Best movies and series starring Cillian Murphy on Netflix
(Credit: BBC)

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Best movies and series starring Cillian Murphy on Netflix

“I personally think if something’s not a challenge there’s no point doing it because you’re not gonna learn much.”

Cillian Murphy, the Irish actor who is more popularly known for his role as the iconic Thomas-fucking-Shelby in the popular Netflix show Peaky Blinders, has a vast filmography that successfully blends the mainstream and the world of independent cinema. For his role as a trans woman trying to find lost love and her mother in Breakfast on Pluto, Murphy proved his talents yet again and grabbed the Golden Globe for Best Actor in Musical or Comedy. Although Murphy primarily starred in theatre productions and indie films at the beginning of his career, his genius slowly gained recognition with Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later where his dreamy, far-off look worked to his advantage as a confused comatose survivor who finds himself in the middle of a zombie pandemic. 

After a tryst with many other films, he finally reprised the role of Scarecrow in Nolan’s Batman Begins and the Dark Knight respectively. Although he initially auditioned for Batman, Nolan was so impressed by his extraordinary eyes that he ended up casting Murphy as the Scarecrow and Murphy thrived in the terrifying role. Nolan admitted that he “kept trying to invent excuses for him to take his glasses off in close-ups”, using Murphy’s baby blue eyes to a dangerous advantage. Murphy has the incredible talent of duality where he can go from being angelic to sinister incredibly fast. Murphy appeared in various films such as Inception, Dunkirk, The Wind That Shakes the Barley and more. 

An incredibly private person who has admitted that he has “never indulged in controversy, sleeping around or getting drunk,” Murphy is a brilliant actor and performer who manages to bring out the psychological conflict of his characters with incredible poise. Today, on his 45th birthday, let us take a look at some of his best films and series on Netflix (what a shame it is, however, that Inception is no longer available on the platform). 

Best movies and series of Cillian Murphy on Netflix 


Peaky Blinders (Steven Knight, 2013-)

Steven Knight’s 2013 series, Peaky Blinders is a period piece that set in between the two Great Wars, the success of which ended up changing the course of British crime dramas. With its moody and dark palette, Peaky Blinders revolves around the various escapades of the Black Country gang who are notorious for their riveting tendency to sheathe dangerous razor blades in their peaked caps as well as for their dangerous infamy. It closely chronicles the character development of the handsome and eloquent, Thomas Shelby whose cunning and shrewdness reeks of growing ambition.  

Riveting and fast-paced while recounting the tale of cold-blooded violence and suave gangsters and set in post-first world war Birmingham, Peaky Blinders manages to attract viewer attention properly. Cillian Murphy as the cold, calculative, scheming yet iconic Thomas Shelby with his electrifying on-screen presence wins hearts and helps grab attention. Murphy, however, hates the haircut which is a staple of Shelby. “People ask for a Peaky cut. It’s crazy that people like it – it hasn’t grown on me. It’s when you get the haircut that people start shouting at you.”

“Intelligence is a very valuable thing, innit, my friend? And usually, it comes far too fucking late.”


The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)

Billionaire-socialite-turned-caped crusader Bruce Wayne – AKA Batman – with the help of Harvey Dent and Jim Gordon, keeps organised crime in Gotham City minimum. However, the sudden arrival of a psychopathic and malicious villain, who calls himself the Joker, disrupts the peace and irks Batman enough to make him spiral into the path of seeking justice which ends up blurring the lines between vigilantism and his idealism. Meanwhile, a fire disfigures Harvey Dent’s face partially and his alter-ego, Two-Face emerges, with whom he embarks on a spree of bloodlust to avenge the death of his beloved fiance Rachel whom Batman loves as well. 

The Dark Knight helped Heath Ledger win a posthumous Academy Award for his brilliant Murphy returned in his cameo role as the Scarecrow but gets apprehended early on in the film by Christian bale’s Batman. One only wishes they got to see more of the maniacal Scarecrow. 

“He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.” 

Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2005)

After he witnesses his parents getting killed as a child, billionaire womaniser Bruce Wayne moves to Asia to train under his mentor Henri Ducard, a member of the evasive League of Shadows to fight evil. After he comes to know of the League’s mission to destroy Gotham City, Wayne decides to adopt the alias name of Batman, using his childhood fear of bats to his advantage to fight organised crime and clean Gotham of all evil. His loyal butler, Alfred, as well as the tech expert at Wayne Enterprises Lucius Fox helps him in the process. Batman‘s main challenges include stopping the Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul from shoving the city into chaos and madness.   

Cillian Murphy appears as Scarecrow – AKA Dr Jonathan Crane – who is a corrupt Chief Administrator at Arkham Asylum. He is sinister as the Scarecrow who plays on a person’s fear by using such toxins and is intent on exposing the corrupt Gotham population. Initially, Murphy was considered for Batman before being roped in as the Scarecrow.  Murphy wanted to manifest the psychologically manipulative mind of his character and “wanted to avoid the Worzel Gummidge look”.   

“I respect the mind’s power over the body. It’s why I do what I do.”

28 Days Later (Danny Boyle, 2002)

Chimps affected with the rage virus get freed from their cages by unsuspecting animal rights activists which send the world into a state of pandemonium. When Jum, a London bike courier, wakes up from his month-long coma, he finds the city alienated and ravaged. Filled with zombified humans, Jim finds himself grouping with a group of survivors and they embark on a tumultuous journey to struggle for survival amidst seemingly indefatigable obstacles. 

This was one of the more mainstream films for Murphy who was previously known for starring in indie films. The film is a scathing political allegory as well as a horrifying zombie flick which makes it one of the best movies made. Boyle is phenomenal and so are his brilliant, layered characters and in-sync dialogues which adds a touch of humanism to the impending apocalyptic doom. 

“Oh, great. Valium. Not only will we be able to go to sleep, if we get attacked in the middle of the night, we won’t even care.”