Today is the wonderful Cillian Murphy's 36th birthday. Back in the dark ages of this blog, I had a HUGE obsession with the man. Like, I'm talking more than Ralph Fiennes obsessed. During that obsession, I managed to see pretty much everything he's been in, apart from maybe 3 or 4 films (which are impossible to find in NZ). He's a pretty brilliant actor, who has shown more diversity than the average Joe in the movie. As shown in my 10 favourite performances from the most underrated actor of our time:
10. Neil in Watching the Detectives
I guess you could say that Watching the Detectives is Cillian's only real foray into an out-and-out comedy. Unfortunately, this rom-com starring Lucy Liu isn't overly great - mainly because it is so insane. But Cillian still manages to be completely awesome as the lovesick puppy Neil, with his performance venturing into such over-the-top outlandishness that only he could possibly pull off. Plus, he plays my dream guy (he owns a video store, he knows lots about movies...what's not to like?) Hopefully he can get a better comedy soon, because I'd like to see the funny side of Cilly again.
9. Robert Fischer Jr. in Inception
Okay, so even I admit that Inception isn't a big 'actors' film, but I was impressed with Cillian's work as the incepted Robert. He may not get the most screen-time and he is dragged around for 95% of the movie, yet I fell in love with his arrogant little rich boy. Mainly because of how sexy he looked in all those suits. And the scene where the inception has worked and you see him crying (THE EYES!). And that little look he gives Leonardo DiCaprio at the end. That's why I was obsessed with him for half of 2010.
8. William Killick in The Edge of Love
The Edge of Love is a gigantic mess of a film, even with a cast that includes Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller and Matthew Rhys, and the good old WW2 setting. Yet, Cillian is the only good thing that came out of it. He plays a soldier who falls in love with Keira, then goes off to war, coming back suspicious that his wife may have been unfaithful while he was away. His character is tragic, as his frame of mind slowly unravels upon his return. Had the entire movie been focused on him, I would have been very happy.
7. Jim in 28 Days Later...
This is known as the film that brought Cillian to international attention, and I'm grateful that Danny Boyle's horror was the one to do that for him. He plays the hero of the story, waking up to a zombie apocalypse and suddenly thrown into trying to survive and keep everyone (human) around him alive, doing all sorts of horrible things along the way. He's fantastic, which is probably why this wasn't the only collaboration between him and Boyle.
6. Damien O'Donovan in The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Oh, this movie. I watched this on my 15th birthday since it was an R15. I waited so patiently for that day to come. After all that waiting, I can't say I really enjoyed the film, but certainly appreciated it for what it was. Yet again, Cillian was amazing. At the beginning, he is well-to-do young man looking to become a doctor, but then he ends up fighting against his brother for Irish independence. As you can imagine, Cillian could only but excel with that material.
5. Robert Capa in Sunshine
Say what you will about this movie, but I thoroughly enjoyed Danny Boyle's extremely underrated sci-fi flick. Everyone - which includes the now mega-stars Chris Evans and Rose Byrne - is on the top of their game. However, Cillian, playing the slightly arrogant hero of the story who is tasked with reigniting the sun (yeah), is absolutely brilliant. I mean, this is the kinda role that could be played by some big Hollywood hot shot in a film directed by Michael Bay. Even if it was directed by Michael Bay, Cillian would have been just as awesome in it.
4. Dr. Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow in Batman Begins
Giving Cillian's career an even bigger boost was Christopher Nolan casting him as one of the villains in his re-imagining of the Batman franchise. We all know that Cillian can go a little crazy, which is exactly what he does as the soft-spoken but then totally insane Jonathan Crane. I'm kinda pissed he won't be returning for The Dark Knight Rises (though anything's possible). I guess Cillian's getting a bit sick of Chris chucking a sack over his head in every movie.
3. Jackson Rippner in Red Eye
This movie is basically responsible for my aversion to air transportation. Imagine being terrorised by Cillian Muphy while you're up in the air, where you can't really run for help? Literally my worst (but maybe my best) nightmare. Even with a pen stuck in his throat, Cillian was totally terrifying, just by one look. Side fact: Wes Craven gave him the role because he was won over by his blue eyes. Craven and Murphy then went on to make me scared of those eyes for quite some time.
2. Patrick 'Kitten' Braden in Breakfast on Pluto
Watching Breakfast on Pluto was a depressing experience. Yes, it is quite a sad movie in some parts. But I was mainly depressed by the fact that Cillian Murphy is a much prettier girl than I am, and he's a man. Seriously? Anyway, his performance as the transgender Kitten, who likes to see the bright side of everything, got him recognition from the Golden Globes. To be honest, he should have won an Oscar. His transformation is fantastic - in fact, even when he is playing a 'man' in the film, you can barely believe that it's Cillian on screen. Alas, the film is an overlong, self-indulgent mess that doesn't take itself very seriously at all. See it for Cilly, though.
1. John / Emma Skillpa in Peacock
I didn't mean to have my top two performances of his be the ones where he dresses up as a woman, but here you go. Peacock is an extremely underrated film, which is silly considering it also stars Ellen Page and Susan Sarandon. This performance is his best because he plays two different characters: John, the awkward, severely mentally damaged John, who has multiple personality disorder, which leads him to spend half of his time as his 'wife' Emma. Words can't even explain how great this performance is. John is a difficult character to play, but having to play Emma on top of that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you can seek out Peacock, see the performance for yourself. It really shouldn't have gone straight-to-DVD.
Happy Birthday Cillian! What do you think of him? Do you have any favourite performances from him?