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Cillian Murphy: I would be an eejit not to enjoy Oscar moment

Oscar-nominated actor Cillian Murphy has admitted that he has struggled with being in the spotlight, but will be trying to enjoy the Academy Awards ceremony next month.

The Irish star has been nominated for his first Oscar for Christopher Nolan’s epic historical film Oppenheimer, and will face competition for the best actor prize when he goes head-to-head with US leading men including Maestro’s Bradley Cooper.

He has also been nominated for a Bafta for his work as the father of the Atomic bomb, J Robert Oppenheimer, in the movie – which has received 13 Oscars nods – and has already won a Golden Globe Award for the role.

Murphy – also known for horror film 28 Days Later, thriller Red Eye and playing Tommy Shelby in hit BBC crime series Peaky Blinders – is often not forthcoming about his private life and has spoken about finding red carpets “challenging”.

Oppenheimer photocall- London
Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy (Ian West/PA)

He was asked by Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs about how he will deal with being out of his comfort zone at the Oscars.

The Cork-born actor, 47, said: “I have struggled with it in the past and you know, it’s not something I’m ever totally at ease with – but I think you have to, like, choose to enjoy it and I think you can do that in your brain, just make that alteration and it’s easier then.

“I’ll have my wife and my kids with me, and that’s been lovely… and you’d be an eejit not to enjoy it, just go with it, that’s my attitude.”

He also said that having his wife, the visual artist Yvonne McGuinness, by his side has been “crucial” to feeling grounded as the “sort of ancillary aspect of being an actor is quite challenging”.

Murphy also said: “To have a really secure solid base (with fame) is important. It’s been really important for me, you have to have that safe place.

“I think I certainly do, where it’s just like an island of comfort and ease.”

He also admitted that he gets “nervous” doing films more than stage work as there is a record “forever”, and you cannot improve on the performance during another night.

Murphy, whose earliest role was in Enda Walsh’s play Disco Pigs which he then returned to in a film adaption, said: “I found the whole sort of apparatus of filmmaking, the huge lights and the vans and the trucks and electricians and all the crew and everything, (that) would come to a complete stop and complete silence and then you’re supposed to perform.

“I found that very, very intimidating when I was younger actor. I think I’ve made my peace with it now, but it was a lot to take on.”

He was also in director Nolan’s superhero movie Batman Begins, science fiction film Inception and war epic Dunkirk.

Peaky Blinders: Series 2 Premiere – Birmingham
Charlotte Riley, writer Steven Knight, Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory and Joe Cole from the series Peaky Blinders (Joe Giddens/PA)

Murphy said that he has a “very close” colleague-style relationship with Nolan, but they do not “hang out and go bowling”.

He added: “It’s a lovely feeling to walk onto a set and to feel safe, and to also, most importantly, to be able to make an eejit of yourself to be able to fail, to be able to get it wrong… and I’ve always had that with him. I’ve always felt that with him and it’s just a gift.”

Murphy also said it is “a little bit of a relief” that Peaky Blinders ended with its sixth season last year, but if “phenomenal writer” Steven Knight makes a good script, he will play crime boss Tommy in his 50s.

He also said. “It was good time to have a little respite from (the show). I think we all needed a break from each other.”