Peaky Blinders Gave Cillian Murphy Something He's Never Experienced As An Actor

There's something special about Thomas Shelby that makes him so intimidating to people, and commands their attention. Is it a credit to his flattering three-piece suit and newsboy cap concealing a razor blade? His menacing strut or the unmissable aura of danger and unpredictability? The years of hard work put in by actor Cillian Murphy? Or is it a combination of all of them?

To play a character for as long as Murphy has played Thomas Shelby in the acclaimed gangster drama "Peaky Blinders" is no easy feat. The Irish actor has worked hard to maintain Tommy's enigmatic, imposing figure and has spent hours perfecting his gruff Birmingham accent. Murphy has portrayed Tommy for a decade; he has grown with the character in real-time, allowing it to drive him during his performance, permitting it to have a life of its own. It's a one-of-a-kind experience to play someone for so long, and it's an opportunity Murphy has never had in his career before.

'The character was in control of the vehicle'

Ahead of "Peaky Blinders" season 6 releasing, Cillian Murphy discussed how fascinating it had been for him to play Tommy Shelby through all these years. The BBC series first premiered in 2013, and the Irish actor has dabbled in multiple projects along the way — including "Anthropoid," "A Quiet Place" and "Dunkirk" — but he kept coming back to reprise his role as the crime boss/family man at the end of every project.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Murphy explained how "Peaky Blinders" allowed him to grow older with a character, an experience he has never had in his career.

"We started shooting this [Peaky Blinders] in 2012, so when it comes out, that will be a decade, so it's a big chapter of my life, a big chunk of my life. In between, I did lots of other things but I've never had that experience of growing older with a character or being able to inhabit it to a point where the character starts thinking for you in the performance. That happens toward, certainly series 4, 5, and 6, it was definitely the character was in control of the vehicle, if you know what I mean. That's amazing, I've never had that experience before."

Getting into character is more than putting on a newsboy cap

You'd think that returning to the same character every year would get easier — but not when it's a role as demanding as Tommy Shelby's. As per Murphy, "it wasn't just putting on a cap" and getting into the costume that made him feel like the Shelby family patriarch. There was an entire process: sitting down with showrunner Steven Knight and the directors, going over the scripts, among other things.

Cillian Murphy had a strict health regime to follow and get into shape, and then there's the accent — which required "a lot of work." The "Batman Begins" star put in a lot of effort to "refresh" the accent before every season — switching from his natural cork accent deserves more praise than it gets.

"It's not one of those ones you can get out of the car and you're ready. It's a lot of work," the actor said of his performance.

The Peaky Blinders influence is real

Murphy also shared that wearing the three-piece suit and cap was very "flattering," mainly because it made one "feel" like the character. "Peaky Blinders" is a phenomenon on its own, but its costume's growing popularity has inspired viewers and fans across the globe to replicate the look.

In fact, a trend titled the "Peaky Blinders effect" caused an 83% rise in the sale of flat caps in the UK in 2016-2017 ... not to mention that Tommy Shelby's haircut has captured the attention of all of Britain (via The Telegraph). Murphy has described the trend as a "crazy thing," seemingly in disbelief. The "Peaky Blinders" might be a group of gangsters and criminals, but well, at least they've got style.