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Top 10 Cillian Murphy Performances

VO: RiB
Written by Richard Bush He’s a man of many faces. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 Cillian Murphy Performances. Working under the radar for a lot of his career, this Irish actor and former musician has racked up some seriously impressive roles, in both TV and film. But which are his most impressive? Special thanks to our users RamaZ, Ryan Otto, Jimi Holmberg, Neal11235 and jasper robbins for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Cillian Murphy Performances


He’s a man of many faces. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 Cillian Murphy Performances.

Working under the radar for a lot of his career, this Irish actor and former musician has racked up some seriously impressive roles, in both TV and film. But which are his most impressive?

#10: Robert Michael Fischer
“Inception” (2010)


We start with a huge Christopher Nolan blockbuster, and a dream-driven plot which is overloaded with narrative layers. Alongside a stellar cast, Murphy plays Fischer, the heir to an empire and the target for a mission of manipulation. Fischer’s a confident, well-dressed business type with everything going for him, apart from a turbulent relationship with his father. Under his three-piece facade lies a scared, neglected child, and Murphy strikes the balance between the character’s two personas perfectly.

#9: William Killick
“The Edge of Love” (2008)


It can be tough to hit the mark with a wartime romance, and to be honest, “The Edge of love” doesn't quite do it. However, it does serve up some great performances, one of which is Murphy as William Killick. Caught in a complicated love triangle and trying to battle with PTSD, Killick is the tragic good guy who returns from war, only to find that his love has been unfaithful. Moving from heartbroken tears to bouts of rage, with some singing and dancing to boot, Killick is an intricate character, played with conviction.

#8: Damien O’Donovan
“The Wind That Shakes The Barley” (2006)


To another war setting, this time with much more grit. Telling the story of hopeful medicine student Damien O’Donovan, who is inadvertently sucked into the carnage of conflict and joins the IRA in the 20s, this is a film about the unpredictable nature and savage reality of war. Having to morph to survive, be it becoming a leader or betraying his friends, Murphy’s portrayal of O’Donovan is captivating, and he was unanimously praised for it, receiving a host of prestigious award nominations.

#7: Robert Capa
“Sunshine” (2007)


With vivid visuals and a unique, compelling story, “Sunshine” is a standout sci-fi thriller that may have just passed you by. Murphy plays physicist Robert Capa, who heads up a team trying to reignite a dying sun in the year 2057. When things go south and panic ensues, Capa is the calculated voice of reason on the ship that keeps, or at least tries to keep, things together. Murphy studied extensively for the role, spending time with physicist Brian Cox - and the commitment paid off.

#6: Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow
“Batman Begins” (2005)


We’re not quite sure why, but Murphy does creepy really, really well. Whether it’s his vacant expression, unblinking blue eyes or his unnervingly calm voice, no one plays the villain quite like this guy. Take this role as the mad doctor and Batman baddie, Jonathan Crane aka Scarecrow. He’s cold, seemingly dead behind the eyes and he can evoke terror with a mere glance - and that’s before he’s even put his mask on. He sure frightens the life out of Tom Wilkinson, at least.

#5: Thomas Shelby
“Peaky Blinders” (2013-)


This role may not offer the type of out-there hooliganism you’d usually associate with a crime boss, but trust us when we say that Murphy’s got the ruthlessness to fit the bill. The head of an infamous Birmingham gang and a former soldier, he cuts a rather reserved character, but when his business empire or close-knit family is threatened, he pulls no punches. Switching from calm and collected to out-of-control in just a few moments, he gives brilliant depth to what is an incredibly complex character.

#4: Jim
“28 Days Later” (2002)


One of Cillian’s first big roles - albeit it on a relatively small budget - and his first collaboration with director Danny Boyle, “28 Days Later” tells of a zombie outbreak and the mayhem that follows. Waking up in hospital and plunged straight into the aftermath, Jim is an average Joe confronted with chaos. Acting as our eyes through the apocalypse, Murphy's character grows into the desolate world, and we watch how it changes him from a clueless everyman to a determined survivor. Relatable and likeable, he nails it.

#3: John and Emma Skillpa
“Peacock” (2010)


An awesome dual role here as Murphy plays John, who has multiple personality syndrome - with one of those personalities being his own wife, Emma. And after accidentally revealing his secret alter ego to the town's people, he has to keep up appearances as both himself and his partner. Flicking from nervous wreck to a friendly face, the transformation is truly amazing, with Murphy pulling off pristine performances from either end of the spectrum. But which personality will he stick with?

#2: Jackson Rippner
“Red Eye” (2005)


Ah yes, another villainous outing, this time in a Wes Craven thriller as an airborne terrorist looking to frighten the life out of Rachel McAdams’ Lisa. Threatening to kill her father if she doesn't help arrange an assassination, Rippner is terrifying, remorseless and relentless. Once again proving that he can intimidate with just a single piercing stare, there's also a violent edge to this menacing Murphy character - who is made even more intimidating by the confined, airplane setting. You’ll want want an aisle seat after this one.

#1: Patrick and Patricia "Kitten" Brady
“Breakfast on Pluto” (2005)


In what must be Murphy's most transformational role, this 2005 film sees him play a neglected, transgender woman who is searching for love. From a troubled youth to struggles with identity later in life, the complex character provides two unique outlooks - and Murphy manages the part with aplomb. In fact, to ensure greater accuracy in his portrayal, Murphy spent time with drag queens to study their mannerisms. A brilliantly touching film, it's Cillian's best work by far.
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