essence, about peace and love," explains Farrell, 36, who's appeared in the likes of The Minority Report, Miami Vice and, most recently, a remake of Total Recall.
In the film, when we meet Marty he's already past his deadline and way past the end of his girlfriend Kaya's (Abbie Cornish) patience. The situation isn't helped by the constant disruption his best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) poses. That's never more apparent than when Billy and his dog-napping business partner Hans (Christopher Walken) discover a particular pooch they've swiped happens to be the beloved pet of notorious gangster Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson).
As the three go on the run, with Shih Tzu Bonny in tow, Billy remains determined to help Marty finish his screenplay – at whatever the cost – and the result is a blood-soaked black comedy that's as funny as it is difficult to stomach at times.
"Every now and then, writing jumps off the page. This one does that," says Farrell. "It slaps you in the face, gives you a kick in the arse and takes you on a wonderful ride."
"The characters are inspired by a truth – love of a pet, need to help a friend, the wish that a lover was closer, ambition."
With seven distinct performances on the agenda, the challenge for McDonagh was to have a firm grip on what exactly defines a psychopath.
"It's a fun puzzle to play with – who is and who isn't a psychopath in the movie," muses McDonagh.
No stranger to meshing the juxtaposition of humour and darkness in past projects, McDonagh admits his humour is "leavened with a little bit of darkness".
"But the trick is to never let the darkness weigh the humour down," he notes. "And I try to put a lot of humanity in my scripts.
Given the success of their first collaboration combined with the impending awards season, have they considered the chances of potential plaudits this time?
"It's weird because we did nothing for In Bruges to get that kind of recognition. And I think they're going to throw more [promotion] on this one and we'll end up with absolutely nothing!" says McDonagh, laughing.
"But from my limited experience of [awards shows], it's absolutely fun," Farrell chips in. "It's better than a kick in the arse."
Seven Psychopaths is on general release now.