Top 5 Film Roles That Coulda/Shoulda Gone to Cillian Murphy
Presenting The CillianSite Top 5's second topic! Thanks to all the fans who came up with these imaginative selections. Some are roles he could have been up for—others call for time travel casting. Though most were unique, a few movies came up more than once—as did the suggestion that Cillian coulda/shoulda replaced certain actors (i.e. watch out, DiCaprio and Norton!). In all cases, it looks like we'd have no trouble keeping Cillian satisfied in his quest for character diversity!
#5. Superman Returns (2006), Clark Kent/Superman
Brandon Routh was eerily reminiscent of Christopher Reeve as the Twentysomething of Steel in Bryan Singer's latest contribution to the mythology, so often his nostalgic portrayal was more homage than anything else. I know Cillian is already participating in one costumed superhero franchise, and maybe it's just his gorgeous blue eyes that make me think this, but I truly believe he could have brought the same type of depth and believability to the role that Christian Bale brought to The Dark Knight in Batman Begins.
#4. Grace of My Heart (1996), Jay Phillips
Every performance in this heartfelt and moving film by Alison Anders is flawless—except for Matt Dillon's bumbling attempts to portray a Brian Wilson-like character (drugged-out genius, loves tympani) with a dash of Carl Wilson (death by drowning). As Phillips, Cillian would have been able to show us the compelling blend of sensitivity and madness that the role demanded and that Dillon's wooden acting could not provide. And, as a singer and musician he could have contributed something to the soundtrack. (And the idea of him being in a movie with Jeff and Steve McDonald of Redd Kross has nothing to do with it, I swear!)
#3. Red Dragon (2002), Will Graham
This movie was utterly superfluous, since Manhunter (Michael Mann, 1986) was and still is the best of the films based on Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter character. Not to take anything away from the often-impeccable Edward Norton as troubled FBI agent Will Graham, but it's not like he had to push himself to play the good guy who can tap into his dark side. Cillian, on the other hand, showed us how much better he can be at this type of role in 28 Days Later..., and would have given us—and the film—so much more.
#2. The Beach (2000), Richard
I despised George Lucas for stealing Ewan McGregor away from this movie, since that's who director Danny Boyle originally had in mind for the role of Richard. And I'd had just about enough of Leo DiCaprio at this point in time, what with all the Titanic hype, the wretched Man in the Iron Mask, and tabloid tales of clubbing with Puff Daddy P. Diddy. My mind reels with the possibilities of Cillian as this character: not totally evil but enough of a good-looking, arrogant prick to get on your nerves and make you root for him as the anti-hero.
#1. Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), Jonathan Harker
Few bad casting decisions bring more amusement and cringing than Keanu Reeves' deplorable attempts at a British accent in Coppola's often campy take on the world's most famous vampire. "I say, is the castle far?" Even with three lusty, Slavic, bloodsucking babes trying to seduce him, Reeves still seemed about as sexy as Ted Logan. Now for Cillian Murphy: Impeccable accents? Check. Sexy? Check. Looks good in huge sideburns? Check. I know Cillian would have been able to dazzle in this role of a kind soul tortured—but undeniably enthralled—by the idea that "the blood is the life."
Mistress Kizuna's List
#5. Sid and Nancy (1986), Sid Vicious
A rock star role would be awesome with Cillian, and Sid Vicious is perfect for him—the skinny punk idolizer who ultimately experienced fame and the fabulous so fast, it tragically came crashing down.
#4. Primal Fear (1996), Aaron Stampler
Edward Norton was brilliant, yes, but wouldn't Cillian just be awesome?
#3. Reservoir Dogs (1992), one of the Mr. "Colors"
I'm personally waiting for the day Cillian does a movie with Quentin Tarantino, and I'll rejoice the day it comes. But if I had the chance to, I'd love to see Cillian as one of the gangsters in Reservoir Dogs. It's a brilliant movie, and Cillian would be incredible as a thief "pulling off the perfect crime."
#2. Red Dragon (2002), Will Graham
I liked Edward Norton, but I felt like he didn't completely sink his teeth into the role. However, Cillian would've definitely gone the distance, especially in the Lecter/Graham interrogation scenes.
