Cillian Murphy Says ‘Peaky Blinders’ Fame Can ‘Ruin Experiences’: ‘It Kind of Destroys Human Behavior’

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By the time Cillian Murphy brought war veteran and gangster Tommy Shelby to life on “Peaky Blinders,” he had already starred in at least one horror classic (“28 Days Later”), a Cannes winner (“The Wind That Shakes the Barley”) and four Christopher Nolan blockbusters (including key supporting roles in “Batman Begins” and “Inception”). And yet, it was Shelby and the British gangster drama that ran for 6 seasons and 36 episodes that turned Murphy into an international star, the kind that gets recognized everywhere he goes.

During a recent interview with Rolling Stone U.K., Murphy lamented over the explosive fame that “Peaky Blinders” ignited. The actor said such fame “can ruin experiences, because it fetishizes everything: you can be walking down the street and someone takes a picture like this is a fucking event. It kind of destroys nuance and human behavior, but that’s part and parcel of it. Fame evaporates with regularity.”

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“I’m around here all the time and no one gives a fucking shit,” Murphy said about the interview location, which was set up in his home country of Ireland. “Nobody cares. I go to the shop. It dissipates. But if…one of the guys from ‘Succession’ walked in here, I’d be all intimidated and shaky. When you’re confronted with someone you’ve invested a lot in, or you think is amazing, the encounter is strange.”

“I don’t really partake. I don’t go out,” Murphy added. “I’m just at home mostly, or with my friends, unless I have a film to promote. I don’t like being photographed by people. I find that offensive. If I was a woman, and it was a man photographing me… No comment. I think it’s the Tommy Shelby thing. People expect this mysterious, swaggering… it’s just a character. I do feel people are a little bit underwhelmed. That’s fine, it means I’m doing my job. ‘Peaky’ fans are amazing. But sometimes I feel a little sad that I can’t provide — like — that charisma and swagger. He couldn’t be further from me.”

“Peaky Blinders,” created by Steven Knight, premiered on BBC Two overseas (its final two seasons moved to BBC One), but after the show arrived on Netflix its popularity exploded. The series finale aired in April 2022, but Knight has been outspoken about continuing the narrative in a feature film.

“If there’s more story there, I’d love to do it,” Murphy told Rolling Stone U.K. about a “Peaky” movie. “But it has to be right. Steve Knight wrote 36 hours of television, and we left on such a high. I’m really proud of that last series. So, it would have to feel legitimate and justified to do more.”

Murphy next stars in the lead role of Christopher Nolan’s atomic bomb drama “Oppenheimer,” in theaters July 21 from Universal Pictures.

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