DUBAI // Colin Farrell had planned to take a helicopter ride yesterday to get the best view of Dubai, which he described as a "fascinating city", after doing his bit at the seventh Dubai International Film Festival.
The actor first had to recover from a fever, however, and get through the myriad questions put forward during "A Conversation with Colin Farrell" at the First Group Theatre in Madinat Jumeirah. He still came away impressed.
"I didn't expect it to be as beautiful as it is," he said. "Last night, I took a stroll down the beach, and it was 3am, the moon was almost full, and I could see the Burj Al Arab and just thought it was a great experience."
Farrell, born and raised in Dublin, was featured at the festival in his latest movie project, The Way Back. The director Peter Weir and fellow cast member Jim Sturgess also attended the screening of the film.
"I play a Russian criminal who escapes from a Siberian gulag," Farrell said. "It was very different from any role I've played. My scenes were shot in Bulgaria in winter and that was tough."
While his first major role was in the 1998 television show Ballykissangel, it was when he was cast in the director Joel Schumacher's movie Tigerland in 2000 that his career took off.
"When I was 21, I went to Hollywood and stayed there for three weeks, having lots of meetings, but I never really understood why I was there," Farrell said. "I didn't get any roles, so I flew back to Dublin. Then I was told that Joel was in London looking to cast for Tigerland, so I went to meet with him."
He described being cast in that film as a "defining moment" because it led him to partner with Mr Schumacher on another project, Phone Booth.
"Phone Booth was a very intimate film, and I still have friendships that stemmed from it," he said. "We blocked the shoot in the street for nine days, so we literally hit the ground running."
He then went on to star in Minority Report with Tom Cruise in 2002, and The Recruit with Al Pacino a year later.
"Working with Pacino was a trip," he said. "For me, he was right up there, and boy does he have energy."
He paused for a second, recalling a scene Pacino was not satisfied with.
"I went to his trailer afterwards and he said, 'I don't think we got it, kid'," he said while audience members laughed in response to his impersonation of The Godfather star. "He's a great actor who is funny and so passionate about acting."
His next project, Fright Night, a remake of Tom Holland's classic 1995 horror film of the same name, is due to be released next year.
After the session, Hawra al Yousef, an Emirati who is a longtime fan of Farrell's, said she had enjoyed the way he was not "restricted in how he talks".
"I liked him before and even more so now," the 19-year-old said. "He is funny and great in interacting with the crowd."
Fatima Mohamed, a South African visiting Dubai, said she was happy she got the opportunity to see Farrell. "He is brilliant, funny and very good-looking," she said.