At the Comic-Con panel for "Fright Night," director Craig Gillespie, writer Marti Noxon and stars Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots and Christopher Mintz-Plasse all showed up to plug the new horror movie. But as far as quite a few fans were concerned, they all played second fiddle to the guy playing the movie's decidedly non-glittery vampire villain: Colin Farrell

Some of that could be excitement that Farell, long a bad boy off screen, would be a very, very bad boy on it for "Fright Night." "I wanted to write a vampire who didn't play the piano, nothing against that in the original. But I missed a viciousness and sexuality I felt Colin imbued." On stage, however, Farrell was hardly vicious, instead joking around with his co-stars, poking fun at himself and seemingly having a good time.

The star, whose bad rep has included the usual stints in rehab and a sex tape, explained his improved attitude. "I have enjoyed the work a lot more the last 5 or 6 years. I came to success really quickly, the idea of coming up fast and the chaos around you; it was insane. And i personally lost sight of why i went to my first acting class when i was 17 in Dublin. So the last six years I reconnected with the Colin who was 17 and didn't know anything, because my lack of understanding bred curiosity. I reconnected with the mystery of the whole thing. It's a lot of fun. It's such a fortunate place to find yourself."


Farrell wasn't shy about making fun of his previous behavior. When a fan asked him if he found it easier to pick up wearing fangs or pick up salsa for a previous movie, he joked, "I can certainly remember picking up fangs better than I can picking up the mojitos. Bit of a black out."


He even joked about his previous drinking problem by saying, "My Jerry [his character name] has to borrow a six-pack off the neighbor. Reputations, you just can't shake them."


Farrell did have moments of seriousness, however. The self-described vampire movie fan who saw the original when he was "10 or eleven or so" said he initially hesitated to take the role. "When I heard they were making it, I was dubious at first. Oh, here we go, Hollywood and its originality. But I really liked it. I'd done three or four films that were serious, and I wanted to have fun. There was enough homage to the original and enough that was different, it had a new direction... It was contemporized in a really clever way."


The series of clips (some of which had been censored for liberal use of the F word) were likely familiar to the audience (most of the material has been available online), but Farrell easily stole his scenes (though a scene with "Dr. Who" star David Tennant, who wasn't present but filmed a short message for the crowd, was met with hearty applause). But even though Farrell was happy to play a bloodsucker, he isn't fired up to get into a superhero unitard anytime soon. "I kind of played the superhero when I played Alexander [the Great] and it didn't pan out. Some of it's cultural, but I didn't grow up in the world of comic books or the lore that comic books represent. I don't know the backstory. But a lot of it I really enjoy."


At the end of the session, a female fan screamed for Farrell to give her his paper name placard, which he agreed to do as Mintz-Plasse offered his as well, adding "I have Hershey's kisses!" As Farrell bent down to sign the placard before handing it over, a fast thinking camera guy took a shot of Farrell's rear view, inspiring Gillespie to kid the actor about going commando. 


Farrell, blushing, hiked up his pants and joked about having a pimple on his butt. Well, it was a good moment while it lasted. 




Liane Bonin Starr is an author, screenwriter and former writer for Her byline has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Variety and a lot of other places. Her last book was called "a scandalously catty, guilty pleasure" by Jane magazine. Expect the same from Starr Raving.