Better Late Than Never: Vin Diesel, Colin Farrell Talk Delayed Flicks

'A Man Apart,' 'Phone Booth,' 'What a Girl Wants' open in theaters Friday.

Two delayed flicks with charismatic stars will face off this weekend — with a teenage girl caught in the middle — as Colin Farrell’s “Phone Booth,” Vin Diesel’s “A Man Apart” and Amanda Bynes’ “What a Girl Wants” arrive in theaters.

For “Phone Booth,” Farrell reunited with director Joel Schumacher, whose casting of the Irish actor in “Tigerland” opened the door for scene-stealing parts in “Hart’s War,” “Minority Report” and “Daredevil.” Telling the story of a high-rolling publicist trapped at a New York City pay phone by an unseen gun-wielding madman, “Phone Booth” was originally scheduled for release in November. But because of a headline-grabbing real-life sniper, Fox studio executives pushed back the film’s release. (Click to see “Phone Booth” photos. )

Sitting in a Los Angeles hotel room recently, Farrell said he wasn’t bothered by the delay, though he personally didn’t see any reason to hold the film back. “I never saw any correlation between what was happening on the East Coast and the film. The film was a piece of fiction that was written 10 years ago. But I do not have a problem with them pulling the film at all.”

“The fun was in the experience of doing it,” he added, “not in the watching of it afterwards, not in the release of it or the checking of how it’s doing at the box office. The actual fun is in doing the gig on the set, on the day [and] thinking about it at night.”

Vin Diesel didn’t necessarily have “fun” when he made “A Man Apart” more than two years ago. He plays Sean Vetter, a cop who loses his wife to a drug cartel and goes on a dark mission of revenge. (Click to see “A Man Apart” photos. )

“I’m glad that the emotional journey of filming this is in the past,” Diesel said recently. “It was definitely taxing. We all have this vault of anger that we store all our anger and frustration [inside]. If our boss pisses us off, or if we get into an argument with our loved ones, we store all this sh– in this vault. And for this movie, I kept that vault door wide open the whole time. It was nice to be able to close it and then go into a more kind of heroic film like ‘XXX.’ ”

Diesel shot “A Man Apart” (originally titled “Diablo”) before even “The Fast and the Furious” had come out, let alone “XXX,” but like his “Knockaround Guys” project, it wasn’t released until years later.

“I think what happened was,” Diesel explained, “someone was overly anxious to get this film and they downloaded a rough assembly from the [computer] that wasn’t even edited yet, and they started bootlegging it. So I think we had to go through the whole process of trying to rectify that and at the same time go through the edit and shoot additional footage to incorporate in the film so there’d be like 20 more minutes than the bootleg copy. They had something to prove once the bootleg copy leaked out.

“What’s wild is that I’ve done publicity for a few pictures since then,” he added. “[But], you know, if you feel good about a film, I guess it doesn’t really matter when it comes out.”

Though the teen flick “What a Girl Wants” hasn’t experienced any kind of a delay, like “Phone Booth” it has been affected by current events. (Click to see “What a Girl Wants” photos. )

Early advertisements depicted Bynes standing in front of two traditional English soldiers and flashing a peace sign with her fingers. The filmmakers were nervous that in light of the conflict in Iraq it would be misconstrued as some sort of political statement, so subsequent ads were changed to show her with her arm at her side.

All three films will compete with the box-office might of Chris Rock’s presidential comedy “Head of State,” which ended Queen Latifah’s three-week reign when it ousted “Bringing Down the House” from the #1 spot last weekend.