When you think of Tommy Shelby from “Peaky Blinders,” it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Cillian Murphy in the role. But did you know that Jason Statham was initially lined up to play the iconic character? Here’s the story of how Murphy turned the tables with just a five-word text message.
Jason Statham, a household name for action movie fans, was initially the front-runner for the role of Tommy Shelby. Known for his roles in films like “The Transporter,” “Crank,” and “The Expendables,” Statham has a reputation for playing tough, no-nonsense characters. Steven Knight, the creator of “Peaky Blinders,” was initially drawn to this aspect of Statham. He felt that Statham’s physical presence and action-hero persona would bring a certain gravitas to Tommy Shelby.
In an interview, Knight mentioned, “physically in the room Jason is Jason,” highlighting that Statham’s very presence could command the kind of respect and fear that the character of Tommy Shelby needed to exude. Knight was so convinced that he even met with Statham to discuss the role, and it seemed like everything was set for Statham to become the face of the Shelby crime family.
However, despite the initial momentum, things took a turn when Cillian Murphy entered the picture. Murphy, known for his acting skills, was not ready to let this opportunity slip through his fingers
Cillian Murphy’s Game-Changing Text
Cillian Murphy, known for his roles in films like “Inception” and “28 Days Later,” was not one to back down from a challenge. After learning that Jason Statham was the initial choice for Tommy Shelby, Murphy decided to take matters into his own hands. He had already met with Steven Knight in Los Angeles to discuss the role, but he knew he needed to do something more to tip the scales in his favor.
That’s when Murphy sent a text message to Knight that would change the course of “Peaky Blinders.” The text read, “Remember, I’m an actor.” These five simple words carried a powerful message. Murphy was reminding Knight that acting is about embodying a character, not just looking the part. His text was a nudge to Knight to reconsider what really mattered for the role of Tommy Shelby.
Knight was struck by the simplicity and depth of Murphy’s message. In a later interview, he admitted that he had been “stupid enough not to understand” that Murphy could bring the nuances and complexities of Tommy Shelby to life, even without the imposing physicality that Statham offered.
A Win for Murphy and a Triumph for ‘Peaky Blinders’
Cillian Murphy’s five-word text not only landed him the role of Tommy Shelby but also set the stage for one of the most successful TV shows of the decade. “Peaky Blinders” debuted in 2013 and quickly gained a massive following. The show has won numerous awards, including a BAFTA, and has been praised for its writing, acting, and cinematography.
Murphy’s portrayal of Tommy Shelby has been a standout, earning him critical acclaim and a legion of fans. His nuanced performance has added layers of complexity to a character that could have easily been one-dimensional. It’s hard to imagine anyone else bringing the same depth and intensity to Tommy Shelby.
But the success of “Peaky Blinders” isn’t just about one character or actor. The show has become a cultural phenomenon, inspiring fashion trends, fan theories, and even themed bars and events. Its impact has reached far beyond its original UK audience, capturing the imagination of viewers around the world.
The show has also spawned a successful line of merchandise and even a video game. Plans for a movie have been discussed, further proving that “Peaky Blinders” has become more than just a TV show; it’s a brand, a lifestyle, and a global sensation.