Cillian Murphy Peaky Blinders audition: How did star win Tommy Shelby role?

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Cillian Murphy has played the brutal leader of the Peaky Blinders ever since the series first began in 2013. However, some fans might not realise how the star actually managed to land the iconic role on the series – here’s what the cast and crew have revealed.

How was Cillian Murphy cast as Tommy Shelby?

Peaky Blinders fans would find it difficult to imagine anyone but Cillian Murphy starring as brutal gang leader Tommy Shelby.

As the show’s protagonist, viewers have followed him from when he first returned from World War One in season one as he has built up his criminal empire.

Murphy will soon be reprising his role in the sixth season of the show when filming is able to begin again.

However, fans might be interested to know a bit more about how Murphy was cast in the role to start with.

The ball started rolling when Murphy decided he wanted to look at more television scripts as TV was becoming more cinematic at the time.

He told BUILD in 2019 this is partly what led him to the role in the first place before he decided he wanted to take it.

He said: “You think about it selfishly for the best work and for me it’s always been about the writing, that’s the only metric I have about doing something.

“I was keen to read some good scripts and they were the first TV scripts I got sent really quickly.

“I couldn’t understand the title so I was like, ‘I don’t know about that.’

“And then I read it and the whole opening sequence was just so beautiful and mythical and epic and then I was just hooked and knew I had to do it.”

Then writer and creator Steven Knight spoke a bit more about the next stages in the Obsessed With Peaky Blinders podcast.

Knight revealed how he had initially had his reservations about the casting due to Murphy’s build.


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He explained: “I’d nearly cast Cillian for a film that I’d made and ended up casting Jason Statham.

“There’s a huge difference as you can see. But when this role first came up, Cillian came and he’s not a big man.

“He’s quite slight and when he walks in as Cillian, he doesn’t look like a gangster from Birmingham.

“We did the meeting and afterwards he sent a text saying, ‘Remember I’m an actor,’ which is so true.

“And obviously when you see him when he walks onto the set, there now could not possibly, conceivably be anyone but him as Tommy Shelby.”

Fans would definitely agree with many excited to see Murphy back in the lead role when season six picks up again.

This will continue on from the season five cliffhanger ending, which saw Tommy hold a gun to his head in a tense final moment.

Viewers will then see him deal with new enemies as the show enters the mid-1930s.

Peaky Blinders seasons 1-5 are available to stream on Netflix now.

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