Essential Viewing: 13 Colin Farrell Movies and TV Shows You Must See


Colin Farrell is an Irish actor who has captivated audiences since the 1900s. He’s played every type of role, earning him credits in over 64 productions.

Farrell started his acting career in Ireland, where he starred for 18 episodes in a 1998 BBC drama series called Ballykissangel.

The US got their first taste of his brooding good looks, sexy voice, great hair, and extensive talent in The War Zone in 1999.

In the following years, he racked up multiple acting credits, including some of his best works from 2002 to 2024.

Although he’s more of a movie actor, that hasn’t stopped him from lending his talents to several series over the years.

Colin Farrell at the Global Down Syndrome Foundation 10th Anniversary BBBY

Along with a series to be released in 2024, and his newest work, which is first on this list of essential viewing opportunities for Colin Farrell fans.

Sugar (2024)

Role: John Sugar. Streaming on Apple+

Farrell shocked the TV world by taking on the role of Sugar, a private detective with a titillating secret.

Sugar handles a case in Tokyo before receiving a job request from a famous Hollywood producer, Jonathan Siegel (played by James Cromwell).

Beyond His Comprehension - Sugar Season 1 Episode 5

As he tries to find Siegel’s missing granddaughter, who has a drug problem, he runs into problems with secrets that the family would rather keep buried.

As if the show with Colin as the main star wasn’t exciting enough, fans discover a major secret of Sugar’s that will change everything in Sugar Season 1 Episode 6.

We’ve seen Farrell in a wide variety of roles, so we know he’s got incredible acting skills. And while he’s played law enforcement before, you’ve never seen him like Sugar.

Be sure you’re checking out the new series to learn his big secret!

She's Your Sister - Sugar Season 1 Episode 5

The Batman (2022)

Role: The Penguin. Streaming on Max

No matter how often they remake our favorite comic books, we’re always excited when it happens again.

There are multiple remakes of the Batman character and villain counterparts. Over the years, directors have gone in different directions, from overly comedic to dark and depressing.

Extensive makeup work turned Colin Farrell into the Penguin.

The 2022 version of The Batman was a gritty, dark reimagining starring Robert Pattinson as our favorite billionaire, Bruce Wayne, and the masked crusader Batman and Colin as our favorite bad guy.

Farrell had some big shoes to fill in his role as the villain, The Penguin.

Other names that have previously fulfilled the role include greats like Danny DeVito, Jason Spisak, Wayne Knight, and David Dastmalchian.

The makeup work done to transform Colin into Oswald Cobblepot was huge. He was almost unrecognizable, although his skills as an actor were shown more than any other actor in the remake.

Farrell was so great at playing Cobblepot that he is getting his own series, set to release sometime in 2024.

Colin Farrell is Cobblepot

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

Role: Padraic Suilleabhain. Available to rent from Amazon or Apple+

The Banshees of Inisherin astonished viewers and critics alike, amassing nine award nominations and winning three awards from the Golden Globe. 

Farrell won Best Actor — Musical or Comedy, and the film was voted in the Top Ten of 2022 and one of the best films of the 21st century.

Farrell plays Padraic Suilleabhain, an Irishman in a feud with his lifelong best friend Colm, played by Brendon Gleeson in post-civil war Ireland in 1923.

 Padraic Suilleabhain is troubled

When Colm randomly ends their friendship, Padraic takes extreme measures to change his mind, along with his sister and a troubled local youth.

But his attempts have disastrous consequences.

The captivating blend of dark humor and powerful emotional undernotes pairs with the breathtaking scenery of the remote Irish island.

Hands down, one of Farrell’s most memorable performances of his career.

Colin Farrell in an Irish pub

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Role: Percival Graves. Streaming on Max

Throughout his career, Farrell has played a myriad of roles, both as a good guy and a villain.

Along with his portrayal as the uber-bad guy Penguin in The Batman, he’s also made an impact as the guy we loved to hate in the first Harry Potter spinoff, Fantastic Beasts.

Colin Farrell in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Percival Graves is an Auror and the Director of Magical Security for the Magical Congress of the USA (MACUSA) and the man responsible for sentencing hero Newt Scamander to death.

The franchise continued with two more films without featuring Farrell. In the first movie, the storyline revealed that Graves wasn’t who he claimed.

In fact, he was a dark wizard named Gellert Grindelwald, played by Johnny Depp. Once the movie shows Graves in his real form, we no longer see Colin.

Farrell’s work in this young adult fiction flick was another successful move that gave us a broader understanding of the deep wealth of talent he has to offer.

