Appearing on Wednesday’s Wanda Sykes-hosted Jimmy Kimmel Live, Colin Farrell shared proof that his COVID lockdown was, perhaps predictably, more adventurous than yours. While filming his role as amoral seaman Henry Drax in the AMC+ period drama The North Water, Farrell showed just how playing a murderous madman (coupled with the cabin fever of filming a snowball’s throw from the actual North Pole) can get to a guy, showing off the video of him stripping down to his underpants and socks to leap right into the Arctic Ocean. As Farrell noted when telling Sykes how he’d had to crack his frozen-solid booties from his feet after the swim, he responded to a crew member’s challenge to swim out further into the reach of all-but-frozen water with a thoroughly melodious Irish “fuck that.”
Fair enough, since, while Farrell did add a bit of bulk to play the series’ voyage-hardened central antagonist, no layer of Method actor weight can measure up to the natural insulation of the region’s all-too-real polar bear denizens, who the actor noted, would occasionally amble within cellphone footage range of the set. Throughout his appearance, Farrell waxed emotional about, well, everything, telling Sykes that he’s grateful there was never a run-in with the world’s largest land carnivore, noting that, “if it did what nature would prescribe it does, then somebody might have shot it, and that would have been a disaster, begging the whole question of a TV show, and is it worth it.” Luckily, The North Waters’ bear-spotters were never put in the position, leaving Farrell to merely endanger himself by leaping into the coldest water there is that isn’t actually ice.
Speaking of keeping Colin Farrell alive despite himself, the Voyagers star was up-front about how much he initially underestimated the global pandemic. Doing an unflattering impression of himself at the start of COVID, Farrell, while in London filming his role in The Batman, confessed to being one of those “It’s only the flu” naysayers—right up until he squeaked out of the county before the border was closed. Arriving back to a Los Angeles Farrell described as “Armageddon,” the actor recounted how he immediately spotted a friend stocking up with quarantine supplies at the local Gelson’s, looking “like he was about to perform oral surgery.” So, unlike certain other celebrities (sorry, “celebrities”) we could mention, Farrell took the lives of himself, his family, and the world at large into account and stocked up on PPE and socially distanced snacks. (He and Sykes gave thanks to the still-masked Kimmel crowd, while he pointed out how the vaccinated host and guest still keep a healthy six-foot distance for their chat.)
For Farrell, playing a villain is nothing new, but he said of his The North Water’s character, “There is a darkness at the heart of this fella that is the color of night.” In contrast, the actor himself was his usual, effortlessly charming self in person, at one point legitimately tearing up while describing what a truly terrible and trying year it’s been for everybody, especially L.A.’s homeless population. Decrying the “ugliness” of this year, Farrell also admiringly called out the “essential things happening that have needed to happen” as well, before becoming openly emotional in condemning himself for not doing more for his adopted home city’s unhoused. “I say that knowin’ full well how fortunate I am, that I live in a nice house, I have a very safe existence,” said Farrell feelingly, telling Sykes, “Am I doin’ anything about it right now? No. I’d like to think about doin’ something better but I don’t... understand how so many people can be on the street.” Playing a literally ice-cold murderer might be in Colin Farrell’s wheelhouse as an actor, but he seems a pretty decent bloke in real life, even if he chided himself for “tearing up here like a[n expletive deleted]” while talking about his fellow human beings. And bears.
The North Water premieres on AMC+ on July 15.