The star also opens up about how he "fought valiantly for a cigar" for the classic Batman villain, and how his son was "utterly horrified" by his transformative makeup.
The biggest thing that blew people away about the first trailer for "The Batman" wasn't the new design of the Batmobile or even Robert Pattinson in costume. Instead, it was how shockingly unrecognizable Colin Farrell was as the Penguin.
Even Danny DeVito, who brought the character to sinister life in "Batman Returns" nearly 30 years ago now was at least somewhat recognizable. Had fans not already known that Farrell had been cast in the role, they'd have likely never guess that it was him beneath the heavy prosthetics.
It turns out Farrells' fans weren't the only ones freaked out by his creepy look, either. In a recent interview with "Extra," the actor shared that his son was actually "utterly horrified" by his transformation. Even better, he has the reaction on his phone.
It was a truly immersive and transformative makeup job, making Farrell almost unrecognizable to himself and the film's cast and crew. "It just sparked my imagination and continued to every day that I went to work," Farrell told "Extra." "I just felt like I had such license to inhabit a character in a way I had never been given."
He shared that it was actually more jarring to look at himself in the mirror and hear his regular voice coming out of that face, rather than the one he created for the character.
But as much as his portrayal dominated the trailers and early conversation for the film, the Penguin is not the primary villain of the film, nor is he even in it very much.
Farrell shared that he has about nine minutes total screentime. "I’m only in it for five or six scenes, so I can’t wait to see the film because it won’t be ruined by my presence," he joked during a recent interview on "Jake's Takes."
He also talked with them about his efforts to allow the Penguin his signature cigarette and holder, or at least a cigar. But, like with Emma Stone's recent portrayal of Cruella De Vil, Hollywood is holding hard against depicting smoking in flims, even if it's in the hands of villains.
"At one stage I said, ‘I can have it unlit! Just let me have it unlit.’ They were like, ‘No,'" he lamented, laughing that it seemed unlikely to him that "a bunch of 12-year-olds are going to start smoking Cuban cigars" because his character lights up. "The Batman" is rated PG-13.
Perhaps he'll find a little more leeway on that front when he revives the character for an upcoming HBO Max series. An established crime boss in the more recent DC Comics Batman universe, Farrell said that his version of Oswald Cobblepot isn't quite there yet.
He told "Extra" that his Penguin is at an "earlier stage in his career than we’re used to seeing him ... He has great expectations, but he’s nowhere near where he wants to be at."
That sets him up for a bigger role in the "Batman" franchise's future, but also opens the door for a compelling story that's already been compared to cinema classic "Scarface" by the show's producer, Dylan Clark.
"We're doing one with Colin, seeing Oz [Oswald Cobblepot] rise to power, almost like a 'Scarface' story," Clark told SFX Magazine, per /Film, of the upcoming spinoff. "It's exciting to do something like that just as a standalone, but it speaks to the character and our movie, so that you'll go back to the movie [and say], 'Oh, I see that backstory there, that line refers to this."
Telling fans that the show will pick up where the film leaves off, Farrell told Entertainment Weekly, "We have to get into what made him the man he is."
Dropping a possible hint about the film itself, he added, "We'll get to go on a little kind of left turn off to the world of Oz and how he's beginning to kind of dream of filling a potential power vacuum that may exist."
"It's a lovely, lovely character, and explores vulnerabilities," he said of the role. "His violence is apparent, his propensity for violence and his ability to use it as a tool is apparent, but [also] to see we all have soft spots. Every single person. And to be able to find that location, dig around it would be fun."
This isn't going to necessarily be over-the-top superhero fun, either, in the vein of "Peacemaker." But the violence and depravity of that series certainly opens the door for a much darker super-villain story. Farrell told "Extra" that "Batman" director Matt Reeves wanted a "very grounded" take on the villain, as opposed to DeVito's mutated monster.
"[Reeves] wanted everything to be relatable, to be kind of recognizable in this physical world we share, whether it’s the level of corruption or the degree of violence that’s prevalent in Gotham."
In other words, there's a strong chance that Batman will play almost no role in the television series as Oz settles into the business of building his criminal empire as the "Gentleman of Crime."
There is no release date yet for HBO Max's spinoff series "The Penguin," but fans can get their first glimpse of Colin Farrell's full portrayal when "The Batman" is released to theaters on March 4.