Colin Farrell and Emma Thompson have a lot in common: They’re both decorated actors from the British Isles; they co-starred in the 2013 biographical drama, Saving Mr. Banks; they savor a cigarette and cheeky banter. They’re friends. But beyond that, they’re friends who flirt with a capital F. And in 2023, as someone who smokes, jokes, and studied abroad in London seven years ago, I’m fiending to make a movie with them—the kind that typically doesn’t get result little gold statues but sizable...lawsuits.
This week, Vanity Fair joined the pair in a Zoom conversation about loneliness, legacy, and their recent highly publicized, critically acclaimed projects (Good Luck to You, Leo Grande and The Banshees of Inisherin, respectively). This had no right to be a titillating discussion, but reader, the chemistry was steamier than that time Farrell tenderly kissed a journalist mid-interview. It starts like this:
Vanity Fair: What do you remember about the first time you met?
Emma Thompson: I think there were two things before we started shooting. You and I had a dinner together, just the two of us, in a little restaurant and I remember you were looking very-
Colin Farrell: Scruffy?
Thompson: Sexy. You had your shirt undone. I think you had one button undone that was, I felt, going a little far.
Oh. So, Farrell shows up to dinner with a woman nearly 20 years his senior with his shirt unbuttoned? Mind you, by the time Saving Mr. Banks began production, he’d already gotten sober and banished the bad boy persona. Sounds like a state of affairs—and a very watchable porn. My brow is raised, and my body is...trembling. It gets better.
Farrell makes a joke—I’d laugh like this should we ever meet—about this dinner taking place on a Tuesday, noting that Tuesday is his “sexy” day. Then Thompson divulges she privately took a shine to his slutty little shirt and that they shared a “naughty” smoke break.
“I thought, ‘I like this guy’s style. He’s not afraid to just live it.’ And then we had a really interesting chat and we smoked, which was quite naughty,” she says in the interview. “It felt quite naughty because it’s Los Angeles. You light up a cigarette and you might as well be shooting up in the street.”
I mean, my version of a naughty smoke is a Pall Mall, but just generally lighting up in Los Angeles sounds hot, too. Anyway! The conversation veers into their craft, and the pair laud each other’s recent performances. Thompson says Farrell as the admirably—foolishly—loyal Pádraic Súilleabháin in Banshees broke her heart in two, while Farrell reciprocates by praising her turn as shy, inexperienced Nancy Stokes in Good Luck to You. These two have clearly greatly analyzed the other’s work and, very sweetly, have no shortage of kind things to say about each other. At one point, they discuss how their characters encounter loneliness and that Farrell’s loses himself, while Thompson’s experiences the opposite in the form of sexual liberation and learning to ask for what she wants—as so few women do. Farrell sexily concurs.
Thompson: I must have gone to school with a lot of these girls who grew up thinking that first of all, it was very important for girls to be good, and not to protest, and not to make a fuss, and not to embarrass anybody, and not to ask for what they want. And so many don’t, as life goes on, they don’t develop the habit of working out what they might like because it’s not what it’s about. It’s what other people need from them. Because women do absolutely everything for everyone, all the fucking time. You know?
Farrell: It’s so true!
Eventually, the conversation basically just culminates in Thompson posing the question practically tattooed on my lips.
Thompson: Are you having good sex at the moment, Col?
Farrell: What, love?
Thompson: I said, are you having good sex at the moment?
Farrell: Oh, God. That’s a different Zoom, darling. Email me.
Oh I’ll do you one better, Col. I’ll show up—with Mommy *Aubrey Plaza voice* Thompson—on your doorstep. I’m open
Now, lest anyone be confused, I’ve always been a fan. I think about Thompson’s “Both Sides Now” scene in Love Actually once a week, and I’ll be damned if In Bruges isn’t a perfect film. But my affection transcends their careers, of course.
These two just seem like they’re good fun. Sorry, I forgot Farrell is Irish—good craic. Speaking of, I’m with Ms. Houston—crack is whack—but craic? I’m a hound for it where it concerns this pair. Thompson is a noted pro-sex work legend, who’s apparently quite fond of room service, watching movies, and getting ketchup from those fancy mini glass bottles all over the sheets. And Farrell is a reformed hellion with two sons, a sex tape (so I’ve heard), and a refreshingly frank approach to sober living to show for it. And just good for measure, let’s briefly revisit a passage from this Elle interview:
I made love to a woman about two and half years after I got clean, and it was one of the most terrifying moments of my life. It was in the afternoon. The windows and the curtains were open. It was lovely, and to be crass, it wasn’t fucking. She was very gentle. But it was terrifying. Because I was just used to drunkenness and dark rooms and clubs and toilets and wherever.
Welp, whether it’s a swanky hotel, a breezy bedroom, or a dark toilet, I’m ready to [redacted] with these “friends.” And don’t worry, guys. I’ll bring the Heinz!