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Cillian Murphy Landed His Peaky Blinders Role With A Hilarious 5-Word Text

Steven Knight's "Peaky Blinders" is full of standout performances throughout its six seasons. At the same time, there are a few that are in a league of their own. Alongside the late Helen McCrory's turn as Polly Gray and Tom Hardy's work as Alfie Solomons, for example, in this elite class is Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby. He's a consistent highlight of the program, nailing every aspect of Tommy's complex character over the course of his arc. And to think, Murphy's remarkable run has its roots in a funny five-word text.

Murphy recalled the interaction with Knight as "Peaky Blinders" was coming together during an appearance on BBC's "Desert Island Discs" radio show. "I wasn't the obvious choice physically ... I don't know if I convinced him in the meeting ... but apparently afterwards, I sent him a text saying: 'Remember, Steve: I'm an actor,'" the "Oppenheimer" star shared. While the obvious nature of this text does make it seem a bit humorous, Murphy stood by those five words and the meaning behind them. He added, "I do think it's our duty as actors to transform to whatever the part demands."

Evidently, Knight understood where Murphy was coming from with his text. He cast him in the Tommy role, giving him a chance to put his acting transformation skills on full display and try out a character vastly different than those he was accustomed to.

Murphy saw the Tommy Shelby role as an acting challenge

By the time "Peaky Blinders" came around in 2013, Cillian Murphy was far from a Hollywood unknown. He'd starred in the horror favorite "28 Days Later," featured throughout the "Dark Knight" trilogy as famous Batman rogue Dr. Jonathan "Scarecrow" Crane, and even appeared in the mind-melting science fiction thriller "Inception." Despite appearing in all of these films and more, taking on a range of roles, Murphy still found Tommy Shelby to be a unique acting challenge that he simply had to try out.

"I'd never really played that physically imposing sort of hyper-masculine type character. In fact, I'd probably played the opposite up to that point. But I knew that it was such amazing material, and I knew that it was a gift of a role," Murphy told Entertainment Weekly of his initial feelings toward the character of Tommy. So, he made it his mission to score the part by any means necessary, going above and beyond to prove to Steven Knight and the "Peaky Blinders" team that he had the chops to pull it off. It was a logical next step bearing in mind his overall career philosophy: "I've always tried to do the unexpected or play roles that are challenging so that you never get trapped in a career."

Cillian Murphy turned out to be the perfect person to play Tommy Shelby and become the arguable face of "Peaky Blinders." The series simply wouldn't have been the same without him behind the character.