Scent of a Man

In our sensory-overload present, there are few things that still hold the cavemen potency of scent to trigger deep, primal memories. Speaking to Colin Farrell, the new face of Intenso by Dolce & Gabbana, is a bit of a sensual overload of another variety—which makes him the perfect frontman for the alluring new fragrance.

MIGUEL ENAMORADO: Do you think of scent as being part of character?

COLIN FARRELL: No. I’m somebody who hasn’t worn fragrance in 20 years, and I’m not contractually obliged to wear this. I actually do like it. It smells good. The five senses—we’re so fucking ruled by them. Sometimes they are kind enough to allow moments of nostalgia. The campaign for this is doing the same thing. As in film, your intention is to evoke an emotion, to reach into somebody and have them reflect back on a moment in their life.

ENAMORADO: Is there a scent that brings back a strong memory for you?

FARRELL: I can’t smell steak being cooked without thinking of the restaurant my father used to own in Ireland. Two nights of the week he’d bring home some meat and cook it for my mother. I would smell it from upstairs and come down, and he would cut me off a corner. It’s amazing how memories get locked in, stored within us—maybe to give us perspective on how far we’ve traveled. Senses can evoke an understanding of time and place better than anything. I was fortunate enough to get to know Elizabeth Taylor in the last couple years of her life, and she wore Violet Eyes all the time. If I smell that now, it brings me straight back. She may as well be in the room.

ENAMORADO: Was there something that you tapped into when you were playing this character, this scent?

FARRELL: In film, you have the benefit of being somebody else. I know actors who can get up on stage or in front of a camera and do extraordinary things, but they can’t stand in a room and talk to five people. There’s comfort in that distance, between yourself and the life of another, which I didn’t have in the campaign. But it’s a blurred line, because it’s not exactly me—I don’t find myself on a boat in the Mediterranean with a bevy of models very often.

ENAMORADO: How did working with Dolce & Gabbana come about? 

FARRELL: I’ve actually worn their clothes for 14 years. I’ve met [Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana], and we’ve had nights together. So when they called, it was cool. And when I smelled Intenso, I liked it—I remember stuff years ago being very thick, very musky. This isn’t attempting to be masculine. I think the lavender is what I like.

ENAMORADO: What kind of scent would your character Ray Velcoro [on True Detective, Season 2] wear? 

FARRELL: I fancy he may be a little bit muskier than this. He’s an animal. [laughs]