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Cillian Murphy: Oscar win makes Oppenheimer star a Hollywood heavyweight

After gaining fame battling zombies in “28 Days Later” and portraying a ruthless gang leader in “Peaky Blinders,” Cillian Murphy has now established himself as a heavyweight in Hollywood, winning his first Oscar for his portrayal of J. Robert Oppenheimer in “Oppenheimer.”

Known for his serious reputation and talent, it was refreshing to see Murphy’s first reaction upon accepting the best actor statuette was a joyful laugh, a departure from his usual reserved demeanor. Winning an Oscar held significant meaning for him, despite being the frontrunner throughout awards season. Declaring himself “a very proud Irishman,” Murphy became the first Irish-born star to win best actor at the Oscars. He dedicated his award to “the peacemakers everywhere,” a poignant acknowledgment given Oppenheimer’s role in developing the atomic bomb.

Although Oppenheimer’s character was controversial, Murphy’s dedication prompted reflection on the film’s message, as pointed out by ITV’s Oscars night host Jonathan Ross. Ross noted the film’s portrayal of Oppenheimer and its implications on the world, suggesting that it may have been too lenient on the character’s actions.

Born in the suburbs of Cork in 1976, Murphy’s interest in acting blossomed during secondary school, where he participated in a drama module. Despite initially pursuing music, playing guitar in various rock bands with his brother Páidi, Murphy’s passion for acting led him to make it his career focus. While studying law at University College Cork, Murphy’s dedication to acting led him to fail his first-year exams. He made his professional debut in theater in 1996, followed by roles in notable films such as Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later,” Ken Loach’s “The Wind That Shakes The Barley,” and Boyle’s “Sunshine.”

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