Finn Cole Knew Exactly Where He Wanted To Take His Peaky Blinders Character

Warning: Spoilers for the final season of "Peaky Blinders" will follow.

From long-lost relative and apple of Aunt Polly's (Helen McCrory) eye to sworn enemy of Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) on a relentless quest for vengeance, Finn Cole's Michael Gray was never quite the main villain of the final season of "Peaky Blinders" — that honor would undoubtedly go to Sam Claflin's fascist Sir Oswald Mosley — but he certainly posed the most immediate and personal threat to our PTSD-ridden main "hero."

Since his first appearance back in season 2, Michael's rise within the ranks of the Peaky Blinders has been swift, though not without its bumps along the way. After finally becoming accepted into the family (albeit hesitantly and mostly in deference to matriarch Polly), Michael worked his way from a mere accountant to someone who took a much more active role in the everyday business of the violent street gang. Perhaps it was somewhat too active, as his reluctance to remain entirely truthful with Tommy when confronted with an offer by Tommy's sinister rival Luca Changretta (Adrien Brody) led to his banishment in America. There, his ambitious wife, Gina (Anya Taylor-Joy), took on the role of Lady Macbeth and helped push Michael into making a power play for Tommy's crown, which directly set up his antagonistic role in the final stretch of episodes.

Although his Icarus impression ultimately ended with a bullet to the head after one final face-off with Tommy, Cole (whose real-life brother, Joe, portrayed his character's cousin and brother to Tommy, John Shelby) had long anticipated Michael Gray's arc — right from when he first read the script, in fact.

'I've always been fascinated by that power and how someone gets it'

In a 2017 profile with Gentleman's Journal, Finn Cole opened up about his journey as Michael Gray (to that point in the series, at least) and how he interpreted the character when he was first cast in the role. Few could've imagined that the baby-faced young man would eventually attempt to take a shot as the successor of Tommy Shelby himself, but that's just how life in early 1900s Birmingham tends to play out when one happens to have blood connections to the most notorious and ruthless gang the streets of England have ever seen.

Cole shed some light on his perspective of Michael Gray, invoking a few of his major real-world sources of inspiration that would prove to be eerily accurate by the time the main series ended its prestigious run:

"From day one when I first read the scenes, it was clear to me what I wanted to do. My influences were 'The Godfather' and stories about [Colombian drug lord Pablo] Escobar. Although they're terrible human beings, they are quite incredible. I've always been fascinated by that power and how someone gets it. Not that I could ever do it in real life."

That comment about power certainly mirrors Michael's own thoughts, which would ultimately lead him down a path where one overreach too many finally spelled his doom. "Peaky Blinders" may have wrapped up on the small screen, but a feature-length movie will continue the story in the coming years.