Murphy attended the Presentation Brothers College, Cork, and later studied
law at University College Cork (UCC). Initially his interest in performing was
led by music. He played guitar with a Frank Zappa influenced band called Sons of
Mr. Greengenes. However, by the time he left college his primary interest was
acting. His first major role was in the UCC Drama Society production of Observe
The Sons of Ulster Marching Towards The Somme. He went on to appear on stage in
After touring with Disco Pigs in London, Edinburgh and Cork, he left UCC without graduating.
Disco Pigs was Murphy's first big break. He was cast in the central role of Pig in Corcadorca's 1996 production of Enda Walsh's original play. He later reprised that role for the 2001 feature film version by Kirsten Sheridan. Also, he wrote and sang the song So New for the soundtrack. However, it wasn't until Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later became 2003's sleeper hit in the USA that the bigger studios and directors started to take notice. As for the actor's full-frontal nudity in the film, Murphy claimed he was perfectly comfortable doing nudity if the role called for it.
In recent years he has had smaller parts in such Hollywood films as Girl with a Pearl Earring and Cold Mountain. 2005 was the year that brought Murphy into more reknown with his acclaimed performance as Dr. Jonathan Crane (aka The Scarecrow) in Batman Begins and for his role as the terrorist, Jackson Rippner, in Red Eye, co-starring Rachel McAdams as his would-be victim.
Cillian Murphy originally auditioned for the role of Batman / Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. Christopher Nolan was reportedly impressed with his audition; while he decided to give Christian Bale the lead role, he persuaded Murphy to play Dr. Jonathan Crane (aka The Scarecrow). It is not known if Murphy will be returning for the sequel, although he has stated that he would if asked to.
Recently, Cillian Murphy starred in the movie Breakfast on Pluto, based on the novel of the same title by Patrick McCabe, for which he received outstanding reviews. Additionally, he was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor in Musical or Comedy in this movie, though he lost to Joaquin Phoenix for his role in Walk The Line.
Murphy married his long term girlfriend, Irish-born Yvonne McGuinness (b. 1972), in August 2004 in Provence, France. They recently had a son, whom they named Malachy, and they currently reside in London, England.
According to Entertainment Weekly magazine, he was #3 of "The Most Valuable Players of Summer 2005", a list for entertainers who have outstanding breakthrough performances for the year 2005. He was placed behind Terrence Howard and Matt Dillon. The magazine went on to compare him with Robert Mitchum.
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