Elizabeth Taylor and Colin Farrell
Ethan Miller/Getty; Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
02/28/2014 AT 10:35 AM EST
became close friends with Elizabeth Taylor
toward the end of her life, but the usually suave actor says he was a nervous wreck the first time he met her.
"I had less anxiety waiting for the results of a home pregnancy test," Farrell, 37, cracked to reporters Thursday in Los Angeles about waiting for the late star to greet him at her home. "And that's the truth, that's not just a cheap joke. That's the truth."
The Winter's Tale
leading man spoke at the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation Art Auction & Benefit at the Los Angeles Center of Photography, taking the audience behind the scenes of his special relationship with the screen legend.
He wistfully recounted meeting Taylor's manager in 2009 at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, where his son was born
and where she was having a stent placed into her heart. Farrell asked her manager to give Taylor his regards. Days later, he received orchids and a handwritten note from the screen legend.
But when Farrell went to meet Taylor, she was fashionably tardy – something she was famous for.
"[Her manager] was there, he opened the door, he said, 'Come on in. She should be down in a minute.' And seconds turned into minutes and minutes turned back to seconds," Farrell told the crowd. "I was very, very nervous, and I waited for an hour, but Dame Elizabeth … only she could be socially late at her own house. An hour passed and she came out, and we sat and we spoke and I laughed and I had the most bewitching hour of my life, and I left on a cloud."
As Farrell recounted to Ellen DeGeneres
in December, that meeting led to nearly two years of late-night phone calls between the stars before Taylor died in 2011
. She was 79.
"I was allowed in whatever way she would let me, as a friend," Farrell said Thursday. "And it was a pretty extraordinary reality."
Reporting by GABRIELLE OLYA