Colin Farrell thinks that there’s something to be said for the ways of men around 330 b.c. As he studied for his role as Alexander the Great for the upcoming Oliver Stone film Alexander, slated for November, he discovered that male bonding went much further than it does today. “It was a time when men and men lay together and shared knowledge,” he says like an enthusiastic historian. Then he winks and adds, “And they lay together.” In the world of Alexander women were for procreation and men were for companionship—and a bit of fooling around, Farrell notes. The movie concentrates on youthful Alexander’s years at war conquering most of southern Europe and much of the Middle East, a quest he shared with his boyhood buddy and battle mate Hephaestion, played by Jared Leto (Requiem for a Dream). More than one historian has postulated that Hephaestion had a physical relationship with his emperor. Don’t count on any steamy warrior-on-warrior sex in Alexander, but “Oliver [Stone] isn’t shying away from anything just because it may be shocking to the masses,” Farrell says. That includes making Alexander someone who swings both ways. “You know he’s bisexual [by the way he’s portrayed in the film],” Farrell says. “That’s all you really need to know, and you don’t even need to know that, because there was no term for sexuality back then in respect to categorizing it as homosexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality.” Sexual identity aside, Alexander was the toughest role that the Tigerland, Phone Booth, and S.W.A.T. star ever attempted, he says, because it was both psychologically and physically draining. “It’s the motherfucker of all motherfuckers,” the Irishman says with characteristically colorful language. “These were fucking animals, even the king. He was on the battlefield with blood, sweat, and tears. Society was rough. It was honest, but it was rough. They drank a lot; they cussed a lot.” Known for doing plenty of drinking and cussing himself, the handsome Farrell looks sexily scruffy at this intimate Beverly Hills press conference, with a Guinness in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other, defying the rules at the Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel. With his oft-reported nightlife escapades, salty interviews, and year-old son by model Kim Bordenave, the currently single actor knows his life is swirling with tabloid fodder, and he relies on his publicists to tell him whom it’s safe to talk to. That likely explains how he managed to star in a gay-themed film this summer—A Home at the End of the World, based on Michael Cunningham’s novel about a gay man, a straight woman, and the free-spirited hunk they both love—without actually talking about it to anyone in the gay media, despite repeated requests by The Advocate and other publications. He also missed the film’s gala Los Angeles opening as part of Outfest, the city’s respected gay and lesbian film festival, with scheduling difficulties said to be the culprit. Farrell says he’s unaware of any intentional snub to the gay press as part of promoting Home, but it’s clear from his comments that his inaccessibility is probably related to the months-long flap over whether a couple of seconds of nudity would make it into the final cut. (It didn’t.) After early press screenings included the flash of flesh, outlets such as the supermarket tabloids and Entertainment Weekly (with its “Full-Frontal Farrell” cover line) helped make a public tussle out of Farrell’s privates. But in his EW interview Farrell seemed to lay the blame on the gay press: “Apart from readers of The Advocate, maybe, who wants to see Colin Farrell’s cock that much?” he asked, evidently not having been in a supermarket checkout line in the previous few months. At the Beverly Wilshire, Farrell just laughs about the hoopla. “‘Oh, my God, Colin Farrell’s cock!’ ” he says, imitating the hysteria of a few unnamed magazine editors. “ ‘Let’s write about that. Was it too big? Was it too small? Was it too wide? Was it too skinny? Was it an innie or an outie?’ Do you know what I mean? I know the reason that it was cut out was that it just wasn’t right [for that] beautiful, gentle moment [in the movie].” The film’s openly gay director, Michael Mayer, confirms that interpretation: “If people are not experiencing the feeling of the moment and instead [are] thinking, Is he big or not big? Is he cut or uncut? [then] it’s wrong and should be cut.” Adds novelist and screenwriter Cunningham: “Colin finally came to us and said he couldn’t talk about his dick anymore.” For gay and lesbian viewers, more remarkable than Farrell’s willingness to drop trou may be his willingness to play two bi guys in a row: Bobby in A Home at the End of the World and then Alexander—although neither character would claim the “bisexual” label. “Bobby could move back to New York, and if he met a girl who rocked his world, he’d be with her, and if he met a boy who rocked his world, he’d be with him,” Farrell says. “You can call that bisexual, of course, but Bobby wouldn’t even know that. If you said to him, ‘You’re bisexual,’ he’d think you were talking about purchasing sex. It’s so not in the realms of thinking at the forefront of your head. He just exists.” Ditto Alexander, who lived at a time when sexual expression wasn’t pigeonholed. It was only centuries later, Farrell says, “as we got more technologically and sociologically adept, we started to put titles on everything. The few decided for the multitude what was right or wrong.” And in 2004 it will be the multitude that decides whether Alexander gets it right or wrong.