Whether it’s a post-apocalyptic hero, a superhero’s nemesis, an orphaned transgender teen or an Irish revolutionary, Cillian Murphy makes it his own. A fan of Dazed since the beginning, his creative goal is to challenge himself.
Dazed & Confused: What were you like 20 years ago?
Cillian Murphy: I was 15 so I was probably a bit of a cock. I guess quite kind of full of myself but completely insecure, confused, confident.
D&C: What have you learned since then?
Cillian Murphy: I don’t know, what do you learn in 20 years? A bit more sense I hope, I guess you realise the value of things, what’s important, what’s not.
D&C: Have you always been creative?
Cillian Murphy: I was always into making stuff but it was music or theatre or film, all of those but just at different times.
D&C: What was it that inspired you then?
Cillian Murphy: Bands I guess, mostly it was music for me. Bands that were around at the time and people like The Beatles who my dad introduced me to. Stuff like that and movies as well but that really wasn’t until later.
D&C: So what made you switch from music to film?
Cillian Murphy: I did a lot of theatre first and it just became a more important way of expressing myself.
D&C: What there a particular experience that inspired you the most?
Cillian Murphy: I saw a production of Clockwork Orange in Cork, where I’m from, when I was about 19 and that kind of flipped a switch for me. I realised it was set in a nightclub and theatre wasn’t all promenade and it wasn’t posh, it was very relevant and effecting to a kid and I realised that theatre didn’t have to be exclusive or sort of, old plays about people that didn’t have any relevance so that was a big moment I think. The movie was banned when I was a kid, you had to get it from Canada or the States I think but yeah, it’s a masterpiece.
D&C: What age were you when you decided that acting was what you were going to do?
Cillian Murphy: I was about 20 I suppose, about 15 years ago. It never happened overnight, it sort of gradually grew and I decided I wanted to do it. It wasn’t a “Eureka!” moment I sort of realised I could make a living.
D&C: Was there a particular actor who inspired you or who you wanted to emulate in any way?
Cillian Murphy: Lots and lots at the time: Irish, American and European but I wouldn’t be able to say one in particular because there are lots of different aspects to people’s careers I’ve always admired.
D&C: What were your goals when you started acting?
Cillian Murphy: I just wanted to do different work and to challenge myself, not repeat myself. I never had an idea just to work in film, I’ve always wanted to work in theatre or TV or film, and whichever one provided the best part or challenge.
D&C: Does it become harder to find a challenge the longer your career is?
Cillian Murphy: Yes and no, because people are more aware of your work but then, they’re more willing to give you a chance so it’s kind of both.
D&C: What is it that attracts you to a project?
Cillian Murphy: It’s a variety of things but generally it’s the word on the page, the script has to be interesting and exciting and the part has to be something I haven’t done before. Those things are hard to find so you have to be patient. And that’s one thing you do learn as you get older, you learn patience.
D&C: What was it that attracted you to your recent releases, In Time and Retreat?
Cillian Murphy: In Time has an amazing concept and premise to the film which I’m drawn to, there’s not that many original ideas let it seems, or around, or I don’t get to read them anyway but was a really concept and I enjoyed it. Retreat is a great little chamber piece with three actors in a house and that was all, we had to carry the movie with us three actors and that’s always exciting as well because you get to work with great actors.
D&C: What does success mean to you?
Cillian Murphy: Having some sort of satisfaction in the work and being proud of the work that you’ve done, I suppose. Anybody that’s creative has to be forward thinking and if you stop at all and get pleased with yourself you can stagnate pretty quickly. I don’t really know what success is but it should always be about moving forward.
D&C: Is there a particular moment of your career that’s been a highlight for you?
Cillian Murphy: There’s been many but because of that I loathe to pick out one or another because it should always be about the next thing, the next part, the next project should be the best. And you have to have that hunger for it I think.
D&C: You’ve worked with a number of directors several times, is there something about each of them that keeps you going back?
Cillian Murphy: Yeah, re-collaboration is brilliant in this game because you have a shorthand and you’re comfortable with the person and you know what they want and you know what they expect from you and what you can give them so it’s really nice to go back and work with people again. I understand why people do that and this business is brilliant because you get to meet different people all the time and you get to observe and be inspired by different people so it can be very exciting.
D&C: Is the experience of doing a big blockbuster like an Inception or Batman Begins and a small film in a room with 3 other actors much different?
Cillian Murphy: The cheque! I think a film set is a film set, the same rules apply generally its just how many resources you have to spend and it’s how you manage those resources. The good director will manage those resources as best he or she can so for me it’s always been about the material, not about the size of the budget or the special effects or the sights and sets or whatever it might be, it’s just whether it seems valuable to be involved in.
D&C: How has your career changed since the last time you were featured in Dazed?
Cillian Murphy: I don’t know, I feel like I’ve been working since then which is good. I hope it’s changed for the better really, I’ve done a lot of different things and I hope to continue to do different stuff.
D&C: How would you describe the experience of being featured in Dazed?
Cillian Murphy: Well, it’s a magazine that as a teenager was such a bible of what was important and relevant at the time so it was great to be featured in it. And I think it’s remained so despite what’s happened with magazines and the internet, I think it’s remained so relevant and important so it’s always great to be asked to be involved.
D&C: Why did you choose Craig Roberts as your back cover?
Cillian Murphy: I did a film with Craig this year in Barcelona with Rodrigo Cortez who directed Buried last year and we had this incredible cast of Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro and myself and Craig. We got on really well and then I saw Submarine afterwards and I thought he was phenomenal in it. We’re supposed to be doing another film together so it just great to see a young actor who’s so gifted and such a great laugh and with such a great sense of humour.
D&C: Are there any other actors who you think might go on to do great things?
Cillian Murphy: There are always brilliant actors around the corner and it’s great because you go and watch their movies and go wow, that person is extraordinary and it should make you brave and make you hungry to continue to improve. And it’s great when you get to work with them as well.
Styling Tracey Bicholson
Hair Christian Eberhard at Julian Watsons
Make-up Ayami Nishimura at Julian Watson using Mac Cosmetics
Jacket by Emporio Armani; shirt by Dries Van Noten; trousers by Yves Saint Laurent