Date of Birth
25 December 1976, Douglas, Cork, Ireland
5' 9" (1.75 m)
Striking Irish actor Cillian Murphy was born in Douglas, the oldest child of Brendan Murphy, who works for the Irish Department of Education, and a mother who is a teacher of French. He has three younger siblings. Murphy was educated at Presentation Brothers College, Cork. He went on to study law at University College Cork, but dropped out after about a year. During this time Murphy also pursued an interest in music, playing guitar in various bands. Upon leaving University, Murphy joined the Corcadorca Theater Company in Cork, and played the lead role in "Disco Pigs", amongst other plays.
Various film roles followed, including a film adaptation of Disco Pigs (2001). However, his big film break came when he was cast in Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later... (2002), which became a surprise international hit. This performance earned him nominations for Best Newcomer at the Empire Awards and Breakthrough Male Performance at the MTV Movie Awards.
Murphy went on to supporting roles in high-profile films such as Cold Mountain (2003) and Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003), and then was cast in two villain roles: Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka The Scarecrow, in Batman Begins (2005) and Jackson Rippner in Red Eye (2005). Although slight in nature for a villain, Murphy's piercing blue eyes helped to create creepy performances and critics began to take notice. Manhola Dargis of the New York Times cited Murphy as a "picture-perfect villain", while David Denby of The New Yorker noted he was both "seductive" and "sinister".
Later that year, Murphy starred as Patrick "Kitten" Braden, an Irish transgender in search of her mother, in Neil Jordan's Breakfast on Pluto (2005), a film adaptation of the Pat McCabe novel. Although the film was not a box office success, Murphy was nominated for a Golden Globes for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical and he won Best Actor for the Irish Film and Television Academy Awards.
The following year, Murphy starred in Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006). The film was the most successful independent Irish film and won the Palm D'Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Murphy continued to take roles in a number of independent films, and also reprised his role as the Scarecrow in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight (2008). Nolan is known for working with actors in multiple films, and cast Murphy in Inception (2010), as Robert Fischer, the young heir of the multi-billion dollar empire, who was the target of DiCaprio's dream team.
Murphy continues to appear in high profile films such as In Time (2011), Red Lights (2012), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), the final film in Nolan's Batman trilogy.
Murphy is married to Yvonne McGuinness, an artist. The couple has two sons, Malachy and Aran.
His father is a school inspector and his mother is a French teacher.
He schooled at Presentation Brothers College Cork.
Has a younger brother, PÃ¡idi, a design engineer.
Lives in London, England.
He used to play in a Frank Zappa-influenced band called 'Sons of Mr. Greengenes' with his brother.
Has two sisters, Sile and Orla.
First name pronounced "Kill-ian". Not "Sil-ian".
He was planning a career in law until he discovered the world of acting.
Although he is a vegetarian, he learned to chop up meat in an abattoir for his role as butcher in Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003).
Auditioned for the role of Batman in Batman Begins (2005). The role was eventually given to Christian Bale. But director Christopher Nolan liked Cillian's audition so much that he gave him a role as Batman's enemy Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow, who is a developing character in this movie.
He was the oldest of four children.
Though he did not get the role of Batman in Batman Begins (2005), he did get to wear the batsuit during an audition with Christopher Nolan.
Proposed to wife while hill-walking in Ireland.
Son Malachy Murphy was born December 4th, 2005, weighing 7 pounds and 5 ounces.
Played two sociopaths in 2005: Dr. Jonathan Crane (Scarecrow) in Batman Begins (2005) and Jackson Rippner in Red Eye (2005).
As of 2006 he is the most nominated Irish Actor at the Irish Film and Television Awards with 6 nominations.
He greatly admires actor Liam Neeson. Looks at him as a surrogate movie dad.
He is fluent in French and Gaelic.
Had been pegged to play the lead in the independent movie, Once (2007). This did not materialize when he was hired for another project. Instead, the role went to Glen Hansard, the person who created the songs for the film.
Good friends with Colin Farrell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
He is the only actor playing a villain to appear in all three of Christopher Nolan's Batman films.
He is the first actor to play a DC Comics villain (The Scarecrow) in three consecutive films. Gene Hackman played Superman's nemesis Lex Luthor in three films but did not appear consecutively.
