March 3, 2024

Cillian Murphy may be the hot favourite to win Best Actor at next month’s Oscars, but he has revealed he wasn’t the first choice for his breakthrough TV role.

Murphy played family patriarch Tommy Shelby in global hit period drama Peaky Blinders, but he revealed this week he wasn’t writer Stephen Knight’s first choice for the lead role.

He told the BBC’s Desert Island Discs radio interview show: “I wasn’t the obvious choice physically. I don’t know if I convinced Stephen in the meeting, but apparently afterwards I sent him a text that said: ‘Remember, I am an actor.’ And I do believe that. I do think it is our duty as actors to transform to whatever the part demands.”

Shelby and his Birmingham gangster family bowed out after six seasons in 2022, but Murphy revealed that he remains open to playing the role again: “If there is more story to tell, and if Stephen Knight delivers a script like I know he can, then I will be there,” Murphy said.

“I mean, if we want to watch 50-year-old Tommy Shelby, I will be there. Let’s do it.”

On his much-heralded depiction of Oppenheimer in Christopher Nolan’s epic movie, Murphy said he realised the portrayal “would be ultimately a synthesis of the script, all the stuff that I was absorbing of him, and then an element of yourself in it. And then you put it all in the mix and that becomes Chris’s version and my version of Oppenheimer.”

The Irish actor said he said he had learned to enjoy awards season, something he hadn’t always felt in the past.

He reflected: “But you can choose to enjoy it. You can make that alteration in your brain. Really, you would be an eejit not to enjoy it. Just go with it.”

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