At 19, Farrell does his first modeling shoot, taken in an abandoned Colgate plant in Sydney. But the fit actor claims he invests little effort in maintaining his physique – his methods for staying fit include laying off food and indulging in his beloved pints of Guinness. "I don't go to the gym or practice yoga," he tells In Style in 2002. "The closest thing I have to a nutritionist is the Carlsberg Beer Co. I just have the appetite of a pigeon."
Farrell hits the small screen in the first of seven episodes on the BBC series Ballykissangel. He lands the role quickly. "His audition ended in two minutes flat," Irish actor Victor Burke tells PEOPLE. But "a few weeks later, Colin rang me to say he'd got the job."
Without having read the script for Tigerland, Farrell auditions and earns himself a callback and the part on charm alone. The movie kicks off Farrell's rapid ascent to stardom. In it, he plays Bozz, a rebellious soldier who helps his friends escape the army before they are sent off to Vietnam. Though the film grosses only $139,500, it wins Farrell acclaim and a professional relationship with director Joel Schumacher.
Farrell weds actress Amelia Warner in Tahiti, but the couple split just four months later. "Too fast, too young," the actor (who had Warner's name tattooed around his ring finger) tells PEOPLE.
American Outlaws premieres, with Farrell starring as Jesse James. What's an Irish guy doing playing an American bandit, Interview asks? "I have no idea," Farrell tells the magazine. "I thought, 'I got a chance to play Jesse James. I better take it.'"
At the premiere of The Recruit, Farrell, 26, sets tongues wagging when he walks the red carpet with a 21-year-old Britney Spears. The two are seen together again that night, smooching on his Chateau Marmont hotel-room balcony. The actor insists in PEOPLE, "We're just mates and we're not dating."
Farrell plays an assassin named Bullseye alongside Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner in Daredevil, a comic-book adaptation which grosses $102.5 million. Costar Garner jokes to PEOPLE, "He's taking advantage of how adorable he is. And I'm glad for him. But he better not get close to my sister!"
Farrell plays a publicist in the line of a sniper's fire in Phone Booth with Katie Holmes. Following the success of Daredevil and Phone Booth, Farell scores his third No. 1 premiere with the release of S.W.A.T., costarring Samuel L. Jackson, L.L. Cool J and Michelle Rodriguez.
Farrell nabs a spot on PEOPLE's 50 Most Beautiful issue, and films a well-publicized nude scene for the drama, A Home at the End of the World. But when the film is released, the scene is cut, causing a stir. "I don't think it was needed," Farrell tells EW. "Now with all the f----- press, it seems like a marketing ploy, because [people] will go to see what they're not going to see."
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