Filming Batman Begins (2005) in London, England. [April 2004]
Currently filming Sunshine (2007), with Chris Evans, in London. [August 2005]
Playing the part of "Beane" in the play "Love Song" - London. [January 2007]
He is a fan of Doctor Who (1963).
Is an avid fan of video games.
Agreed to a cameo in Tron (2010) because he is a big fan of the original TRON (1982).
In 2012 he won the Drama Desk award for Best Solo performance in Misterman.
Used to be a vegetarian for 12 years. When he started eating meat again, it was venison.
His American accent, when auditioning for Batman Begins (2005), was so convincing that the casting directors had no clue he was really from Ireland.
He still plays music and writes songs but has no intention of starting another band or pursuing it professionally.
An intensely private person, he prefers not to speak about his personal life and did not appear on any live TV chat shows until 2010.
He does not have a stylist or a personal publicist, travels without an entourage, and often attends premieres alone.
Dark brown hair and bright blue eyes
Strong defined jawline
I'd probably have been wealthier if I had stayed with law, but pretty miserable doing it.
It's basically lazy journalism if they say I'm the new Colin Farrell. This thing about heat, it's all just hot air.
"You're an actor who's Irish, not an Irish actor. And you shouldn't be limited by your extraction." - On breaking the Irish type cast.
"Well, the first part of the question, I think if you ask any male if you really want to get into a real suit, that was a dream come true, obviously, and then just to get to work with Chris, even for that little test, was amazing as well; and then, I don't know, he saw something in it that he thought maybe he could use for the other characters" - On auditioning for Batman Begins (2005).
"I can have a bit of fun with it, too, because my only motivation really is being bad. I love doing proper dramatic character studies, but it's also good to have a bit of fun, dress up and stuff". - On accepting the role of the Scarecrow in Batman Begins (2005).
"Well, we are doppelgangers." - On that Howard Stern nearly played Scarecrow, Cillian's role in Batman Begins (2005), in an early attempted adaptation.
If there's an opportunity to work with Ken Loach, you can't really turn that down. He's made some of the finest films of the past 25 years. Whether you like or dislike his movies, there's never a bad performance in them, ever. There's none of the bullshit. There's no trailers, no nonsense, no pampering. It's a breath of fresh air.
It's easy to take the check, you know, but if you want to have any longevity, just take things that have artistic merit in them. I want to do quality. If it's good telly, I'll do it. If it's good theater, I'll do it.
I've a very, very close-knit group of friends from Ireland. They and my family are the most important things to me.
"I don't know if anyone will ever sit beside me on a plane again." - On his role as a terrorist in Red Eye (2005).
Journalists have a myopic view of your versatility. They're like 'You only play the creep'.
If you behave like a celebrity, then people will treat you like a celebrity, and if you don't, they won't. There's not much to write about me in the tabloids.
Today I pick and choose my films very carefully. There's nothing I've done so far that I can't talk about with commitment and passion.
But you can make wonderful films within a small, independent environment and you can make wonderful films in Los Angeles, within the studio system. You hear a lot of actors saying, 'I'd never go to Hollywood and sell out.' But, if it's a good script and a good director, why not? To shut oneself off completely is, I think, very limiting.
Too many filmmakers today are trying to put their work into a box. I can't stand that! Making movies is a lot of work. Let's take some risks.
"To me, someone's sexuality is usually the least interesting thing about them. It's secondary. The only reason it becomes a source for dramatic storytelling is because people have made such an issue out of it." - About his character in Breakfast on Pluto (2005)
I'm not worried about being pegged, but it's important for me to knock down any perceptions of me that are out there.
I think there's such a thing as a performance gene. If it's in your DNA it needs to come out. For me it originally came out through music, then segued into acting and came out through there. I always needed to get up and perform.
I've always felt that the less the public knows about you, the more effective you can be when you go to portray someone else.
[Asked whether he finds himself drawn to dark characters] For me, drama is conflict. I'm not interested in a good man's life. I'm interested in contradiction. I'm interested in pressure, I'm interested in duress. All the great works of art, or film or literature, in my opinion, have elements of those in them. Because who wants to write about happy people?