#1. A Clockwork Orange (1971), Alex DeLarge
When I saw and read A Clockwork Orange, I thought, "Wow, Malcolm McDowell totally looked like Cillian when he was younger." And although McDowell played Alex brilliantly in the film, I think Cillian would be absolutely incredible playing the remorseless criminal that Alex was.
#5. Gosford Park (2001), servant Henry Denton
Cillian can never fulfill his wish to work with the late Robert Altman, but if I'd been the casting director for this brilliant ensemble period murder mystery, I'd have cast him in Ryan Philippe's stead. Cillian would have been marvelous as the smooth bisexual American actor masquerading as a Scottish valet for research purposes. I'd have loved to have seen Cillian's interplay with Clive Owen, Emily Watson, Kristen Scott Thomas, Stephen Fry, Helen Mirren, and Intermission's Kelly Macdonald.
#4. Total Eclipse (1995), famed poet Arthur Rimbaud
18-year-old Cillian might not have been ready to play this part in 1994, but this is a Top 5 wish list, so it doesn't matter! Agnieszka Holland's film cast Leonardo DiCaprio as the teen Rimbaud opposite David Thewlis as his older lover and fellow poet Paul Verlaine. But wouldn't it have been delicious if the originally cast John Malkovich had played opposite Cillian? Absinthe, debauchery, transcendent poetry, and obsessive love? Yes, please.
#3. Punch Drunk Love (2002), businessman Barry Egan
How I would love to see Cillian in Paul Thomas Anderson's universe! Cillian's take on this introvert, who veers between awkward tenderness and bursts of rage, would have been amazing. Up against Philip Seymour Hoffman and wooing Emily Watson? Cillian would have eaten it up. Adam Sandler actually acquitted himself well here, but I would love to know what Cillian could have done with the part.
#2. The Science of Sleep (2006), artist Stéphane Miroux
Cillian reportedly speaks French, so perhaps the character could have been Irish/French instead of Mexican/French as was plotted for Gael García Bernal? This film was sublime, and the freewheeling moods of this character and the surreal landscape would have given him a chance to do many new things. I do hope that Cillian gets the chance to work with Michel Gondry someday.
#1. Velvet Goldmine (1998), glam rock star Brian Slade
I was tempted to cast Cillian in Christian Bale's place as Arthur, the fan/journalist, but I just cannot resist the idea of Cillian as neo-David Bowie in one of my all time favorite movies, Todd Haynes' rock 'n' roll Citizen Kane. I think Cillian would have been revelatory in this role, singing, strutting, and slutting it up, all in amazing glam outfits, while romancing both Ewan McGregor and Toni Collette. Sorry, Jonathan Rhys Meyers... or maybe you should apologize to me for getting yet another rock musical role in August Rush in Cillian's stead!
#5. The Last King of Scotland (2006), Dr. Nicholas Garrigan
I like the way this character changes in the course of the story. He's a doctor, a smart guy in a way, with a lot of self confidence but also very naive and understands nothing about power and politics. He doesn't really understand the country and the people he likes. He's both generous and selfish, clever and clumsy. He's sincere but calculating and eager as well. There's a kind of urgency and lust for life in this character which I'd have liked to see Cillian Murphy embody. But the performance of James McAvoy was remarkable.
#4. Pride and Prejudice (2005), Mr. Darcy
Because this character is not exactly the man he seems to be and because I'd like to see Cillian Murphy in this kind of part: very British (I'm French), dressed up, and a scornful, untouchable aristocrat who's moved by a girl so different from him and who appears to be a very romantic lover for her. There's a certain self-restraint in this part which would have suited Cillian Murphy, I think.
#3. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003), Dr. Stephen Maturin
This character is the good, civilized guy among all these army men. And a musician too. I liked his delicateness and humanity.
#2. Lord of War (2005), Vitaly Orlov
The tormented blue-eyed boy. A part for Cillian Murphy, ending violently covered with blood (well, full of bullets in fact!). He's the conscience his brother does not have ... which kills him.
