Colin Farrell’s Son: Water Obsession Was Key To His Diagnosis

Colin Farrell says his 7-year-old son James is fascinated with water – and it helped doctors correctly diagnose the youngster with a neuro-genetic condition called Angelman syndrome. “James is kind of obsessed with water,” Colin said in an interview on the Ellen De Generes Show that aired Friday. “He’s not a great swimmer but he just loves being close to it and in and around it. It’s one of the characteristics of the condition that he has.”

The Crazy Heart actor revealed that doctors initially misdiagnosed James with cerebral palsy, but his love for water made one medical expert take a closer look.

“The doctor saw him one day and said, ‘Is he always this happy…and does he always kind of flap his arms like that?'” Colin recalled. “And we said, ‘Yes’. And he said, ‘And how does he feel about water?’ and we said, ‘Oh, water’s fascinating (to him)’.

“He went, ‘Has he been tested for Angelman Syndrome?’ We didn’t know what that was.”

Colin said that while a fascination with water is one of the symptoms of AS, it also has a calming effect on his son. “If James gets upset at home I can get a pot and put some water in it. It’s really beautiful because water is such a pure element… there’s something really profound about it,” he explained.

By speaking about his son’s rare condition, Colin feels he has helped the parents of other children with the syndrome. “When I first spoke about it, which was about five years ago, a lot of people got their children correctly diagnosed as a result of just this little interview I did with an Irish newspaper.”

Filed under: Colin Farrell

Photo credit: Fame


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  1. Megan

    It’s amazing that he’s speaking out about Angelman Syndrome. I grew up with a girl with it and she was always the happiest kid I knew. The best moments were always pools in the summer. I never understood at the time why she loved water so much. All that mattered is that she was happy and carefree. Kudos to Colin. Keep up the good work!

  2. Jenn

    My thoughts & prayers go out to this family.People who have healthy children should feel thankful.My father spent the last 25 years of his life sick so I learned to appreciate being healthy.

  3. Anonymous

    This article is beautiful. I love when parents are allowed to just be parents and humans instead of being forced into the celebrity box all the time.

    Also, the word “obsession” is misspelled in the header on this article.

  4. carolyn Robertson

    Thanks Anonymous 🙂

  5. Stephanie Moyer

    Thanks so much for writing about AS and Farrell’s recent interview on Ellen. My son is the same age as James, and he has Angelman Syndrome as well. Not many people know about it (including a great deal of pediatricians), and I’m so glad that Farrell has decided to speak about it. If you would like to learn more, please visit

  6. hailei_2007

    Oh, I had no idea his son was sick… It’s mind blowing when you hear about something like that happening to celebrities, because they seem so untouchable… Good for him for speaking, I’m sure this is going to help some parents understand what’s happening to their children,,,

  7. Anonymous

    Parents of kids with special needs (of which I am one) allow their children to enrich their lives in a way that a ‘typical’ kid can’t.
    As Mr. Farrell has said, it’s not “sad” to have a kid with special needs. In fact, the smallest things you take for granted can bring much more joy.
    Next time you see a kid that may have some issue that you are unfamiliar with… All you need to do is be inclusive. Just saying hello to a kid can make their (or their parent’s day. Break the boundries – just be nice.

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