How Cillian Murphy convinced Peaky Blinders creator to give him Tommy Shelby role over Jason Statham

Cillian Murphy almost didn’t get the role of Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders, with Jason Statham initially being lined up for the show instead
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Christopher Nolan’s new blockbuster Oppenheimer is set to be released this month (July) and it is one of the most anticipated films of the year.

Peaky Blinders actor Cillian Murphy stars in the title role. The Irish actor plays physicist J Robert Oppenheimer, who works with a team of scientists during the Manhattan Project, leading to the development of the atomic bomb.

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The film has been directed by his long-time collaborator Nolan and the Hollywood film is expected to be one of the year’s highest-grossing films. Murphy is best known for his role as Tommy Shelby in the BBC show Peaky Blinders, which was created by Brummie writer Stephen Knight.

But Murphy previously revealed that he very nearly lost the iconic role as the Birmingham-based gangster to Jason Statham. In an interview with Esquire Magazine, the show’s creator Knight revealed how a text message he received following Murphy’s audition may have won Murphy the role over the English actor.

Knight said: “I met them both in L.A. to talk about the role and opted for Jason. One of the reasons was because physically in the room Jason is Jason. Cillian, when you meet him, isn’t Tommy, obviously, but I was stupid enough not to understand that.”

Knight said that Murphy then texted him a key detail which actually landed the role for him. “Afterwards, he sent me a text saying, ‘Remember, I’m an actor.’” It was certainly a good call from Knight, with Murphy’s turn as Tommy Shelby becoming one of the most iconic roles in British television in the last decade.

When is Oppenheimer released and what’s the plot?

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Oppenheimer is released on July 21. The film features an all-star cast recogniseable from other big budget movies - and a dramatic new trailer was released today showcasing the stunning visuals of the film.

Shot in 2022, the film tells the story of American scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in the development of the atomic bomb in the Manhattan Project during the Second World War. Oppenheimer became known as the father of the atomic bomb because of the instrumental role he played in developing the weapon of mass destruction that would bring the war in Japan to a close.

The Manhattan project was a secretive mission undertaken by the Americans, in collaboration with the UK and Canada, from 1942-1946 to build an atomic weapon before the Germans or Japanese and thereby win the Second World War. Robert Downey Jr, Emily Blunt and Matt Damon all star in the film.

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