Irish actor Cillian Murphy had his big break in Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later and has gone on to play small roles in Girl With A Pearl Earring and Cold Mountain. He recently starred in Batman Begins and plays a transvestite cabaret singer in Neil Jordan's Breakfast on Pluto, which opens tomorrow [UK].
Do people constantly get your name wrong?
Yes, but slightly more people can pronounce it now. That's how I know that my recognition factor is increasing. But it's only because your movie makes a lot of money, people will go: "Hey, let's put him in a movie." It's not necessarily about the performance.
Is it true you flew to LA and back in a day because you wanted a part so badly?
Yes, it was for the film Red Eye and I was so compelled by the script that I flew there to meet Wes Craven, had a 40min lunch with him at the airport and flew home again. I got the role.
You were very creepy in both Red Eye and Batman Begins. Do you like playing villains?
I've done two villains in maybe ten movies and that's it for me. I've done my quota and I don't want to repeat myself.
Did you take the scary guy gone with you from work?
If you talk to my wife about how I am during different films, she says she can see a marked difference. Obviously, when I come home in the evening, I do switch off and put the bins out but it seeps in there by osmosis. I'm sure I've been an arsehole. It's a difficult thing living with an actor.
You're someone very different in Breakfast On Pluto - a young, confused transvestite.
Yes, I make a very pretty girl.
Did you do lots of research into being a pretty girl?
I did actually. I take my hat off to ladies. I couldn't believe the amount of grooming and plucking and shaving.
How vain are you?
I'm an actor so obviously my appearance is important to what I do but I don't really have the patience to spend time on the way I look. It's much harder for women because they are so judged on their appearances. And leading ladies are totally judged by their looks.
Did you always want to be an actor?
Growing up in Cork, I wanted to be a musician for ages. I was playing in bands and foolishly attempting a degree in Law which I abandoned quite quickly. I was always into movies and then, when I was 20, I saw this unbelievably cool, sexy, brilliant play and it made me knock on the stage door and ask for an audition. They gave me a part in a play called Disco Pigs, which became a movie and I continued from there.
Do you mind be called 'the new Colin Farrell'?
It happens, but it's so myopic. The fact that he's Irish doesn't mean they say: "Hey, you're Irish, come in and have the part." No one is going to give you a role because you're Irish and drunk.
Weren't you once offered a record deal?
Yes, and I was in a band but it was just stupid, I think. Music is my absolute passion and I'll continue to play albums and go to gigs. I get more of a kick out of meeting rock stars than actors.
Didn't you meet Mick Jagger?
I'd just bought Gimme Shelter and I met him in Cannes. I was like, "Mick, you were jamming with Ike Turner," and he was like, "I've never fucking jammed with Ike Turner." I said, "But I watched it," and he was like, "No, man." And then suddenly there was a blonde and he was gone. I also met Stevie Wonder in LA. That was quite overwhelming because he's one of my heroes.
Is that one of the perks of being a well-known actor?
Yes, people are very nice to you.
Would you move to LA?
I don't need to live in LA. I'd be tremendously far away from my family - I'd never see them.
As a star, do you get sent stuff from PR companies?
There is so much free stuff but I'm really not comfortable with that. I don't have a stylist or anything like that. I just wear my own clothes but at least I can pass the free stuff on to my brother and sisters.
Interviewed by Scott Tenorman, 12 Jan 2006 - Metro Lothian and Borders Edition