Colin Farrell Fantastic Beasts

The Lobster (2016)

Role: David. Available to stream from Max

The Lobster is an out-of-the-box composition working in comedy, drama, sci-fi, and romance to entertain and bewilder the audience.

In the near future, the world has become dystopian, and survival isn’t a luxury; it’s a must.

Farrell stars as David, a newly single divorcee who must find a new romantic partner after his wife leaves. The catch?

Colin Farrell has 45 days to find love

He only has 45 days to do it. Single people are sent to a hotel where they must find love within the allotted time or transform into an animal they choose.

As the title claims, David’s animal of choice is the lobster. Now that he has his forever picked out, will he be able to find true love in time?

Or is he destined to live as a crustacean for the rest of his life?

Then again, he might join the group of anarchists living outside the hotel’s boundaries. Who needs love when you have like-minded comrades who fight the system as much as you?

Fans have mixed opinions on the odd storyline, but everyone agrees that Colin is what makes the movie work.

Who would want to be a lobster

True Detective (2015 – 8 episodes)

Role: Detective Ray Velcoro. Streaming on Max

True Detective is an ongoing anthology police series that has featured some of the biggest names in Hollywood.

Along with the talented Colin Farrell, we’ve also seen Jodie Foster, Woody Harrelson, Rachel McAdams, Matthew McConaughey, and Vince Vaughn in varying roles throughout four seasons.

Farrell appeared on the show during its second season, playing Ray Velcoro, a corrupt detective in a California town.

Colin Farrell in True Detective Season 2

Along with his reputation for playing fast and loose with the law, Velcoro has a violent problem that he often uses to get away with all his illegal doings.

But as distasteful as his character was, we had moments that made him more likable, such as his relationship with his son and the history of his wife’s abuse.

Roles like this really show off Colin’s acting chops. He makes a convincing bad guy that we can’t help but love.

Fright Night (2011)

Role: Jerry Dandrige. Available on Tubi

Colin Farrell becomes a vampire

Anyone from the 1900s might remember the OG Fright Night comedy horror flick from 1985.

The 2011 remake starred Colin Farrell as Jerry Dandrige, a vampire who moves in next door to a nosy teenager, Charley Brewster, in a suburb of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Charley learns Jerry’s vampire secret from a friend and teams up with a local vampire hunter to rid their neighborhood of the evil prince of darkness.

As with many movies in the 80s, Fright Night is an equal mix of horror and goofy comedy. Farrell gave an outstanding performance to rival that of the original Jerry, played by Chris Sarandon.

Colin Farrell as a vicious vampire

Anytime we can see Colin in a role outside his usual badass authoritarian self is a good time. Even when it’s an evil, bloodsucking vampire.

In Bruges (2008)

Role: Ray. Available to rent from Amazon and Apple+

Given Farrell’s Irish nationality, it’s no surprise he decided to take on a role as an Irish hitman sent to Belgium to hide out after a failed mission.

This dark-humor movie stars Colin as hitman Ray and Brendan Gleeson as his older partner, Ken. Fans get a hilarious blend of the many differences between generational age gaps.

Their trouble starts when Farrell successfully pulls off his assignment of killing a Dublin priest. But he also killed an innocent child at the same time.

Colin Farrell is a horrible hitman

Along with the heartbreak of seeing a child murdered, we also get a tour of the beautiful Bruges city and some rowdy political incorrectness.

Add strong irony, justified killings, and lots of action, and you have the makings of one of Farrell’s greatest works while capturing his nationality and diverse talent.

Miami Vice (2006)

Role: Sonny Crockett. Available on Starz

Speaking of Farrell in an authority role, his work with co-star Jamie Foxx in the 2006 remake of Miami Vice was top-notch.

Crockett stares down a criminal

MV was originally in a TV series format, capturing everything we loved about the 80s.

Twenty years later, it got a facelift in the form of a two-hour movie featuring two of the decade’s biggest names.

Farrell and Foxx’s portrayal of the dynamic police duo, Crockett and Tubbs, captured the swagger and sexiness of the original pair and magnified it tenfold.

Colin gives a convincing performance as an undercover who crosses the line and falls for the wife of a Chinese-Cuban trafficker.

While we know it’s wrong, we can’t help but root for his relationship.

Colin Farrell stars in Miami Vice movie

SWAT (2003)

Role: Jim Street. Streaming on AMC+

SWAT originated as a series in the 1970s, lasting two seasons before going off the air.

Thanks to the trend of reboots and adaptations, SWAT became a movie in 2003. (It’s also an ongoing series on Paramount+.)

And boy, are we glad it did because it was one of the year’s best movies. It was a star-studded affair with a list of amazing A-listers.

