It seems Cillian Murphy believed typecasting would end up costing him the lead on “Peaky Blinders.” After all, prior to landing the lead role on the series, Murphy was hardly seen as a cinematic tough guy. During a 2022 interview with, the actor freely admitted he’d essentially spent his entire career leading up to “Peaky Blinders” playing the exact opposite of such roles. Even his villainous turns in “Red Eye” and Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy” fronted intellectual tyranny over brute force physicality.
Murphy confessed in that same EW piece he believed that approach complicated matters during the casting process for “Peaky Blinders.” “There was slight hesitation because I’d never really played that physically imposing sort of hyper-masculine-type character,” Murphy said.
As it turns out, Murphy was right to worry, as Steven Knight wasn’t initially convinced the actor could properly convey the physically intimidating aspects of Tommy Shelby. In fact, the “Peaky Blinders” mastermind admitted inhe first believed Murphy to be the “polar opposite” of Tommy. In a separate chat, Knight further confirmed he’d considered casting career tough guy Jason Statham in the role instead.
That would’ve been a different show for certain. Per Esquire, Murphy finally convinced Knight he could carry the role via a pointed text message stating simply, “Remember, I’m an actor.” Murphy rewarded Knight’s gamble by delivering one of the fiercest performances of his lauded career. And no, there’s not a single moment in “Peaky Blinders” where you don’t fully believe his Tommy Shelby could dismantle a human being with his bare hands.