Cillian Murphy strikes me as being a very interesting performer; I have seen quite a few of his films and always find his performances enthralling and I consider him to be a fantastic actor. For a time, though, it seemed as though acting would not be Murphy’s destination in life as his first real passion for entertaining was music. When in his teens and early twenties he formed a band with his brother, most of their (small scale) successes came while they performed under the name of The Sons of Mr. Greengenes. In 1996 the band were offered a five album record deal by Acid Jazz Records which the Murphy brothers had to turn down because Cillian’s brother Paidi was still in school. Murphy went on to attend University College Cork where he studied law and failed his first year exams; the reason being he had ‘no ambition to do it’ and later admitted that within days of starting the course he knew law wasn’t going to be it for him. So he came to be an actor.

Murphy started off his acting career on the stage where he quickly got noticed and then started making several short films and independent films in his home land of Ireland, including On the Edge and How Harry Became a Tree. It was a role in the film version of Disco Pigs (a role that was Murphy’s debut on the stage too) that he has to thank for the way his career has panned out afterwards as it was his performance here that brought him to the attention of Danny Boyle. Boyle was looking for someone to cast in the lead role of his film 28 Days Later and Murphy seemed to fit the bill. 28 Days Later subsequently became a hit all over the world and put Murphy in front of the huge crowds he could only ever have imagined. His performance earned rave reviews and Boyle was hailed for finding such a talented unknown actor.

Murphy starred alongside Colin Farrell in Intermission which became the highest grossing Irish film at the Irish box office ever (the record was broken in 2006 but Intermission held it for a while nonetheless) and Murphy also bagged himself supporting roles in his first Hollywood features: Cold Mountain and The Girl With the Pearl Earring. Even with his new found fame and success Murphy still returned to the stage and toured Ireland in theatre roles proving that he still had great affection for his beginnings. Then he got a call that would change anyone’s career…

Cillian Murphy was asked to come and audition for the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in 2005’s Batman Begins. Murphy himself suggested that he knew he wouldn’t get the part because he didn’t have the physique to play a superhero yet he went and auditioned anyway. Director Christopher Nolan was so impressed with his performance that he cast Cillian Murphy in the role of Dr. Jonathan Crane, Scarecrow, the villain. He also appeared as the villain in Red Eye, a thriller in which he was the antagonist to Rachel McAdams’ protagonist. Murphy received huge acclaim for his villainous roles and got himself a handful of nominations at several awards shows.

Making it big in Hollywood didn’t change Murphy though and he once again returned to his roots to make Irish film Breakfast on Pluto, in which he played a transgender Irish foundling in search of her mother. Murphy had actually auditioned for the role back in 2001 but director Neil Jordan was hesitant to make the film so soon after his earlier works; Murphy continually tried to get Jordan to make the film before Murphy was too old to play the part and Breakfast on Pluto was eventually made. I think that this shows Murphy has a serious passion for his career and is desperate to take on roles that will not only challenge him as an actor but also challenge that audience’s perception of Murphy.

In 2007 Cillian Murphy reteamed with Danny Boyle to make science fiction film Sunshine, in which Murphy had the lead role. This is the first film that I remember seeing Murphy in and actually knowing who he was and it was this performance that led me to search for some of his earlier works because I thought the film was fantastic and Murphy himself was brilliant to watch. Another director who clearly found Murphy a great actor to work with is Christopher Nolan as he not only cast him in his masterpiece Inception but also allowed Murphy to reprise his roles in his Batman sequels: The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.

And even appearing in one of the biggest, most loved and most successful trilogies of all time still can’t keep Cillian Murphy away from Ireland as he continues to ply his trade in independent cinema with turns in Perrier’s Bounty and Broken. Cillian Murphy is an actor who clearly loves his work and he has a very clear idea of how he wants his career to go as he aims to work with Michel Gondry, Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep. Yet it is amazing that he still remains down to earth, very genuine, humble and homely; despite being friends with fellow Irish actors Colin Farrell and Liam Neeson Murphy’s closest friends remain those he had before he became successful, he keeps his private life just that which is why not many people may know him as they should. Best of all, I think, Murphy could have his pick of Hollywood films if he wanted but he won’t have because he refuses to move to Los Angeles full time because he doesn’t wish to distance himself from his family. What a nice guy!

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