SWAT Officer Jim Street by Colin Farrell

Along with Farrell’s amazing talents, we also see impressive acting from some of our favorites, like Samuel L. Jackson, LL Cool J, Michelle Rodiguez, and Josh Charles.

Colin plays Jim Street, a smartass, tarnished SWAT officer who gets a second chance to be on an elite police squad after he and his partner failed a mission.

Under Hondo’s (Jackson’s) tutelage, Street excels as a SWAT officer despite his tendency to break the rules.

Colin’s diverse talents made him the perfect candidate to play fast and loose with the role.

Especially when he had to handle the betrayal of finding out the bad guy he was chasing was his former partner and best friend.

Colin Farrell as Jim Street

Daredevil (2003)

Role: Bullseye. Available on Disney+

Daredevil came out amid a flurry of comic adaptations, so there was plenty of competition for comparison.

Compared to some of the better-received comics, like Spider-Man and Hulk, fans were less impressed by Daredevil.

The unfavorable reviews were due to a mix of a weak script, overdone action, and poorly matched cast members, like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner as the heroes and Colin Farrell and Michael Clark Duncan as the villains.  

Colin Farrell portrays a comic book villain.

Colin’s inclusion in the film is perhaps the only thing positive fans had to say about the dark adaptation with oddball humor.

Without Bullseye, the mismatched action scenes and stilted dialogue would have been a mass of clashing cinematology.

Hart’s War (2002)

Role: Lt. Tommy Hart. Available on Tubi

Farrell’s talents extend from playing bad guys to police and even a soldier, as seen in Hart’s War, one of his earlier roles.

A young Colin Farrell as a WWII POW

Colin plays alongside Bruce Willis, Cole Hauser, and Terrence Howard. He plays a law student who ends up in the military as an officer’s aide during World War II.

Hart is among a group of soldiers captured and held in a German prisoner-of-war camp.

When Lincoln Scott (Howard) gets accused of murdering a white prisoner, Colonel William McNamara (Willis) gives the case to Hart to defend.

Hart’s War was one of Colin’s first appearances on the big screen. With his brooding eyes, good looks, and sexy voice, he stole viewers’ hearts.

Colin Farrell in WWII uniform

His portrayal of a scared college student turned soldier really sold the story and gave us our first taste of his impressive talents.

Minority Report (2002)

Role: Department of Justice agent Danny Witwer. Streaming on Paramount+

Before Farrell became a leading man, he played supporting roles with bigger actors like Tom Cruise.

Minority Report is a futuristic police fiction set in 2054 with a mind-bending yet genius premise.

Colin Farrell gazes intently.

Most criminal activity — specifically murders — has ended thanks to a prototype “Precrime” program consisting of three precogs (clairvoyant humans).

People who are found guilty of planning a premeditated murder are caught before they commit the crime and are imprisoned in an electrically-caused coma.

Farrell’s character, DOJ Witwer, audits the Precrime program. During his audit, one of the three precogs experiences a minority report — a situation where all three precogs don’t have the same vision of future events.

The entire story is unusual and a bit scary, but it works due to the talents of the cast. It’s not every day we see Tom Cruise as a potential bad guy.

Farrell’s participation helped cement his desire to be a known actor and is one of his breakout roles. The movie saw great success despite Farrell’s character getting killed off before the movie ended.

DOJ agent Danny Witwer stares at the precogs

American Outlaws (2001)

Role: Jesse James. Available to stream on Tubi or for rent on Amazon and Apple+

Before Colin played a police officer, soldier, or comic book character, he lent his talents to one of the best modern-day Western comedies of the decade.

Many actors have portrayed the illusive and infamous American outlaw Jesse James. But no one has done it as well as Farrell.

A young Colin Farrell seduces.

Full of equal parts action, comedy, and love story, American Outlaws is a movie everyone can enjoy, no matter their preference.

Along with Farrell as Jesse, we enjoyed other big names like Gabriel Macht as Frank James, Scott Caan as Jesse’s best friend, Cole Young, and Ali Larter as James’ love interest.

There is plenty to appreciate about the origin story of the James-Young gang, a group of ranchers and soldiers who banded together to fight back against the railroad, which was trying to steal their homes.

Fans fell in love with our first taste of Colin in his breakout lead role, from the adorable dimples and shy smile to his fierce loyalty to his family and townsfolk.

Jesse James has a sly smile

While we’ve only covered our top 13 picks for Colin Farrell’s top roles, this list is not representative of all of Farrell’s impressive acting career. There are over 24 movies with Farrell as a member of the cast.

So, what work is your favorite and why? What role do you think he played the best?

Give us your thoughts in the comments.

We love to chat with our readers!

Sara Trimble is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow her on X.

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