‘Peaky Blinders’ star Cillian Murphy compares ‘Oppenheimer’ role to Tommy Shelby

"Tommy Shelby's a complete contradiction, too"

Cillian Murphy has spoken on his preparation for Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, noting the similarities to his role of Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders.

The actor will take on the role of the American theoretical physicist, whose work on the Manhattan Project led to the moniker the “father of the atomic bomb”, in Nolan’s new film.

Ahead of its release next year, Murphy has opened up a bit about his work on the character, revealing in a new interview with The Observer that he has been doing “an awful lot of reading”.


“I’m interested in the man and what [inventing the atomic bomb] does to the individual,” he said. “The mechanics of it, that’s not really for me – I don’t have the intellectual capability to understand them, but these contradictory characters are fascinating.”

Cillian Murphy
Cillian Murphy at the ‘A Quite Place Part II’ premiere in March 2020. CREDIT: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

Comparing Oppenheimer to the paradoxical nature of Shelby, he went on to explain: “Tommy Shelby’s a complete contradiction, too. People identify with that, because we all walk around with these contradictory ideas coexisting in our heads.”

Murphy also spoke about collaborating with Nolan again, notably after turns in the likes of Batman Begins and Inception, revealing he will “always turn up for Chris, whatever the size of the part”.

“Chris will call me up and I’m there,” he said. “Isn’t it wonderful that filmmakers are still making challenging, demanding films within the studio system, shot on film rather than Imax? I think he’s flying the flag. Him, Paul Thomas Anderson and Quentin Tarantino, are fantastic filmmakers making interesting work on a massive scale.”


Oppenheimer is also set to star the likes of Robert Downey Jr, Florence Pugh, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Josh Hartnett, Rami Malek, Dane DeHaan, Jack Quaid and Benny Safdie.

Meanwhile, Murphy is currently gearing up for the final season of Peaky Blinders, and recently revealed that the series will be a “tribute” to the late star Helen McCrory.