#1. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Tom Ripley
Because of the perversity of this character: the guy who silently watches, loves, and manipulates. It'd be fascinating to see Cillian Murphy play this part.
#5. Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Sonny
Cillian describes watching Scarecrow and for the first time realizing the effect that film could have. I had this same feeling watching Dog Day Afternoon. And much as I love Al Pacino in this, I can easily picture Cillian in all these situations—from the adrenaline rush of the initial robbery to the escalating absurdity as one thing after another goes wrong to the mounting dread of the final moments. Besides, can't you just hear him screaming "Attica! Attica!"
#4. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), Carlos
Antonio Banderas has some big shoes to fill, but I think Cillian would do an amazing job in this comedy of errors. From discovering a Valium-addicted stepmother he never knew he had to accidentally doping his repressed fiancé to a sexual awakening at the hands of a desperate actress on the run from her ex-lover/terrorist, this romp is serious fun and a meaty role for someone with Cillian's sense of wonder.
#3. Reds (1981), John Reed
Movies always seem to suffer when the director also writes the script and stars, and Reds was no exception. Still, the story of the Russian revolution through the eyes of one of America's few true radicals is a compelling one, and I think it would have even more power played by Cillian with the same harsh acceptance of realism over idealism that we saw in The Wind That Shakes the Barley.
#2. Goodfellas (1990), Henry Hill
Henry was half-Irish and so never could be a "made man", but that didn't stop him from stirring up his own share of trouble. I think Cillian would be fantastic in this role, but my main reason for wanting to see him do it is for the coke-fuelled jitters on the final day.
#1. A Place in the Sun, George Eastman
OK, to be completely honest, I really want to see Cillian star in a biopic of Montgomery Clift's life. Barring that, seeing him play a man torn between his Calvinist upbringing and the allure of capitalism, between his promises to his impoverished sweetheart and the suddenly attainable young Elizabeth Taylor, would simply be too pretty for words. And when George makes his fatal choice between the two, I can't imagine anyone besides Cillian imbuing it with the tragedy that Monty Clift brought to the role.
#5. Gattaca (1997), Jerome
This movie, one of my favourites, is a futuristic drama thriller about genetic manipulation. The story is about a man who wants to travel to space, but his genetic imperfections are his worst nightmare, so he finds out how to assume the identity of a genetically superior man, Jerome. There is something in the Jerome character that I identify with Cillian.
#4. Dangerous Liaisons (1988), Valmont
The real reason I think Cillian would be a extremely delicious Valmont, besides the obvious (the beauty and elegant presence): I'd love to see him in those costumes. The clothing of those years are so attractive and sexy to me! Also the internal drama of this character, trying to keep the image of a seducer with no mercy, a French upper class gentleman, versus finding himself in love with one woman and beaten by another one. Cillian has much talent for drama; mixed with the seduction of his beauty, he would be simply perfect for this one.
#3. A rock star film
I mean an original story about some young rock star caught in the dark atmosphere of rock and roll, who becomes a promiscuous junkie and very famous star. After a very hard life, he chooses a better one. As you can see, it would be full of drama and passion—I think Cillian fits in.
#2. Interview With the Vampire (1994), Lestat
This is main role from Anne Rice's most popular novel; we have seen this character in several movies, and I loved it, but with Cillian perfoming ... oh my! I can just imagine his talent involving the intensity and passion very characteristic of the vampire roles. I really dream about it!
#1. Trainspotting (1996), Renton
From Danny Boyle's Trainspotting, I'd love to see Cillian perform this very attractive but almost lost junkie, who chooses to choose life in the end ... enough drama and sex appeal to fit Cillian!
#5. Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff
Any version, ever. Although I don't know how much of a challenge the role would be since he's sort of similar to Disco Pigs' Darren, only in period costume...
#4. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Brick
This Tennessee Williams work is one of my favourite plays, and the 1958 film adaptation starred Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor. I don't think Cillian would shy away from Brick's latent homosexual tendencies the way Paul Newman seemed to, and with the right leading lady he could have made this a real scorcher. There have been two made-for-TV remakes since then, which I have yet to find on DVD, but the most recent was 1985 so I think we're due another!
