Colin Farrell is no stranger to playing the “bad boy.” Throughout his extensive acting career, he’s played a multitude of seemingly heartless, villainous characters, but, in reality, those characteristics couldn’t be farther from Farrell’s true self.

Yes, he’s handsome and charming, but he’s also philanthropic and compassionate. In 2005, he was named a United Nations spokesman for the war on hunger, and he’s even been an official games spokesman for the Special Olympics.

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But none of his exemplary work around the globe can hold a candle to his involvement with some very special charities: Those benefitting Angelman Syndrome.

Why the impassioned support?

His son.

After years of protecting his son from the press and keeping his condition a secret, Farrell decided it was time to detail his son James’s rare neuro-genetic condition. He opened up about his son’s Angelman Syndrome while serving as a games spokesperson for the Shanghai Special Olympics, and he never looked back.

In 2011, he told the Irish Independent:

“I just thought, ‘Well, maybe it’s time. I just have to speak about him. And once I’m not protecting him, what’s going to happen if I speak publicly about his condition? Nothing really.'”

Angelman Syndrome symptoms are sometimes similar to those of cerebral palsy. They can include: developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, no speech or minimal speech, difficulty walking, moving or balancing, frequently smiling or laughing, and a happy demeanor, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Farrell said his son was diagnosed when he was around 2 and a half years old.

Since he first spoke about James’s Angelman Syndrome, Farrell has become somewhat of a spokesperson for the condition, raising awareness during whatever promotional tour or interview he does. And after just a few lines, his love for his son is almost tangible.

While speaking as the guest of honor at the 2011 Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics gala, he gave audience members a tiny glimpse of that love:

“He’s kind of lifted me in that sometimes tremulous hand of his. I ain’t saying I’m a great man or nothing, but I’m getting to be about as good a fellow as I’m going to be. A lot of the reason is James has come into my life and gifted me the opportunity to look outside myself and to watch his every difficulty and to watch his insurmountable spirit just forge ahead in life.”

Through the most difficult obstacles, he saw his son charge on with courage into anything life threw his way. While recently promoting his upcoming film, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” Farrell recalled one of his most moving memories of his son, who turns 14 years old next week.

He told People magazine that because of his Angelman Syndrome, many health professionals told him that James would never be able to walk. But just before his fourth birthday, he did just that:

“People talk about the children taking the first step, it’s obviously a monumental moment and it’s been represented in film. But to be told your child may never take the first step and then see those first steps is just kind of a different sport all together.”

Although his son still deals with the condition every single day, his perseverance hAll Postsasn’t just impacted his own physical abilities, it’s also impacted everyone around him. And judging by his father’s beaming pride, he does more than impact — he inspires.

To watch his chat more on his son’s Angelman Syndrome, check out the video below:

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