Cillian Murphy: ‘I thought I was set up with the bad guy tag’
Irish Hollywood star has spoken about his fear that he would be typecast as the ‘bad guy’ earlier in his career after performing the role so well in a successive hit films.
The Cork-born star has now established himself as a versatile and talented actor, but he explains that wasn’t always the case.
Murphy said: “I did Batman and then I went off and did Breakfast On Pluto, then I went to do Red Eye, but Batman and Red Eye ended up coming out in the same year, so I was the go-to bad guy.
In both Batman and Red Eye Murphy played the key bad guy of the movie.
“I was p****d off about that, to be honest, because your whole career is based on variety in playing a bunch of different characters, which I think I’d demonstrated up to that point. It just happened that they came out one after the other.
“For a year I thought I was setup with the bad guy tag, but thankfully I’ve shut that off.”
After making his mark on the big screen, the Irish actor is currently starring in BBC drama Peaky Blinders, in which he plays intimidating gangster boss Tommy Shelby.
He talked about the approach needed when working on long-running television series compared to movies.
“It poses a challenge, but it’s a really positive one.
“Unless you’re the main character in a feature film, everyone else’s story is kind of compressed, and even as the lead character you’re still trying to compress everything into two-and-a-half hours.
“Whereas in long-form television, you get to really investigate this sort of most unlikely part of the character’s psyche. You get to really go into great detail, and that’s a gift for an actor.
“You feel like you get to explore parts of a character that you never really get to do in any other medium. Certainly not in film or theatre. I think that’s what’s attracting a lot of actors to television these days.”
Murphy’s career actually began as a stage actor, and he revealed he never intended to make the move into films. Murphy played the role of Pig in the Enda Walsh play Disco Pigs for two years before it was made into a film, in which he also played the lead role.
He said: “For me, when I started acting, I was only interested in theatre. The film thing came later, and I was open to it to get Disco Pigs as my first sort of barbecue.
“Then I worked exclusively on stage in Ireland and the UK for about four years. I worked with great directors and great writers, and I was very lucky to kind of learn my craft onstage.
“The films happened very slowly and incrementally where I got a smaller part and then a slightly bigger part, so there was none of that catapult syndrome, which I think can be a little scary for young actors.
“I still love theatre, and the thing I most enjoy about doing both is that with theatre you have to act with your whole body and theatre is always the wide shot.
“You’re always acting within that wide shot. It can be an interesting wide shot, too, if people are in the gods watching you.
“With film it’s all about thinking and the close up, so it’s great to be able to exercise both of those muscles, so I try to go back to theatre as often as I can and as much as possible.”