Oscar-nominated actor Cillian Murphy has admitted that being in the spotlight has been difficult for him, but he will try to enjoy himself at next month’s Academy Awards.
The Cork-born star has been nominated for his first Oscar for Christopher Nolan’s epic historical film Oppenheimer and will be up against the best actor award as he goes up against US leading men including the maestro’s Bradley Cooper.
He was also nominated for a BAFTA for his portrayal of the father of the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, in the film – which won 13 Oscars – and has already won a Golden Globe for the role.
Murphy – also known for horror film 28 Days Later, thriller Red Eye and playing Tommy Shelby in hit BBC crime series Peaky Blinders – is often tight-lipped about his private life and has spoken of finding red carpets “challenging”.
On BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Lauren Laverne asked him how he would cope with being out of his comfort zone at the Oscars.
The Cork-born actor, 47, said: “I’ve struggled with it in the past and you know it’s not something I’m completely comfortable with – but I think you have to decide to enjoy it and I think that you can do it in your brain, just make that change and then it will be easier.
“I’ll have my wife and kids with me, and it’s been wonderful… and you’d be eejit if you didn’t enjoy what it leaves behind, that’s my attitude.”
He also said that having his wife, visual artist Yvonne McGuinness, by his side was “key” to feeling grounded, as “the sort of ancillary aspect of being an actor is quite demanding”.
Murphy added: “Having a really secure solid foundation [with fame] is important. It was very important to me, you have to have that safe place.
“I think definitely where it’s like an island of comfort and ease.”
He also admitted that he gets “nervous” on film sets more than on stage, as there is a record “forever” and you can’t improve a performance overnight.
Murphy, whose first role was in Enda Walsh’s Disco Pigs, which he then returned to in the film adaptation, said: “I found all the equipment to make the film, huge lights and vans and trucks and electricians and all the crew. and all [that] would come to a complete stop and complete silence and then we would have to perform.
“When I was a younger player, I found it very, very intimidating. I think I’ve come to terms with it now, but it was a lot to take on.”
He also starred in director Nolan’s superhero film Batman Begins, the sci-fi film Inception and the war epic Dunkirk.
Murphy said he and Nolan have a “very close” relationship as colleagues, but they “don’t hang out and go bowling”.
He added: “It’s a wonderful feeling to walk on stage and feel safe and, most importantly, to be able to make an eejit out of yourself, that you can fail, that you can be wrong… and I’ve always had that with me. I’ve always felt that around him and it’s just a gift.”
Murphy also said it was “a bit of a relief” that Peaky Blinders ended its sixth season last year, but if “phenomenal writer” Steven Knight does a good script, he will play crime boss Tommy in his 50s.
He also said: “It was the right time to take a break [the show]. I think we all needed a break from each other.”