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Cillian Murphy on Becoming Peaky Blinders’ Thomas Shelby

What drives the violent World War I veteran? How does Polly factor into the final season? What's the story behind that haircut? The Netflix drama's star explains all.

by | June 4, 2022 | Comments

As the final season of Peaky Blinders comes to Netflix, Rotten Tomatoes caught up with star Cillian Murphy to talk about how he became gangster Thomas Shelby and what attracted him to the role. Starting with a “serendipitous” request he made of his agent to investigate British TV roles in series that carried the weight of HBO’s The Wire, Murphy talks about the research he did into World War I for the series created by Steven Knight, as well as the importance of his costars and their characters, like Tommy’s “closest confidant” Polly, played by actress Helen McCrory, who died in 2021. Murphy says PTSD and personal trauma defines the character, who progresses from war veteran to violent gangster to political operative over the course of the series. “He’s burdened by his intellect,” the actor says, explaining the character’s relationships and ambitions. He also explains details like the “brutal” haircut and the gang’s fashions that have defined the look of the show. Murphy calls the death of Grace (Annabelle Wallis) “one of the biggest moments in the series” and an event that haunts Tommy, redefining one of the most complex characters in modern TV and film.

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