‘Peaky Blinders’: Jason Statham was first choice for Tommy Shelby

Steven Knight's mind was changed by a text message from Cillian Murphy

Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight has admitted Jason Statham was his first choice to play Tommy Shelby.

His mind was changed by Cillian Murphy, who ended up being cast and still plays the character today.

“I met them both in LA to talk about the role and opted for Jason,” Knight explained in an interview with Esquire. “One of the reasons was because physically in the room Jason is Jason.

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“Cillian, when you meet him, isn’t Tommy, obviously, but I was stupid enough not to understand that.”

Knight then detailed how Murphy sent him a text message that changed his mind on his casting decision. “He sent me a text saying, ‘Remember, I’m an actor’,” Knight said.

“Which is absolutely the thing, because he can transform himself. If you meet him in the street he is a totally different human being.”

The sixth season of Peaky Blinders is currently in pre-production, as actor Stephen Graham, who is joining the show, confirmed earlier this year that filming has been put “on hold indefinitely” due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Knight had said season 6 will play as “a tragedy” with a political leaning. The new episodes were scheduled to return in 2021, but the release date is now undetermined in light of the delays.

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Reviewing the first episode of season 5 of Peaky Blinders, NME said “the cast is one of the best ever assembled for a British show,” praising “forceful scripts filled with choice lines”.

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