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Cillian Murphy On The Strain Of Playing 'Ruthless And Relentless' Tommy Shelby

Cillian Murphy On The Strain Of Playing 'Ruthless And Relentless' Tommy Shelby

So, at long last, we now know how long we have to wait until we can get stuck into the much-anticipated fifth season of Peaky Blinders.

The show returns to BBC One on Sunday August 25 and Cillian Murphy will once again take on the role of central protagonist Tommy Shelby.

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Murphy told LADbible that Shelby is a character he loves playing - although the demands of the role leave a mark.

"It's an absolute gift, the character," he said. "I never anticipated having the opportunity to play the character for this length of time and to have the privilege of working on such great material, for people to have so much affection for the show, for it to have such reach, culturally and everything else.

"I love it. I mean, it's exhausting, but I would never moan about it because it's an actor's dream really.

"He's clearly a man who's suffered serious trauma and it's talked about, him being in the trenches in France in World War One, you know he was tunneler, which is the worst possible job you could have. Clearly he's never dealt with these things, clearly most of the men that were spat out of that conflict were now just told to get on with their lives.

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"So I think with Tommy it manifested itself with ruthless and relentless ambition, but I don't think he ever spent time trying to fix himself and I think the scars of that, the damage that has been inflicted on him by others and by himself is coming home to roost."

Series 5 sees Shelby joining the establishment he once fought so hard against, taking up a seat as an MP. That will inevitably change Shelby's dynamic, said Murphy.

"Well there's that wonderful contradiction or conflict or balance between being a member of parliament, a Labour member of parliament, and then also being the head of a criminal gang - it's brilliant drama," he said.

"I think the reason people are attracted to Tommy is because he is very, very charismatic; you don't agree with what he does, but you desperately try to understand. It's never one or the other, we feel sympathy I hope for him sometimes, we feel anger for him and revulsion, but I've never seen him as one or the other, and I wouldn't transpose my set of morals on to a fictional character like that because then I couldn't play him."

The director of Peaky Blinders season five has said a film could work. Credit: BBC
The director of Peaky Blinders season five has said a film could work. Credit: BBC

Shelby will go toe to toe with a new enemy in the new series - far right figure Oswald Mosley, played by Sam Clafin.

"Tommy has to employ a whole new set of tools to battle with an ideology, as opposed to battling with a physical threat," said Murphy.

"The mafia last year was a pretty conventional threat, albeit a dangerous one, whereas this is a whole other level. If we're to go into it I think what Tommy sees is he's like, 'Oh fuck'. He's predicting another a world conflict. He sees what this man's values are and what that could lead to."

This in itself is plenty enough to get excited about, but there are few among us who wouldn't welcome a film, and the director of season five, Anthony Byrne, said it '100 per cent could work'. However, just because something could work doesn't mean it is going to happen, and it seems that Byrne would rather Peaky Blinders kept coming in season-sized instalments.

Murphy said Tommy's failure to address his issues catches up with him in season five. Credit: BBC
Murphy said Tommy's failure to address his issues catches up with him in season five. Credit: BBC

He said: "I think a film 100 per cent could work, but I'd rather watch six hours than two. Simple as that.

"You can go deeper into characters and spend more time in their world I think."

Murphy also said the six-hour series format had enabled the cast and crew to paint deeper and more complex characters than they could in a film.

When asked whether Tommy Shelby was more of a hero or a villain, Murphy told LADbible: "I think we've gone beyond those tropes now in television, because we're examining someone's contradictions and we're spending so long with them that you don't need to reduce them to one or the other.

"You need to do that in film, it's two hours, you need to have your villain and you need to have your hero, and they generally don't deviate from that sort of characterisation."

Featured Image Credit: BBC

Topics: TV and Film, UK Entertainment, Peaky Blinders

Jake Massey

Jake Massey is a journalist at LADbible. He graduated from Newcastle University, where he learnt a bit about media and a lot about living without heating. After spending a few years in Australia and New Zealand, Jake secured a role at an obscure radio station in Norwich, inadvertently becoming a real-life Alan Partridge in the process. From there, Jake became a reporter at the Eastern Daily Press. Jake enjoys playing football, listening to music and writing about himself in the third person.

 

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