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Cillian Murphy Is the Man of the Moment

With all due respect to the Peaky hive, this film did seem to go especially wide.

“Yes,” he said, laughing. “But you’d be surprised. Peaky is still the thing I get asked most about in the world.”

As if on cue, Murphy was approached by a fan on the street who asked for a photo.

“Oh, I don’t do photos,” he said, to a disappointed lad, who nonetheless got 20 seconds of Murphy’s time to chat.

“Once I started doing that,” he said, “it changed my life. I just think it’s better to say hello, and have a little conversation. I tell that to a lot of people, you know, actor friends of mine, and they’re just like: I feel so bad. But you don’t need a photo record of everywhere you’ve been in a day.”

“There is a culty effervescent kind of wonder about Cillian,” Blunt said. “I think for someone as interior as he is, this level of kinetic fame is, like, horrifying for him. If anyone is not built for fame, it’s Cillian.”

To make it up to that fan, I asked Murphy what the status is of a potential Peaky Blinders film: “There is no status, as of now. So I have no update. But I’ve always said I’m open to it if there’s more story. I do love how the show ended. And I love the ambiguity of it. And I’m really proud of what we did. But I’m always open to a good script.”

We passed some young people in dark dresses and heels, absolutely worse for the wear. “Look at these guys, out from the night before,” Murphy said, smiling. I asked him if he had his days of partying in Dublin, in London. “I mean, I did, but it was with my friends. I was never part of any scene—or go to, like, acting clubs. I would never go to the premiere.… The idea of going to a premiere that isn’t your own, seems to me like…”

We passed Trinity College, an occasion to discuss the breakout Irish series Normal People and its breakout Irish star Paul Mescal. “He is the real deal. He is like a true movie star. They don’t come along that often. But,” Murphy said, serving the lightest and rarest touch of pride and swagger, “luckily, they seem mostly to come from Ireland.”

“It’s a good time,” he added, “to be an Irish actor, it seems.”

Cillian Murphy Is the Man of the Moment

We stopped in at the Kerlin Gallery to see the show of his sister-in-law, Ailbhe Ní Bhriain. She and Murphy’s wife were friends in graduate school in London, and Murphy’s brother met her while visiting Cillian there. This is his scene. He walked around admiring the pieces, which he’d heard about at family functions, but not yet seen in person.

“Now this work immediately appeals to me,” he said, “because you can feel it’s pushing at big, big themes, and to me, that’s what I’ve always loved. I don’t really go for pure entertainment. I love when it makes you feel a little bit fucked-up. Not in a horror-genre way, but in a psychological, existential way. That’s what I love in all the work that I enjoy and the work that I try to make.”

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