Who is James Farrell? Colin Farrell gave up drugs and alcohol after his son's Angelman Syndrome diagnosis

The neuro-genetic disorder leads Farrell and ex-girlfriend Kim Bordenave to file a conservatorship, as the actor continues to be a responsible father years after giving up booze

                            Who is James Farrell? Colin Farrell gave up drugs and alcohol after his son's Angelman Syndrome diagnosis
Colin Farrell speaks during the 4th Annual City Summit and Gala held at The Marriott Burbank Convention Center on February 23, 2019 in Burbank, California (Getty Images)

Addiction isn't new in Hollywood and there are countless tales of celebrities overcoming their addiction to drugs and alcohol. From Robert Downey Jr to Bradley Cooper, and Demi Lovato to Carrie Fisher, there are countless tales of recovery to inspire us. A perhaps less-known story is that of Collin Farrell, the Irish actor who was inspired to go clean thanks to his son, James. 

Colin is back in the news after it was reported he and his ex-girlfriend Kim Bordenave have filed a conservatorship for James, who will turn 18 in September. If granted, the conservatorship will allow Colin and Bordenave to retain legal control over all of James' decisions, such as "power to access confidential records, withhold consent of marriage, enter into contracts, give medical consent, and the power to make educational decisions." 


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The news is the latest in the tale of James, whose Angelman Syndrome diagnosis was largely hidden from the world until Colin opened up about him in 2007. He credits James for a lot of change in his life, including his decision shed his image as a "drug-addicted drunk". Here's everything we know about James, and how he helped transform Colin's life.

Actor Colin Farrell, sister Claudine (R) and model Kim Bordenave attend the 75th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater on March 23, 2003 in Hollywood, California. (Getty Images)

Who is James Farrell?

Born in 2003, James Pádraig Farrell is Colin and Bordenave's oldest child. While they are no longer together, they share joint custody of James. Reportedly, James was born with a rare form of cerebral palsy called Angelman Syndrome, a disorder that causes developmental delays. Not much is known about James, beyond his condition, and the few bits of information Farrell has provided in interviews.

In 2007, he revealed to the Independent the ways he thought about disability after James. "With my son the only time I'm reminded that there is something different about him – that he has some deviation of what is perceived to be normal – is when I see him with other four-year-olds," he said. According to Farrell, James took his first steps as a four-year-old. "When he took the first steps it was incredibly emotional, there wasn't a dry eye in the house". 

Colin Farrell speaks at Adobe EMEA Summit at ExCel on May 12, 2016, in London, England. (Getty Images)

One thing we do know is that James caused Farrell to drastically change. Prior to his birth, Farrell was a well-known drug and alcohol addict. But all that changed, when the actor became a father for the first time at 28. "I made a decision not to change," he told Details Magazine. "I literally said, 'I'm not changing! I'm gonna be his friend!' Like a f----- 28-year-old drug-addicted drunk friend is exactly what my six-week-old son needs." He eventually changed course though, telling The Guardian, "my first-born was three years of age before I made anything that I would even pretend was a mature decision." That decision was to check into rehab, which he did in December 2005 following the production of 'Miami Vice'. 

Since being released in 2006, Farrell has been sober and now spends more time with his son. In 2013, he told The Mirror, "Being a dad is a very big part of my life but it’s not like it’s easy. As a parent you kind of want to make everything fun and give them all that they want. But you just can’t do that. The word discipline kind of gives me the willies so I just try to be there for them." 

The actor now lives a quiet life, and the court filing is the first time we have heard of James in a few years. Reportedly, the petition was filed on May 10, and a court hearing is scheduled for September 27. He has also been involved in the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (FAST), making a speech at their 2020 Global Summit, after appearing in a video for the group in 2016. We may not know much about James, but there is no doubt he's played a pivotal role in the Irish actor's life.

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