“Ondine is a seal woman, a beautiful creature with lovely hair that you can’t help falling in love with,” says Jordan.
“They appear, they make you fall in love with them, they mess you up and then go back to the sea. Just like a real woman,” says Farrell.
“My character Syracuse comes from a small town and he’s given love a chance once and it resulted in a dissolved marriage. He equated love to loss, in all aspects of his life. His mother has just recently passed, his seven-year-old daughter is very ill, and yet he’s not filled with self-pity.”
Farrell clearly loves the magic realist elements of the film, too.
“Syracuse meets Ondine when he catches her in his nets. He doesn’t meet her in the pub or over a nice portion of fish and chips as so often happens romantically in Ireland on a Friday night. You know, ‘G’is your number love and I’ll text ya.’
“Ondine brings something back into his life that he’d stopped believing in. That reinsertion of love into his life is what she brings.”
Critics have been calling "Ondine" a fractured fairy tale, in homage to the classic cartoon The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Jordan laughs at the comparison.
“My whole life has been a fractured fairytale. I’ve always loved fairytales,” he says.
“I like story and characters that don’t fully understand themselves. I’ve never made an entirely realistic film in my life. I was told too many myths and legends by my father as a kid -- he was a national schoolteacher and he used to love to terrify the life out of me. He told me a load of ghost stories that I’ve probably never recovered from.”
Farrell laughs at Jordan’s experience but doesn’t share it.
“My dad plagued me in other ways. He was a football coach on the football team I played for in Dublin and that accounts for the nightmares he left me,” says Farrell.
“I didn’t feel the need to research my character. All I needed was in the script from day one.”
Jordan adds that "Ondine" was a labor of love for him, because it freed him of talking about Ireland in a certain way.
“I’ve made a lot of harsh movies in Ireland. I’ve made a lot of movies about violence, and I thought could I make a film that is terribly simple and terribly forgiving where nobody dies in the end,” he says.
Asked what it was like to finally play a character who doesn’t shoot first and ask questions later, Farrell jokes, “It was so boring. I didn’t get to scalp anyone or remove their molars.
“Actually it was really lovely to play a character that wasn’t burdened by his past, who cared a lot about important things and not at all about the unimportant things that consume a lot of us.
“It was the first time in 12 years I played a character I wasn’t looking forward to leaving. I really miss him. I even miss his name.”
Ondine opens nationwide on June 18.
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