Everything you need to know about Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy

From where he's from to where he's going next…

Diane Shipley

If you're a fan of BBC One period crime drama Peaky Blinders, you'll no doubt be excited for the first episode of season five, which airs at 9 PM on Sunday, and when we'll finally get the chance to catch up with Thomas Shelby and his Birmingham gang. But while you might know all about Thomas's life of crime, how much do you know about the man who plays him, enigmatic Irish actor Cillian Murphy? Test your knowledge of the star of the show with our compilation of handy facts…

Where is Cillian Murphy from?

He was born in County Cork, Ireland on 25 May 1976, making him 43 years old. He enjoyed music from a young age and became interested in drama at secondary school. He and his younger brother Páidi formed a band called The Sons of Mr Greengenes (a Frank Zappa reference) and were offered a record deal but decided not to pursue it. Cillian went on to study law at University College Cork, where he started acting in the drama society, in productions of Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme and Little Shop of Horrors.


Cillian started out as a musician as well as an actor

When did he get the role in Peaky Blinders?

He took on the lead role of Thomas Shelby in 2013. He told The Independent that he was interested in the part because "[the scripts] were so compelling and confident, and the character was so rich and complex, layered and contradictory. I was like, 'I have to do this.'"

Was his character a real person?

While Thomas Shelby wasn't real, his cohort is loosely based on a gang that was active from the 1890s until the first part of the 20th century.

What else has Cillian Murphy starred in?

A lot of things! Mostly movies. You might have spotted him early in his career in 28 Days Later, Cold Mountain, or in thriller Red Eye opposite Rachel McAdams in 2005. That same year, he was nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for his role in Breakfast on Pluto, which also starred Liam Neeson. He went on to appear in The Wind That Shakes the Barley, The Edge of Love, and Inception and was Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow in The Dark Knight trilogy between 2005 and 2012. His recent films include Anthropoid and 2017's Dunkirk.


It looks like his character can expect some headaches this season

Is he married and does he have kids?

Cillian met visual artist Yvonne McGuinness in 1996 and they married in 2004. The couple share two children: sons Malachy, who is 13, and 12-year old Aran, and live in County Dublin.

MORE: THIS Harry Potter star wants a role in Peaky Blinders - and it needs to happen!

Why does he have that unique haircut?

The Peaky Blinders star's signature shaved short back and sides might not be the most flattering, but apparently it is period-appropriate, at least according to the show's hair and makeup designer Laura Schiavo, who told style site Fashion Beans that she was inspired by military haircuts and a book of photos of Australian criminals by Peter Doyle called Crooks Like Us. She also says it's become a statement in its own right. "When I first did it, the boys wanted to wear hats to hide it, but now they don't need to as everyone is wearing it."

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Where can we see Cillian next?

Aside from Peaky Blinders season five, which looks set to be explosive, expect to see the square-jawed actor in 1960s drama Hippie Hippie Shake and the upcoming sequel to horror film A Quiet Place.

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