#3. Almost Famous (2000), Russell Hammond
Apart from getting to see Cillian directed by Cameron Crowe, one of the great romantics of our time, I'd love to see what he'd do with role of Russell. The guitarist is almost utterly self-absorbed—except when it comes to music—but I think Cillian could have brought a slightly harder, more cynical edge to his caddish behaviour compared to Billy Crudup's loveable rogue.
#2. Fight Club (1999), Jack
Now don't get me wrong, Ed Norton did a fantastic job with this role. But I defy anyone to refute the layers Cillian could have shown in the evolution of this catalogue-shopping crash investigator and his increasingly insane relationships. Plus we'd get to see him buffed up and stripped to the waist—tell me THAT'S not a good thing.
#1. Interview With the Vampire (1994), Armand
Imagine, if you will, a world in which Neil Jordan is introduced to Cillian Murphy a few years earlier. Right around the time he's casting for a hotly debated Anne Rice classic, in fact. He instantly recognises the young actor's presence and potential, but he's too young and inexperienced to carry a main character like Louis or Lestat. Somewhere in the conversation, Cillian mentions he can do a perfect French accent, and in this delightful parallel universe, Jordan has his youthful, pale, full-lipped Armand, and I have footage of Cillian as a vampire in my DVD collection instead of just in my head.
#5. Whistle Down the Wind (1961), The Prisoner
Both the film and the book are childhood favourites so I would love to see Cillian in the role of the prisoner. It’s another character that Cillian hasn’t played before: he starts off as a tough and solitary man but is slowly mellowed by the children who look after him.
#4. Prick Up Your Ears (1987), Joe Orton
Orton is very self-centred and extremely cocky, a much different character than Cillian has played before and I think he would pull it off with relish.
#3. Bunny Lake is Missing (1965, 2008), Stephen Lake
There is a remake of Bunny Lake is in the works and Cillian would be perfect as Stephen. There is a quiet creepiness to the character that brings Cillian to mind.
#2. Fear Strikes Out (1957), Jim Piersall
Anthony Perkins is mainly known for his role in Psycho, but I remember him for this performance. While Cillian has ably played disturbed characters before, in On the Edge and Disco Pigs, Piersall had a mental disorder and it would be interesting to see Cillian’s portrayal of the character unraveling.
#1. Prick Up Your Ears (1987), Kenneth Halliwell
It would take a lot to top Alfred Molina’s performance but I’m sure Cillian would be up for the challenge. The complete opposite of Joe Orton, Halliwell is insecure and vain but for me this was the better role as he’s a more complex character and he has the best lines. It’d be worth the price of admission to see Cillian deliver the "have a wank" speech.
Queen of the Imps's List
#5. Star Wars (the recent prequels), Anakin Skywalker
Cillian makes a fantastic villain, and he could have been the antihero that Hayden Christensen wasn't.
#4. Velvet Goldmine (1998), Brian Slade
Jonathan Rhys Meyers brought the sex, but Cillian could have given him more of a heart.
#3. Lost (TV series, 2004– ), Dr. Jack Shephard
Cillian's already played a doctor well, and he has the charisma to lead a bunch of crash survivors to battle against the Others. Besides, Lost already has British, Scottish, and Australian characters; they should add an Irish one to even out the mix!
#2. Harry Potter series (2004– ), Sirius Black
Gary Oldman was great as the wizard on the lam, but I think Cillian could have made him a bit more dark and brooding, which would especially come in handy in The Half-Blood Prince.
#1. The Crying Game (1992), Dil
We've already seen Cillian strut his stuff as a transvestite; he probably could have made the twist in The Crying Game even more shocking!
#5. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), Edmond Dantes
Cillian would be great here in place of Jim Caviezel (who was great), with the heroic and romantic role, plus in the scenes in the jail fortress, which require some complexity in the acting. There's sword fights too, and being athletic and naturally graceful, Cillian would perform magnificently in this multi-faceted role.
#4. Sophie's Choice (1982), Stingo
Cillian would be very believable as Stingo, the southern writer who befriends Nathan and Sophie, the troubled couple living above him in 1940s Brooklyn. His facility with American accents, his sensitivity, and expressive face would truly fill the bill, and he could hold his own opposite Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep, too.
