Oppenheimer star Cillian Murphy completes awards season domination with Oscar

Oppenheimer star Cillian Murphy completes awards season domination with Oscar

Irish star Cillian Murphy – who has won acclaim for his dark, brooding roles and his piercing blue eyes – completed his sweep of awards season as he landed an Oscar for his role in Oppenheimer.

The actor had already won a Golden Globe, a Bafta and a Screen Actors Guild award for his starring turn as theoretical physicist J Robert Oppenheimer in the biopic about the father of the atomic bomb.

Murphy said he would be “very content” with the public choosing to define him by his role in Oppenheimer.

“You’ve got to move forward but this has been a huge, huge moment for me,” he said backstage after his win.

“The movie is so special to me, and myself and Chris (Nolan) have such a special relationship, I just feel very privileged to continue to work with him and I’m very proud that this is a film that is provocative and asks questions, and is challenging and yet so many people went to see it.”

Born in Cork in 1976, his breakthrough role came in 2002 with the Danny Boyle film 28 Days Later, playing a bicycle courier who wakes from a coma to discover the accidental release of a highly contagious, aggression-inducing virus has caused the breakdown of society.

He showed his darker side as a domestic terrorist in the 2005 thriller Red Eye, and also had turns in Breakfast On Pluto, the Irish war drama The Wind That Shakes The Barley and science fiction thriller Sunshine, which reunited him with Boyle.

96th Academy Awards – Press Room
Cillian Murphy admires his Oscar (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

He first collaborated with director Christopher Nolan in 2005, as Scarecrow in Batman Begins, a role he reprised in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.

He also appeared in Nolan’s films Inception and Dunkirk but it is his work with the director on Oppenheimer that has brought him the most critical acclaim.

Murphy said backstage: “We’ve been working together for 20 years, I think he’s the perfect director, he’s an extraordinary writer, he’s an extraordinary producer, he’s extraordinary visually… he presents this film like no one else does in the world and I just can’t believe my luck.

“I did a screen test for him when I was a kid and I thought that would be it, and it would be just enough to be in a room with Chris for a couple of hours and here we are, I’m just so humbled and thankful.”

Murphy also said he thinks Ireland is “really great at supporting artists and I think we need to continue to support artists and the next generation of actors and directors”.

Oppenheimer is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus: The Triumph And Tragedy Of J Robert Oppenheimer, written by Kai Bird and Martin J Sherwin.

The film chronicles his studies, his career, his direction of the Manhattan Project during the Second World War, and his eventual fall from grace after his 1954 security hearing.

Murphy was immediately touted as a potential Oscar winner for his performance as the conflicted theoretical physicist, and he has said of the man he played: “We’re all living in Oppenheimer’s world now. We’re all living in the nuclear age that he created.”

Golden Globe Awards
Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer (Universal Pictures/PA)

The film garnered Murphy his first Oscar nomination and he has been the actor to beat since the film debuted last summer.

On the small screen, Murphy won legions of fans for his performance as gangster Tommy Shelby in the BBC drama Peaky Blinders, which debuted in 2013 and for which he has been nominated for a TV Bafta.

He plays the leader of a Birmingham crime family in the aftermath of the First World War.

Murphy is married to the artist Yvonne McGuinness and the couple have two children, Malachy and Aran.

On stage collecting his best actor prize at the Oscars, he said he was “a very proud Irishman standing here tonight”.

At the end of his speech he spoke in Irish, saying “go raibh maith agat” which means thank you.