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Cillian Murphy reveals how he got into character to play Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

The final season of the show will air from February 27th

Clodagh Meaney

Cillian Murphy has revealed how he got into character to play Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders.

The Irish actor has played Tommy Shelby, the head of the Birmingham based Shelby family and their crime gang, since 2013.

Speaking to Radio Times about getting into character, Murphy said he nailed the accent by going to the pub with the show’s creator and his “Brummie mates.”

“[They would sing] Birmingham City songs and telling all sorts of stories, and I was recording on my iPhone, and then I took that home, and used it to try and track the accents, you know."

"I would call Steve and just leave voicemails on his phone in the accent and see how close I was to it."

When it came to his character, Cillian said he has nothing in common with Tommy which made playing him more difficult.

"I’m not a very physically imposing person. So I have to eat a lot of protein and lift a lot of weights. So that takes a while, which I hate,” he said.

The final season of the BBC show will be dedicated to Helen McCrory who died in April 2021.

The actress, who played Polly Grey on the show, died following a private battle with cancer.

“I think this is the culmination of the series that hopefully improves upon the last season and makes the most recent one the richest and deepest one that we possibly can,” Cillian told Variety while discussing the circumstances around filming the final series.

“Partially because of all of the pandemic shit happening in the world and, of course, the really sad loss of (Helen) McCrory.”

“I think we are determined to make this a special series and we have been extra committed to working hard. I think the fans will be pleased.”

After being delayed by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, filming of the final series began in January 2021 but McCrory was absent due to her cancer diagnosis.

Murphy, who plays troubled gang boss Tommy Shelby in the Birmingham-set period drama, added: “I think the whole series is really in tribute to her and to honour her.

“Her presence and her character’s presence are very much still felt in the series, and it is very much part of Tommy’s journey in the season.”

“It’ll be different without her, you know. It simply won’t be the same. I’ve spoken about how phenomenal she was as an actress and as a person and it is an enormous loss to the whole acting community and not just for our show,” he said.

“My thoughts are always with Damian and her kids. I just hope that the show will live up to her memory and our memory of her.”

The show will premiere at an exclusive red carpet event in Birmingham on February 24th.

It will then air weekly on BBC One from Sunday February 27th.

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