BBC Radio 4 - Desert Island Discs - Seven things we learned from Cillian Murphy's Desert Island Discs

Cillian Murphy

In the BBC series Peaky Blinders, Cillian Murphy portrayed the character of Tommy Shelby, which garnered him a massive fan following and numerous accolades. His association with filmmaker Christopher Nolan started during his portrayal of Scarecrow in The Dark Knight trilogy, and he has now acted in Nolan's Oppenheimer, which earned him a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination. The prestigious Irish Times has recognized Murphy as one of the most outstanding Irish actors in history.

Here's what we picked up from his Desert Island Discs...

"Stage Less Nerve-wracking Than Film For Him"

According to Cillian, one of the pleasures of performing in a theatre for an actor is that they have the opportunity to make corrections in their next performance after a bad one. However, with films, any mistakes or flaws captured on camera are permanent and cannot be rectified.

He confesses that he used to discover the task of working on a movie set considerably more difficult: "The tremendous lights and the vans, trucks, electricians and all the crew... They would stop everything and it would be so quiet, then you're anticipated to act. I found that incredibly daunting when I was a young actor. However, I believe I've learned to accept it now. Nonetheless, it was a significant responsibility to handle."

"Childhood Holiday Memories Revived Through Preferred Music"

Cillian, who is the oldest of four siblings, states that they used to have a cassette in their car during their childhood. They would all be squeezed in the back seat and would go on outdoor trips to different places such as France or Ireland.

"We possessed this record. I can recall each and every word from each and every tune, and I think I was unaware of how amazing the record actually was during that moment."

I recall a specific excursion where we traveled to France via ferry. Our mode of transportation was a Nissan Bluebird with my parents occupying the front seats and my two siblings, my grandmother, my younger sister in a baby seat, and myself squeezed in the back. However, beyond that recollection, I cannot recall any further details.

"Ha ha ha! There are too many people for just one car," Lauren chuckles in amusement.

"It cannot be done or permitted currently, but we were able to accomplish it," affirms Cillian with a nod.

The song is called The Boy in the Bubble and it's by Paul Simon. You can find it on the album Graceland.

[Images: Amanda Benson © BBC] The given section has been rephrased in simple, easy-to-understand English using different words.

"Love United By Irish Music: His Parents' Story"

Cillian says that they initially encountered each other at a traditional Irish music session in West Kerry, which eventually became a regular occurrence for them.

Both of them work as educators. Mostly, the teachers in my mother's family, while my father's side are predominantly farmers.

"We'll attend meetings at the local pubs which was a typical Irish experience during one's childhood - dozing off underneath the table with a bag of potato chips."

When I was asked to select some tunes for Desert Island Discs, I decided to include some classic Irish music since it was a big part of my upbringing. I must admit, during my teenage years, I had no interest in it whatsoever and refused to give it a listen. However, as of late, I'm beginning to rediscover my appreciation for it. My father recently came across this song on vinyl in a thrift store and gifted it to me. As soon as I played it on my record player, it was like magic to my ears.

The piece of music is called The Wandering Minstrel and it is performed by the skilled piper, Séamus Ennis.

"Teacher's Life Transformed By English Teaching"

Cillian recalls that he liked primary school better than secondary school. He admits that he used to be quite mischievous, although not with any harmful intent. Instead, he thinks he was just a troublesome student to instruct. He realizes that his behavior in class must have been taxing for his parents, who both worked as teachers.

The school primarily focused on academics and didn't offer many opportunities to pursue the arts. Additionally, it heavily emphasized sports, which wasn't of personal interest to me. However, I was fortunate to have an outstanding English teacher, Billy Wall. He is a talented poet and author who motivated me to develop my creativity.

During a conversation with The Irish Examiner last year, William Wall, the inaugural Poet Laureate of Cork, spoke highly of Cillian. Wall mentioned how he watched Cillian perform in a school play and immediately recognized his innate acting abilities. Wall was struck by how effortlessly Cillian portrayed his character without any formal training. Additionally, Wall added that Cillian was a kind-hearted individual who still holds a special place in his heart for Ireland and his hometown of Cork, despite his celebrity status.

According to Cillian, it's beneficial to have a supportive teacher on your side. He comes from a family of educators and knows firsthand how crucial a single great teacher can be. Cillian believes that teachers are often undervalued despite their immense impact on students' lives. A good teacher has the power to guide their students in the right direction and help them succeed.

"Oppenheimer's Specific Acting Demands"

From the beginning, Cillian was aware that playing J Robert Oppenheimer, a physicist in theory, would require him to convey his character's inner thoughts through subtle movements and actions.

"I have always been fascinated by the kind of acting where you can observe the character's thoughts and the face becomes a canvas. I was aware that Chris Nolan was going to incorporate this style in this particular project."

I understood that the character was very introspective, so the portrayal had to be subtle and focused inward. Additionally, I was aware that the film was being shot on an IMAX camera, which has a very high resolution and is intended to be shown on a massive 80-foot screen. Therefore, I knew that the physical aspect of the performance didn't need to be overly exaggerated.

I think it's about effectively conveying your thought process through your facial expressions and eye movements. However, I am aware that this is not my forte and I am not trying to make a lasting impression in this way.

"Then, I suppose that you infuse a part of your own identity into it before combining everything together, resulting in Oppenheimer being portrayed through both Chris and me's unique perspectives."

Was He Almost A Music Star?

When Cillian was a teenager, he was part of a band called Sons of Mr Green Genes as the lead singer and guitarist. His brother was also in the band. At that time, Cillian's ultimate goal was to pursue a music career. He was passionate about it and had no other plans. He actually believed that it would happen.

A record label based in London proposed a contract for five albums to the band, but Cillian's dreams of pursuing music at a young age were brought to a halt. He admits that his parents, along with some others, were against the idea and eventually prevented it from happening. Looking back, Cillian believes that they were right in their decision. In fact, he wouldn't let his own child make a similar decision at such a young age, as he strongly believes that signing away one's artistic freedom to a corporation is far from ideal.

Although it may appear to be a significant setback for a budding artist, when Cillian rejected a recording contract, he expeditiously accepted it and simply moved forward. While he could have been devastated, he remained composed and persevered.

Cillian is still deeply passionate about music, and he has selected a guitar as his desired luxury item for the desert island.

"Island Time For Fulfilling Long-time Wish"

Cillian has expressed his selection of book in a rather high-brow manner. He admits to owning the entire compilation of Samuel Beckett's works, which features a captivating portrait of the author wearing an intense expression while staring down at him. Despite having this book in his possession, Cillian confesses that he has yet to read it.

One of the authors I admire the most has an extensive collection of literary works that I greatly appreciate. Every single piece of writing is outstanding in its own right.

Born in the suburb of Dublin called Foxrock, Samuel Beckett came into the world in 1906. His contribution to literature earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in 1969.

I am aware that I must read the entirety of it and I intend to do so. This could be the ideal chance for me to begin from the beginning and finish at the conclusion. As I gaze at that lovely painting, I would place it in an elevated position on a boulder.

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