When it was announced that Christopher Nolan is making yet another masterwork focused on the Manhattan Project- and that it features Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer- fans could hardly hold back their excitement. The trailer gave goosebumps to the viewers as it showed a wide-eyed Cillian Murphy almost ageing twice as fast because of the sheer pressure amidst the second world war. Here are 8 best performances of Cillian Murphy you should watch.
Nolan and Murphy had worked together in films like Inception, Dunkirk, and the Dark Knight Trilogy. However, this will be the first time he will be playing the main role. Undoubtedly, Oppenheimer is a big opportunity for the actor to show his potential to a wider audience- but his previous works are a testament of his skills.
Here are some of the best performances of Cillian Murphy-
1. The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Directed by Ken Loach, The Wind that Shakes the Barley is an Irish war drama that revolves around the Irish War of Independence. It follows the journey of two brothers amidst the chaos of the Irish struggle, who join the Irish Republican Army to combat for Ireland’s freedom from the United Kingdom. Cillian Murphy wonderfully plays the role of Damien O’Donovan, adding emotional profundity by demonstrating the side of a man conflicting to enter the IRA but ends up joining after seeing the behaviour of the British Army.
Another collaboration of Cillian Murphy and Alex Garland after 28 Days Later, Sunshine is a sci-fi psychological thriller that follows astronauts on a quest to reignite the dying sun and restore life for humankind. Cillian Murphy takes on the character of Robert Capa, the leader of the mission, and gives a phenomenal performance as he detaches from all emotional threads to ensure that the gigantic task is successful.
3. A Quiet Place Part II
A Quiet Place Part II is one of those legendary performances of Cillian Murphy where audiences are not able to recognize the actors taking the role. Being the sequel to the 2018 movie A Quiet Place, the second part follows right where the preceding one ended. It stars Murphy as Emmet, a friend of the surviving family. Murphy takes the role of a haggard, rough-looking bearded recluse making it one of his best portrayals, showing his potential as an actor when compared to his other roles that are strikingly different.
Any list mentioning Cillian Murphy’s best performances will be incomplete without mentioning the BBC crime drama featuring Murphy as Thomas Shelby. Probably his most famous and acclaimed role to date, the international following that this British show has gathered counts Murphy as one of the major factors. Murphy dons the classic English coats and presents a witty, smart, and strategic gangster who is always a step ahead of his enemies. Moreover, apart from his strong side, Peaky Blinders also showed the spectrum of emotions he could portray, as he seamlessly moved from a heartless gangster to a hopeless romantic.
5. 28 Days Later
Directed by Danny Boyle and written by Alex Garland, the movie stars Cillian Murphy as Jim, who wakes up from a coma only to find that the world he left behind is changed forever as a contagious man-made “rage virus” has proliferated in Britain where people getting infected are going in a bloodthirsty frenzy. At that time, 28 Days Later revived the zombie genre, Murphy delivered a phenomenal performance as a man lost in the world of paranoia and uncertainty.
While Cillian Murphy’s character did not even get a name in the World War II epic, and was titled the “Shivering Soldier”, getting the screen time of less than five minutes- Cillian Murphy encapsulates the mental and physical state of a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder in that short period. His role is fleeting but harrowing as his shivering self is saved by the British civilians.
7. Batman Begins/ The Dark Knight Trilogy
Cillian Murphy initially auditioned for the role of Batman in The Dark Knight Trilogy, however, that went to Christian Bale, and he ended up with the dual role of Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow an arcane and enigmatic psychopharmacologist working at Arkham Asylum.
Murphy’s character is the only villain to appear in all three parts- and even though his screen time is less- he leaves an impact. His blank stare and “Would you like to see my mask?” has to be one of the most harrowing scenes of the trilogy.
8. In the Heart of the Sea
Loosely based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s book, the movie follows an American Ship Essex that drowned due to the attack of a sperm whale. Cillian Murphy takes the role of Matthew Joy, one of the crew members on the ship. The actor’s commitment to his work is demonstrated by the fact that he had to literally starve himself to lose 20 pounds in six weeks as he had to show the character of a starving person.
Cillian Murphy has played praiseworthy roles over the years. However, it is without a doubt that Peaky Blinders supported the actor to achieve new heights. He received his first BAFTA nomination because of this role. Along with it, he also won the National Television Award and Irish Film & Television Award. As Christopher Nolan casts him in the titular role in Oppenheimer, we will get to see more of this talented actor. Cillian Murphy has taken some similar roles in the past as well, and we are hoping that this time we will see a more refined performance. Are you excited about Oppenheimer?