‘Phone Booth’ at 20: Star Colin Farrell on how Mel Gibson, Will Smith and Jim Carrey all almost took the role before him
Posted April 4, 2023 by: Admin
The iconic thriller Phone Booth, starring Colin Farrell, is marking its 20th anniversary this Tuesday. However, the film could have been released as early as the 1960s, as screenwriter Larry Cohen had initially pitched the idea of a man trapped inside a phone booth to Alfred Hitchcock. Despite not being able to solve the conundrum of why the man couldn’t leave until the late 1990s, Hollywood was immediately hooked when Cohen came up with the idea of having a sniper hold the man hostage.
The screenplay attracted interest from top-notch filmmakers and actors such as Steven Spielberg, Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise, and Will Smith. Farrell revealed that he had several meetings with Jim Carrey, who was initially going to take the lead role. However, Carrey later dropped out due to feeling uncomfortable with the character.
The role then fell to Farrell, who had just starred in Tigerland and was gaining heat in the industry. Farrell played Stuart Shepherd, an arrogant publicist who cheats on his wife and picks up a call in a New York City phone booth to hear a sniper (Kiefer Sutherland) on the other end, demanding he confess to his affair and threatening his life.
Despite the film being set in just one location, Phone Booth was never boring or tedious, according to Farrell. He spent nine days in the booth and shot only one day in Times Square, a feat he said never happens with feature films. Phone Booth was a challenge, but it was also a lot of fun, Farrell reminisced.
Joel Schumacher, who directed Phone Booth, initially pitched Farrell to the studio for the lead role. But because Farrell was relatively unknown at the time, the studio initially rejected him. However, after Carrey backed out, Farrell was finally given the role, which helped propel his career forward.
Phone Booth may have been made 20 years ago, but its suspenseful story and expert direction still make it a must-watch thriller today.