Cillian Murphy: 'I'll never go to bed hungry again for a movie'

The actor deals with shipwrecks, scientists and supercomputers in his new films.

After Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto both won Academy Awards for powerful performances, aided by significant weight loss for Dallas Buyers Club, the Hollywood male may now be under the impression that dropping the once-requisite 'bulk' equals Oscar success.

Cillian Murphy isn't buying this theory. Particularly after he starved himself for an upcoming role, a process he has vowed to never repeat again.

For new movie In the Heart of The Sea, not released until next March, the Cork actor lost a reported 15lbs from an already slender 5ft 8ins frame while shooting the epic shipwrecked adventure last year alongside fellow slimmer, muscly Thor star Chris Hemsworth.

"Going to bed hungry is not something I want to do again," he says, although he is reluctant to address exactly how much weight he lost.

"And there were actors of different sizes so it was kind of, let's just say, there was more demand on others. But it was very hard."

Based on real events in the 1800s that inspired Hermin Melville's classic novel Moby Dick, Murphy recounts how director Ron Howard pushed the actors to their limits.

"It was a sort of film of two halves. The first half was a tank in London and it was amazing. They built this whole ship and put it in this faux-Nantucket port. It was incredible.

"Then we went to the Canary Islands, shot a couple of weeks out there, where we had to film out in the ocean and lose a load of weight. That was difficult, I won't deny that.

"The first part was great. The second part was hard."

The 37-year-old actor dismisses the notion that it could land him his first Oscar.

"The story has to justify it. There's no point getting skinny just to win awards.

"With Dallas Buyers, it was justified, and Matthew and Jared were both amazing in it.

"As of now," he says, "I'm looking for a role that I can get fat. Or even just portly."

Murphy gamely laughs at himself these days. It's a significant adjustment in timbre for a once-moody film star with a career largely based round a heady mixture of raw intensity and latent glowering menace, best exercised in Neil Jordan's Breakfast in Pluto, Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Chris Nolan's Dark Knight franchise.

Isn't it finally time for some slapstick?

"Let's just see if Judd Apatow sends me a script," he retorts. "The thing is, I've done a lot of comedy over the years, but just no one has seen it. Misterman [Enda Walsh's one-man play] was full of physical comedy. But I guess I don't get sent those scripts. And I suppose the pieces of art I've always been drawn to, from Shakespeare to Dostoevsky, there's more at stake when it's the end of the world, as opposed to The Wedding Planner. There's more scope for drama."

Before embracing his funny bone, he's starring alongside Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman in one of the summer's first blockbusters, Transcendence.

A directorial debut from Murphy's close friend, Wally Pfister, who was the chief cinematographer on four of Cillian's previous films including Inception and The Dark Knight Rises, Transcendence examines the increasingly hazardous relationship between humanity and technology and the progressive reality of artificial intelligence.

Cillian is Buchanan, an FBI agent investigating the shooting of Depp's rock star scientist at the hands of neo-Luddite radicals.

The case takes a twist when said scientist's conscious is uploaded to a sentient supercomputer just before his body flatlines. And this is when things take a turn for the megalomaniacal.

While intrigued by the concept, the father of two, married to artist Yvonne Guinness (McGuinness), seems to identify with a slightly more technophobic leaning.

"How can I put this simply? I buy a lot of vinyl, but I have a Spotify account," he says.

"I kind of try and keep a foot in both camps though I don't do any social media or any of that stuff.

"But the idea of artificial intelligence and uploading yourself to the web, it's fascinating. Will technology take over?

"What I like about the script, we're never sure if it's good thing or a bad thing. You never can truly say if what Johnny's character is doing is benign or malign."

As a family man, with a nine year-old, Malachy, and a seven year-old, Carrick, does he hold concerns as his young sons grow up in a world ever more dictated and dependent on technology?

"The kids are digital natives. They know nothing else so they can't conceive a world that isn't instantaneous.

"But you can still write letters and send stuff by post. Go into a shop and not buy something online.

"I try and keep them reminded of that."

While the increasing presence of social media and potential for online bullying creeps closer as his boys mature, he tries to maintains a balanced stance.

"You've got to monitor it, but it's very much putting a thumb in the dam of technology. It's inevitable, you can't keep them away from it.

"Anyway, they're not at that stage yet but I'll have to make that decision when that time comes. It's frightening, but it's inexorable. You just have to be smart."



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