Cillian Murphy

Homegrown Talent in Hollywood

Hailed as ‘Cork’s answer to Colin Farrell’, Cillian Murphy has done the rebel county proud and has taken Hollywood by storm.


With his dazzling blue eyes, he’s landed roles in Blockbusters such as Inception and Red Eye. From humble beginnings, Murphy was born in Douglas, Cork City.

He got his first taste of stage acting, while he was a member of UCC’s Dramat drama society. He performed in their amateur production of Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, which coincidentally also starred comedian Des Bishop.

He landed the lead role in Disco Pigs, which was originally slated for a three week run in his native city. Due to the phenomenal success of the adaptation, the play ran for almost two years across Australia Canada and Europe. It was at this point in his career that he left University and pursued his newfound passion.

His first taste of international stardom came when he was cast as ‘Jim’, the hero of the piece in Danny Boyle’s post-apocalyptic masterpiece 28 Days Later. He soon caught the attention of acclaimed director Christopher Nolan, and was cast as the Scarecrow in 2005’s Batman Begins. Of the casting, Nolan remarked “He has the most extraordinary eyes, and I kept trying to invent excuses for him to take his glasses off in close-ups.”

He has lent his talents to many Irish productions too, starring in the top two grossing movies in Irish box office history; Intermission and The Wind That Shakes the Barley. His passionate portrayal in the latter garnered rave reviews, and was a very personal subject matter to Murphy. Shot in his beloved Cork, the movie depicted the fight for Irish Independence, and went on to win the Palme d’Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.

The Wind that Shakes the Barley

Murphy filming in Cork in 2005. Source:

Critical accolades came pouring in for Murphy, with a Golden Globe nomination and an IFTA win for his turn as lovelorn transgender Patrick/”Kitten” Braden in Breakfast on Pluto. He continued his winning streak with Nolan, and was cast in psychological thriller Inception in 2010. The movie was a blockbuster success, and grossed $160,000,000 worldwide. Since 2013, Murphy has played the lead in BBC’s Peaky Blinders, a series about a criminal gang in post-WW1 Birmingham. Peaky Blinders has attracted a huge audience and big-name actors like Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley fought to join the cast in season two. The critically acclaimed show has been given the green light for a third season, which is due to hit screens later this year.

Despite his success, Murphy is decidedly private, avoiding the chat show circuit and often skipping the red carpet. He works without a publicist and routinely attends his movie premieres alone. He has expressed his distaste for Hollywood, refusing to uproot his family and relocate. Although he now resides in Dublin with his wife and two boys, he remains a proud Cork man, despite having left over twenty years ago. “I am definitely proud to be from Cork, when you come back and drive through the city you can really see how beautiful it is”.


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