The Killing of a Sacred Deer Interview: Colin Farrell felt 'depressed' after shooting this dark movie (exclusive)

Stefan Pape
Yahoo Movies UK Contributor

There can be no denying just how bleak and disturbing a cinematic experience Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ provides, and it seems the viewers aren’t the only ones who are left feeling empty and cold, as lead star Colin Farrell admitted that the shoot took its toll.

“The headspace in this one was a little bit different, I was bit depressed by the end of it,” he tells Yahoo Movies in our interview above.

Farrell plays Dr. Steven Murphy, a leading heart surgeon forced into making an unthinkable sacrifice following a series of sinister encounters with teenager Martin (Barry Keoghan). Though distinctively dark in places, just like the Greek filmmaker’s preceding endeavour ‘The Lobster’, the film has a certain dark charm and wit to it – and Keoghan and Raffey Cassidy (who plays the doctor’s daughter Kim) explained to us that in spite of the narrative at hand, they had a real laugh on set.


“[Yorgos Lanthimos] is very caring,” Keoghan says. “As dark as these films are, I don’t know where that comes from because he’s a very light and funny man.” To which Cassidy agrees, “Even though the scenes were so dark everybody was always having a laugh on set.”

The younger members of the cast have to partake in pretty heavy scenes too, but Lanthimos told us that he didn’t explain the context to the actors, believing that children nowadays are smarter than the generation before them.

“They’re really smart kids, I’m always amazed by how every generation progresses, we were so dumb back in the day,” he says. “I generally don’t like to explain things to actors anyway, I don’t think they need to be perceiving what we do as reality, and I don’t think they need to tap into their emotions in order to create these scenes. We just tried to make it as fun and as light as possible because that’s the best way to make films, no matter how dark the subject is, I never try to create an atmosphere where what’s happening is real, it’s always constructed and we all know that. It was mostly fun for them I think.”

Farrell and Barry Keoghan in ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ (Photo: A24/courtesy Everett Collection)

It’s this very freedom the actors adhered to so positively, as he allows his actors the chance to find their our way into the role. The results point towards this approach being a triumphant one too, as ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ features several remarkable performances – particularly that of the resurgent Nicole Kidman as Farrell’s wife Anna.

“Yorgos stands back, he casts people that have a knowledge of his work, a knowledge of the realm of tonality he’s looking for,” Farrell says. “His direction is very specific, it can be ‘faster, slower, louder, quieter’ that kind of stuff. He steps back and lets you do your thing. He leaves you alone by and large, he’s not big on character back story. If you wanna piss him off you just ask him, ‘what am I feeling in this scene?’”

Finally Farrell discussed with Yahoo Movies his future projects, as he followed this shoot with Tim Burton’s ‘Dumbo’ and Steve McQueen’s ‘Widows’, which he shot simultaneously.

“It’s the first time I’ve done it in 20 years,” he said. “I started ‘Widows’ and did about two weeks, and then came to London and did a week on ‘Dumbo’, then went back and did another week on ‘Widows’. It was a little bit confusing. Two very different characters and two very different dialects. I don’t fancy doing it again. I got greedy.”

‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ is released on November 3.

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