Colin Farrell on New Detective Series Sugar and Favorite Batman Characters


Colin Farrell loves cinema, and so does John Sugar. Farrell plays the eponymous lead in Sugar, the new Apple TV+ series coming April 5 that is also in love with film, specifically of the noir variety. The show, which follows a mysterious private detective as he digs into a missing person’s case, intercuts clips from dozens of classic (and some obscure) black-and-white detective films, with John Sugar consciously emulating the romanticized notion of the private eye. He wears the classic black suit well, and drinks a mean cocktail.

But this is a very different crime mystery, something hinted by creator and writer Mark Protosevich’s past genre-bending work (The Cell, I Am Legend). The mystery of the show is ultimately about the often impenetrable, caliginous confines of the human condition. The chameleonic Farrell, who has another television series coming out with Max’s The Penguin, spoke with us about the show and, in honor of Oswald Cobblepot, his own favorite Batman characters.

‘Being a Swell Tide of Good in a World Filled with Dark Tsunamis’

Sugar 2024 TV Show poster with Colin Farrell

Sugar (2024)


Release Date
April 5, 2024

Colin Farrell , Kirby Howell-Baptiste , Amy Ryan , Nate Corddry , Dennis Boutsikaris , James Cromwell , Anna Gunn , Alex Hernandez , Eric Lange , Sydney Chandler , Jason Butler Harner


Apple Studios, Genre Films

Mark Protosevich

Apple TV+

Sugar follows the titular suited P.I. as he takes on a case from a rich old man (played by James Cromwell), a legend in the film industry whose work Sugar loves. The elderly man’s granddaughter has been missing for two weeks, though everyone (even her father) believes that she’s fallen off the wagon and is on a bender. Sugar is a quiet and compassionate detective, a sweet twist on the Bogarts and Mitchums of classic film noir. We asked Farrell why Sugar romanticizes and glorifies those detectives of old, and if he does the same:

I think just at a really pure, really simple level, it’s just the presence and the saturation of tone and the presentation of longing. [It’s] that most human experience of loneliness and aloneness, and also the belief in being a swell tide of good in a world filled with dark tsunamis that are just constantly coming, one after the other.

“He loves the genre himself,” continued Farrell, “and he just loves old-fashioned films, just the beauty of them, the music of them, and again, just that feeling that he gets. And I think he leans into film as well, whether he knows it or not, because it kind of assuages his aloneness. It makes him feel less outside of the human experience and more a part of it, because he doesn’t have any interpersonal relationships.” Farrell went on:

“The thing that I loved was — you said a mix of kindness and a death wish —
it was that kind of contrast that attracted me to the piece initially
. Because, loving film noir, whether it’s
The Big Sleep
The Maltese Falcon
Farewell, My Lovely
or whatever it may be, the characters are always pretty hard-boiled. And they’re jaded, they’ve seen enough of the ugliness of humanity that they’re tired by it, even though they’re still working in it, and their moral compass has shifted through the years.”


Film Noir: The Quintessential Movies to Get into the Genre

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And this guy felt very clearly like a decent, kind man who had a belief, still after all that he’s seen, in the fundamental worth of human decency, and the possibilities of human decency,” concluded Farrell, comparing his detective with many in the past. “It is shaken a certain amount through the show, but it still exists there at the end, surprisingly enough, and that was the thing that really had me kind of passionate about being part of it. “

Understanding Violence in the World of Sugar

On that note, how much are Sugar and his beliefs “shaken” throughout the show? From the opening scene, we’re informed that Sugar abhors violence, not that it seems like he’d lose many fights. A private detective (and film noir itself) exists in a realm of violence, or at least the threat of it. Why does Sugar do the job, then, or why does he hate violence? Is that part of the “contrast that attracted” Farrell?

“I think that there are a couple of scenes in the piece where the power that I believe certain people can feel when they exert violence on another human being, where he actually accesses that. And I think that, more than anything else in his own personal experience, it really troubles him and gives him a perspective on himself and on his fellow man that he never really had before,” explained Farrell, adding:

“But at the beginning, I
think he just understands that violence at times is a necessary evil, because violence has already been unleashed in the human condition
. And so it exists, it obviously exists all around us. But he also sees it as the ugliest expression that instantly deviates us from our true potential. And that was kind of a lovely philosophy or feeling to have as that character, you know, considering what he was aware of and how violent he was aware of, that human beings can be.”

Related: Sugar Review: Colin Farrell Sizzles in Inventive Neo-Noir Drama

Colin Farrell Has a ‘Soft Spot for Michael Keaton’

While discussing Sugar, Farrell generously took the time to muse over which actor, character, or movie is his favorite in the whole Batman pantheon. “My favorite Batman actors or movie. I mean, Heath. Heath takes it, you know,” Farrell shrugged with a smile, then elaborated:

“I mean, I don’t want to sit on the fence, but I’ve enjoyed so many of them.
I love Jack [Nicholson] as well as the Joker
. And these characters of lore are so well-designed initially that they just withstand. It was like, Christian Bale was asked a question, I saw once, about the new Batman that was coming and about Robert [Pattinson] playing Batman, and Christian said something along the lines of, and I paraphrase, that these characters, they survive and they invite multiple interpretations.”

“And I love Danny [DeVito] of course, as the Penguin. I grew up watching Tim Burton’s films,” continued Farrell. “But I go back with the show as well, to Adam West and Burgess Meredith, the first Penguin I ever saw. You know, there are so many of them, who my favorite is, I don’t know. I have a soft spot for Michael Keaton because I was like, maybe 10 or 11 or 12 when I saw that, and I was just obsessed with it, you know?”

While you wait for The Penguin, be sure to check out one of the most original and gripping new series in a while, Sugar, when it comes to Apple TV+ on April 5. You can watch it through the link below:

Watch Sugar

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