Peaky Blinders actor Cillian Murphy has shared how he persuaded creator Steven Knight to cast him as Tommy Shelby, instead of his first choice at the time: Jason Statham.
While promoting the horror sequel A Quiet Place Part II – which he stars in opposite Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds, Djimon Hounsou and Emily Blunt – the Irish actor was asked by The Guardian about his audition process for the hugely popular crime drama, and revealed how tenacious he was about bagging himself the role.
“There was a bit of convincing needed,” remembered Murphy. “Initially, there may have been some doubts about whether I had the requisite physicality, which I understand. I’m not the most physically imposing individual.”
Knight talked openly about how Statham was his pick to bring the Birmingham-based gangster to life back in July 2020, when he told Esquire: “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. He sent me a text [later] saying, ‘Remember, I’m an actor,’ which is absolutely the thing, because he can transform himself.
“If you meet him in the street he is a totally different human being.”
“It’s a cool story. If I was that succinct, I’ll take it,” Murphy laughed in the new interview, referencing said message. “Remember I’m an actor … and Statham isn’t? They are entirely unconnected.”
Following a bunch of production delays brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Peaky Blinders is currently filming its sixth season. As expected, Murphy will be back as Tommy for the final chapter, and will be joined by fellow returning players Paul Anderson as Arthur Shelby, Finn Cole as Michael Gray, Aimee-Ffion Edwards as Esme Shelby and Sophie Rundle as Ada Thorne.
It is not yet not been confirmed whether Polly Gray will appear following actor Helen McCrory’s tragic death in April.