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What Most People Probably Never Knew About Cillian Murphy

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Having an actor like Jason Statham as Tommy Shelby in “Peaky Blinders” could have completely changed the dynamic of the character. The nuanced portrayal of a violent but vulnerable individual haunted by his past would probably take a backseat to a no-nonsense governor who blows things up, settles scores, and takes no lip. Would the cheeky persona Statham is renowned for have been a good fit for Shelby? As a sensitive soul brutalized by a world gone wrong, Shelby has a stillness and watchful wariness to him that channels itself more through intense expression and less via choreographed action and sheer physical presence.

Yet “Peaky Blinders” creator Steven Knight told Esquire that the choice between Shelby and Statham was a tough one, saying, “I met them both in LA to talk about the role and opted for Jason. One of the reasons was because physically in the room Jason is Jason. Cillian, when you meet him, isn’t Tommy, obviously, but I was stupid enough not to understand that.”

According to The Guardian, Murphy sent Knight a text which read, “Remember, I’m an actor.” Although there’s been speculation that the text was Murphy’s subtle way of accentuating his talents over those of Statham, Knight begs to differ. The show’s creator explained, “What (Murphy) meant by the text that when he walks into a room, he’s not Tommy Shelby. But he can become him. He inhabits that role completely. It’s phenomenal. It is impossible to imagine anyone else playing him.”



Having an actor like Jason Statham as Tommy Shelby in “Peaky Blinders” could have completely changed the dynamic of the character. The nuanced portrayal of a violent but vulnerable individual haunted by his past would probably take a backseat to a no-nonsense governor who blows things up, settles scores, and takes no lip. Would the cheeky persona Statham is renowned for have been a good fit for Shelby? As a sensitive soul brutalized by a world gone wrong, Shelby has a stillness and watchful wariness to him that channels itself more through intense expression and less via choreographed action and sheer physical presence.

Yet “Peaky Blinders” creator Steven Knight told Esquire that the choice between Shelby and Statham was a tough one, saying, “I met them both in LA to talk about the role and opted for Jason. One of the reasons was because physically in the room Jason is Jason. Cillian, when you meet him, isn’t Tommy, obviously, but I was stupid enough not to understand that.”

According to The Guardian, Murphy sent Knight a text which read, “Remember, I’m an actor.” Although there’s been speculation that the text was Murphy’s subtle way of accentuating his talents over those of Statham, Knight begs to differ. The show’s creator explained, “What (Murphy) meant by the text that when he walks into a room, he’s not Tommy Shelby. But he can become him. He inhabits that role completely. It’s phenomenal. It is impossible to imagine anyone else playing him.”

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