After six seasons, Peaky Blinders has finally come to an end. The explosive BBC crime drama exploring the rise of the Shelby family in Birmingham post-WWI has thrilled and entertains audiences since its debut in 2013. While the series, created by Steven Knight, is full of visual flare, spectacle, and action set-pieces, what fans love most about Peaky Blinders is the suave and enigmatic Thomas Shelby, played brilliantly by Cillian Murphy.
With fans of Peaky Blinders will no doubt be missing the series already, now is a perfect chance to revisit some of Cillian Murphy’s best movie roles to date. While Thomas Shelby is without question Cillian Murphy’s most popular role to date, making the Irish actor a household name, he has starred in a number of amazing movies throughout his career.
Stream on Netflix
Throughout Cillian Murphy’s successful film career he’s been a frequent collaborator with acclaimed blockbuster director Christopher Nolan. In this 2010 time-bending action classic, Cillian Murphy plays Robert Fischer, the target of Leonardo DiCaprio’s team; their goal is to subconsciously plant an idea into his mind. Full of ground-breaking visual effects, thrilling action set-pieces, and a plot that twists and turns, Inception is easily one of director Christopher Nolan’s best movies to date.
Inception is one of the most successful original movies of the century and boasts a top performance from Murphy alongside a stellar cast including Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Marion Cotillard, among others.
Stream on Paramount+
Cillian Murphy plays Robert Capa, a nuclear physicist, in this underrated sci-fi classic from director Danny Boyle, with a script by Alex Garland (who would go on to direct modern sci-fi classics Ex Machina & Annihilation).
Sunshine tells the story of a team of astronauts that journey to reignite the sun with the force of a nuclear bomb. Boasting a star-studded cast including Michelle Yeoh, Chris Evans, Mark Strong, and Benedict Wong, Sunshine is particularly notable for its scientific accuracy (helped by physicist Brian Cox who worked on the movie as a scientific advisor). Sunshine, like all the great influential sci-fi movies, tackles big issues, such as the age-old debate of faith vs. science and whether humanity can survive out there in the cosmos.
28 Days Later (2002)
Stream on HBO Max
28 Days Later was the breakthrough role for Cillian Murphy, the one that launched his film-acting career. This low-budget British post-apocalyptic zombie thriller from director Danny Boyle is particularly influential in the genre because it pioneered the fast-moving zombie so often seen in modern zombie movies like World War Z & Army of the Dead.
Murphy plays the lead character Jim, who wakes up from a coma to find that a highly contagious disease has led the world to ruin and the complete breakdown of society. Hugely influential for the zombie genre since the time of its release in 2002, the movie has seen something of a resurgence in popularity in recent years as the COVID-19 pandemic has spread worldwide.
The Delinquent Season (2017)
Available to rent on Apple TV+
The Delinquent Season is an Irish romantic drama movie written and directed by Mark O’Rowe (who also worked as a writer on the critically acclaimed BBC series Normal People). Cillian Murphy stars as Jim, one half of one of the two couples at the center of the movie who struggle with infidelity in their respective marriages.
Something of a different role for Murphy, who’s not known for his work on romantic dramas, The Delinquent Season didn’t make a big splash on its initial release but is definitely worth a watch for his performance alone.
Red Eye (2005)
Available to rent on Apple TV+
Cillian Murphy stars as the villainous antagonist in this Wes Craven psychological thriller. Murphy plays Jackson Rippner opposite Rachel McAdams as the film’s hero Lisa Reisert. Red Eye was released in 2005, the same year as Batman Begins, marking it a standout year for the actor, particularly in the United States.
Red Eye is definitely one of the lesser-known Cillian Murphy movies but is definitely worth a viewing for fans of the Peaky Blinders actor. The movie is also one of the last made by acclaimed horror filmmaker Wes Craven before his death in 2015.
The Wind That Shakes The Barley (2006)
Stream on AMC+
From classics like Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins to the more recent award winner Belfast, Irish history has been depicted on screen in a number of excellent movies. Perhaps the greatest Irish movie of all time though is the Cillian Murphy war drama The Wind That Shakes the Barley.
This war drama set during the Irish revolutionary war, and the subsequent civil war that followed, won the coveted Palme D’Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Directed by the socially active filmmaker Ken Loach, The Wind That Shakes the Barley stars Murphy as one half of the O’Donovan brothers at the heart of the film who fight for the IRA (Irish Republican Army) in pursuit of an independent Ireland.
A Quiet Place II (2021)
Stream on Paramount+
The second horror movie to feature on this list, A Quiet Place II, directed by John Krasinski, features Cillian Murphy as newcomer Emmett who aids the Abbott family over the course of the film. Murphy’s character is hardened and disillusioned by the state of the world, but learns to believe in humanity again thanks to Regan Abbott, the deaf daughter of Emily Blunt’s leading character Evelyn.
A Quiet Place II features a standout performance by Cillian Murphy who physically transforms into the role of a post-apocalyptic survivor. While the movie postponed its initial release due to the pandemic, A Quiet Place II was eventually released in May 2021, earning almost $300 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo).
Stream on Netflix
Dunkirk tells the impossible story of the famous WWII Dunkirk evacuation of British troops from Northern France. Murphy stars as the unnamed “Shivering Solider” picked up by civilian sailors, played by Mark Rylance and Barry Keoghan, after his ship is destroyed by Nazi German U-Boats.
Dunkirk is a thrilling war epic set across three separate locations: air, land, and sea. The movie also stars Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, and Harry Styles, among others, in leading roles.
Disco Pigs (2001)
Stream on Tubi
Cillian Murphy’s first feature-film acting role came in Disco Pigs (2001), directed by Kirsten Sheridan. The movie is based on a play of the same name by Irish playwright Enda Walsh, which also starred Murphy in the central role of Pig.
Disco Pigs revolves around two teenagers, who refer to each other as “Pig” (Cillian Murphy) and “Runt” (Elaine Cassidy) respectively, who have been inseparable since birth. As they approach their 17th birthdays, their relationship grows more destructive and intense. The movie is relatively unknown outside of Ireland but is definitely worth a watch for fans of Murphy.
Stream on Netflix & HBO Max
Batman Begins, directed by Christopher Nolan, marked Cillian Murphy’s first role in a major action blockbuster, introducing the actor to audiences around the world. Murphy plays the sadistic and insidious Jonathan Crane, better known by his comic book villain name: Scarecrow.
Nolan’s reimaging of the Batman mythos is revolutionary in the history of the character, and Batman Begins marked the beginning of the darker version of the character audiences are familiar with these days in movies like The Dark Knight & The Batman. Murphy’s menacing performance as the red herring main villain of the movie is iconic, leading the character to reappear in cameo roles in both sequels, The Dark Knight & The Dark Knight Rises.
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