Why Cillian Murphy Described His Intense Peaky Blinders’ Scenes With Sam Neill As A ‘Great Problem’

If you want to imbue a certain role with a sense of humanity, charisma, and a deep well that hints at darker elements to come, you hire Sam Neill. Between the Russian submarine¬†captain Vasily Borodin in “The Hunt for Red October,” his most recognizable appearance as Dr. Alan Grant in “Jurassic Park,” William Weir in “Event Horizon,” and even the curmudgeonly Hector in “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” the actor has made a career out of adding all sorts of new layers to roles that may have seemed straightforward and simple, at first glance.

Neill’s work on “Peaky Blinders,” however, may have done the most to upend the lovable character actor’s perception among general audiences in the best way. Just take it from his co-star, Cillian Murphy, who worked side-by-side with Neill for the majority of the show’s first dozen episodes. In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph just before the premiere of season 2, Murphy opened up about his experience working with Neill. To hear him tell it, the vast gulf between Neill’s lovely personality and his character’s hateful methods turned it into a “great problem.”

“He’s a good friend and I love him dearly, but we have this hatred in those scenes, so you go from hanging out and laughing to deep vitriol. He’s such a despicable character, but you can’t help but love him.”

One has to assume that’s exactly what played the biggest role in creator Steven Knight casting Neill in the first place. “Peaky Blinders” became so successful in part due to the brilliant writing that subverted what we may have expected from the cast. Without Neill’s work early on, the series may never have become the phenomenon it is now.

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