#3. Catch Me If You Can (2002), Frank Abagnale Jr.
Cillian has said he likes four out of ever 100 scripts sent to him, and that two of those four go to Leonardo DiCaprio, who played this part as the great imposter who is chased for years by the FBI. Cillian would be totally believable as a PanAm pilot, doctor, and lawyer in the film, partly because of his great intelligence and enthusiasm in playing multi-faceted, complex characters. I think Cillian would also enjoy the comedic parts of this role as well.
#2. Gone With the Wind (1939), Ashley Wilkes
Cillian is great as a tortured soul, as we've seen in The Wind That Shakes The Barley. If there is ever a remake of Gone With the Wind, he could hold his own with any Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler out there, while still being the refined southern gentleman. If you think about it, Ashley, although a supporting role, is complex because he is passionate about Scarlett and Melanie, and very conflicted in these passions and what's happening around him in the changing South before, during, and after the Civil War. Cillian would not only be a strong Ashley, but probably more multi-dimensional than Leslie Howard was in this part. I'd like to see Cilly grow his beard out for this role too; it occurred to me looking at the Zoo Magazine spread that he would be believable as a young Abe Lincoln as well in the old Henry Fonda movie. The huge eyes and cheekbones are strikingly similar to the Great Emancipator.
#1. The Godfather (1972), Michael Corleone
Pacino is one of Cillian's idols, and again, Michael is one of those complex roles in which Cillian stretches all of his talents. We see Michael change from the refined, educated son of the Mafia don, who is destined to be a senator, and wants nothing to do with the "family business." But as the Corleone clan is threatened over the years, Michael metamorphises into a ruthless don himself, who routinely orders the murders of others. Sound familiar Cillian fans? Cillian showed himself more than capable of these changes in a character when he played Damien in Barley, changing from the mild doctor to the terrorist. Cillian could also do a strong Fredo, the simple-minded brother who is doomed by the manipulations of family enemies.
#5. Dangerous Liasons (1988), Valmont
Now, as I'm writing this list I can't help but notice that I just go CRAZY for the bad guys. Especially classy bad guys. And one of my favorites is Valmont. The ever seductive and dangerous Valmont just turns my insides into jello. If Cillian got to play him, I'd go crazy with lust. He would be so perfect to play him. In my dreams he does.
#4. Chicago (2002), Billy Flint
I just adore this character. His cynicism and charisma are just disarming, which is why I could definitely see Cillian portraying him. And of course, there's also the fact that I wanna see him singing and dancing on stage. I know our very talented man could pull that out. Who knows? Maybe one day it will happen in the theatre.
#3. Harry Potter series (2002–2010), Lord Voldemort
Now, while many have discussed the possibility of Cillian acting in the Harry Potter series, maybe as Sirius, or maybe as Voldemort's uncle or some other character, I think he could have played the Dark Lord himself, and made an unbelievably awesome performance. On the other hand, this is a role that actually could have gone to him, but maybe it shouldn't have. I know—I'm confusing things a little. It's just that Cillian could have been great as Voldemort, but maybe it's OK that he didn't do it, at least not so early in his career. If he had, he would be stuck as one of the ultimate baddies, typecast for good.
#2. Interview with The Vampire (1994), Lestat de Lioncourt
Another bad boy I will never see Cillian playing. Instead I had to see Tom Cruise: boring. I have to hand it to Neil Jordan though: he made as much as he could with the little he had. But Cilllian as Lestat would be just what I imagined Lestat looked like when I read the book. With those unearthly blue eyes of his, he wouldn't need the contact lenses that most actors use to portray vampires. And of course, Cillian's got more talent in his baby finger than Tom Cruise will ever have.
#1. Primal Fear (1996), Aaron Stampler
Being the versatile actor he is, Cillian would have done an awesome job with this character. Somehow Cillian Murphy's Jackson in Red Eye reminded me of Edward Norton's Aaron, both of them switching personas back and forth, and making it believable. I'd love to see Cillian using his eyes to switch from utter innocence to ultimate wickedness—the man is just a master at doing that.