Cillian Murphy: “You are given the chance to create and fail”

Cillian Murphy, who plays the troublesome ‘Shivering Soldier’ in Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk tells The Big Issue about the epic scale of the film

After playing the Scarecrow in Batman Begins (and a cameo in The Dark Knight), Cillian Murphy has already worked with director Christopher Nolan on some pretty big films, but Dunkirk was on a whole different scale.

“Occasionally you walk onto huge sets and are a little overwhelmed but when it comes down to the performance it’s very intimate and that’s really reassuring for an actor,” Murphy says.

“When you work on a film with Chris and Emma [Thomas, producer], the experience always feels incredibly intimate, even though they are big scale productions.  The way Chris shoots, he’s always right there with the actors, right beside the camera, he’s just there. It never feels big and it is actor driven so you always feel protected and given the chance to create stuff and fail and attempt stuff.

“You can see that in the performances he’s gotten from his actors,” Murphy continues. “People really trust him when you’re in the middle of creating a scene. And he’s really hands on. When we were shooting on the Moonstone he was doing every single department’s job. He’s so invested in it. So he’s right there with you in every experience and I think that’s why actors are so willing to give so much.”


In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.

In Dunkirk, Murphy plays the character known as the ‘Shivering Soldier’ in an incredible cast that includes Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy alongside relative newcomer to the screen Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles.