|Date of Birth:||May 25, 1976|
|Place of Birth:||Douglas, County Cork, Ireland|
|Height:||5’8″ (173 cm)|
Cillian Murphy is an Irish film and theatre actor. He is often noted by critics for his chameleonic performances in diverse roles, his distinctive blue eyes, and sex appeal. A native of Cork, Murphy began his performing career as a rock musician. After turning down a record deal, he made his professional acting debut in the play Disco Pigs in 1996.
Cillian went on to star in Irish and British film and stage productions throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, first coming to international attention in 2003 as the hero in the post-apocalyptic film 28 Days Later. Murphy’s best-known roles are as villains in two 2005 blockbusters: Scarecrow in the superhero film Batman Begins (he reprised the role of Scarecrow in a small cameo in The Dark Knight), and Jackson Rippner in the thriller Red Eye. Next came two contrasting and acclaimed starring roles: his Golden Globe Award-nominated performance as a glam transgender orphan teen in 2005’s Breakfast on Pluto and a turn as a 1920s Irish revolutionary in the 2006 Palme d’Or winner, The Wind That Shakes the Barley. In 2010, Murphy played Robert Fischer, corporate heir and the target of Leonardo DiCaprio’s dreamscape heist in the acclaimed blockbuster Inception.
A resident of London since 2001, Murphy often works in or near the city and has expressed no desire to move to Hollywood. Uncomfortable on the celebrity circuit, he customarily gives interviews about his work, but does not publicly discuss details of his private life and did not appear on a television talk show until 2010.
Murphy was born in Douglas and raised in Ballintemple, two suburbs of Cork. His father, Brendan, works for the Irish Department of Education, and his mother is a French teacher. Not only are his parents educators, but his aunts and uncles are also teachers, as was his grandfather. Musicianship also runs in the family, and Murphy started playing music and writing songs at age ten.
Murphy was raised Roman Catholic and attended the Catholic school Presentation Brothers College, where he did well academically but got into trouble often, sometimes getting suspended, until he decided in his fourth year that misbehaving was not worth the hassle. Not keen on sport, a major part of life at PBC, Murphy found that creative pursuits were not fully nurtured at the school. Still, it was there that he got his first taste of performing, when he participated in a drama module presented by Pat Kiernan, the director of the Corcadorca Theatre Company. Murphy later described the experience as a “huge high” and a “fully alive” feeling that he set out to chase. His English teacher, the poet and novelist William Wall, encouraged him to pursue acting, but at this stage, to Murphy, performing meant dreams of becoming a rock star.
In his late teens and early twenties, Murphy worked toward a career as a rock musician, playing guitar in several bands alongside his brother Páidi. The Beatles-obsessed pair named their most successful band The Sons of Mr. Greengenes, after a 1969 song by another idol, Frank Zappa. Murphy sang and played guitar in the band, which he has said “specialised in wacky lyrics and endless guitar solos.” In 1996, The Sons of Mr. Greengenes were offered a five-album record deal by Acid Jazz Records, but they did not sign the contract. Because Murphy’s brother was still in secondary school, their parents disapproved. Additionally, the contract offered little money and would have ceded the rights to Murphy’s compositions to the record label.
Also in 1996, Murphy began studying law at University College Cork (UCC), but he failed his first year exams because, as he put it, he had “no ambitions to do it.” Not only was he busy with his band, but he has admitted that he knew within days after starting at UCC that law was the wrong fit for him.
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In mid-2004, Murphy married his long-time live-in girlfriend, Yvonne McGuinness, an artist whom he met in 1996 at one of his rock band’s shows. The couple lives in northwest London with their two sons, Malachy (born in 2005) and Carrick (born in 2007). Murphy is known for being reluctant to speak about his personal life. He frequently gives interviews about his work but did not appear on any live TV chat shows, where actors customarily share information about their private lives, until 2010, when he was a guest on The Late Late Show on Ireland’s RTÉ to promote Perrier’s Bounty yet still remained politely reserved.
Cillian does not have a stylist or a personal publicist, travels without an entourage, and often attends premieres alone. Shy and private, Murphy professes a lack of interest in the celebrity scene, finding the red carpet experience “a challenge… and not one I want to overcome”. He intentionally practices a lifestyle that will not interest the tabloids: “I haven’t created any controversy, I don’t sleep around, I don’t go and fall down drunk”. Murphy is friends with fellow Irish actors Colin Farrell and Liam Neeson, looking up to the latter like a “surrogate movie dad.” But primarily, Murphy’s close friendships are those he made before becoming a star.
Music is still an important part of Murphy’s life. In 2004, he said, “The only extravagant thing about my lifestyle is my stereo system, buying music and going to gigs”. He no longer plays in a rock band, but regularly plays music with friends and on his own, and still writes songs. Unlike many other famous actors who are also musicians, he does not plan to start another band: “Even if I was good, the very notion of being an actor with a rock band on the side would mean I’d never be taken seriously”. Murphy is also a dedicated runner.
Murphy ultimately became an atheist after researching his role as a nuclear physicist/astronaut in the science fiction film Sunshine. He is a longtime vegetarian, not due to any moral objection to the killing of animals, but because of qualms about unhealthy agribusiness practices. Murphy participated in the 2007 Rock the Vote Ireland campaign targeting young voters for the general election. He has also campaigned for the rights of the homeless with the organisation Focus Ireland. In February 2012, Murphy wrote a message of support to the former Vita Cortex workers involved in a sit-in at their plant, congratulating them for “highlighting [what] is hugely important to us all as a nation”.