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Feature: S.W.A.T.

Tough action

Colin Farrell reveals how he loved playing with guns in S.W.A.T. while Samuel L Jackson divulges his co-star’s hell-raiser on-set antics…

Ever since delivering portentous Bible quotations as a prelude to some violent act of vengeance in Pulp Fiction, Samuel L Jackson has borne the title of the coolest actor in Hollywood. It’s a mantle that hangs lightly on him, as the man who lobbied for a role in Star Wars – and returns in Episode 3 as Mace Windu – is not so cool that he won’t show his enthusiasm for the job. In films like S.W.A.T. he gets the chance to fulfil a boys’ own adventure that clearly gives him a thrill even now.

“Oh I love playing cops and robbers,” he beams, “I always did when I was a kid, and I watched these kind of movies when I was growing up. So this was a great opportunity to do a straight ahead, popcorn movie, clear cut good guys, clear cut bad guys. I could just go ahead and do it, and yeah it was kind of fun!”

Fun, but with a degree of discipline too, as Jackson’s portrayal of ‘Hondo’ Harrison carried with it an authority that Jackson took seriously both on screen and off. During the long, cold nights of practical training to transform a ragtag group of actors into a credible force of elite cops on screen, he found himself cast in the role of leader once more.

“Throughout the training period we got to know each other quite well,” he adds, “doing all the stuff with all the real S.W.A.T guys: going in and out of buildings, running down stairs spending cold evenings together and going in and out of abandoned rooms in this old hotel we trained in. They would hide guys in there and we had to go in and find them.

“Some of those nights you do have a real laugh, but other times, like after the 25th take people start to drift. At this point it was kind of like my responsibility to say: ‘Come on guys let’s pull this together so we can get this done and maybe go home’. Maybe!”

Irish actor Colin Farrell has come very far, very fast. The Dublin born 27-year-old was plucked from obscurity when Joel Schumacher cast him in Tigerland, and he has assembled an impressively diverse list of credits in the four years since then. One key to his ubiquity seems to be that he can play an American convincingly, fitting seamlessly into the all American cast of S.W.A.T. without ever seeming disingenuous.

“I do find the American accent difficult,” he has said. “But it’s another avenue into a character, another form of separating yourself from who you’re playing. It is getting a little bit easier the more American characters I play.”

While he is as likely to appear in the gossip columns as in the movie’s reviews, Farrell makes no apologies for living the life of a normal, red-blooded single guy in his 20s. And why should he? S.W.A.T. co-star Samuel L Jackson had doubtless heard his reputation, but was reportedly impressed with the younger man’s work ethic.

by Anwar Brett

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Image © Visual Imagination Ltd, S.W.A.T. © Columbia Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Ultimate DVD #52
April 2004
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