Cillian Murphy and wife of 19 years live in Dublin with their two kids

The real Cillian Murphy: Irish actor who came from a family of teachers turned down a record deal aged 18, studied law at university and ditched London for Dublin with his wife of 19 years because their two teen kids ‘had very posh English accents’

  • READ MORE: Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer wins over critics as film is hailed as ‘spectacular achievement’ following its premiere in Paris

He’s known around the world for his roles in Peaky Blinders, Dunkirk and now Christopher Nolan’s highly praised Oppenheimer.

Yet Cillian Murphy, 47, is famously private – offering only a sliver of detail about himself throughout his years in the spotlight.

So just what do we know about the Irish star? Here, FEMAIL delves into the father-of-two’s home life, early career and family as we take a look at the insights Cillian has shared with his fans.

The Tommy Shelby actor was born in Cork in 1976 to a mother who taught French, while his father, Brendan, worked as a schools inspector before moving to the Department of Education. His grandfather, aunts and uncles were also teachers.

But not wanting to follow the family tradition of working in education, Cillian pursued a career in the arts after getting a ‘huge high’ from his drama module at Catholic secondary school Presentation Brothers College.

Cillian Murphy, 47, pictured with his wife Irish artist Yvonne McGuinness in 2016 in New York City

However, his first performing love turned out not to be acting – instead he turned his talents toward music.

Cillian and his The Sons of Mr. Green Genes bandmates, which included his brother, were even offered a five-album record deal.

However, they were forced to turn down the opportunity by his parents, with the actor explaining: ‘My brother was still in school. I was 18 and he was 16, the idea of losing two of us was just too outrageous and horrifying for them so it didn’t happen and then everything just kind of fell apart. 

‘In retrospect, the music industry is just terrible. Unless you’re super successful it’s really hard to make a living. We’d have crashed and burned pretty quickly in that industry,’ Cillian told the Armchair Expert podcast, via The Irish Examiner. 

The Corkman went on to study law at University College Cork before he dropped out in an effort to break out into the world of acting

But recalling the moment he told his parents of his decision, he said: ‘It wasn’t a happy moment in our family history’, reported The

Cillian also discussed his ‘pretty average upbringing’ in a video with Vice, saying: ‘I grew up in Cork, my parents are teachers. 

‘Pretty average, middle-class upbringing, you know? They were, I think, probably anxious that I did well at school and went to college, did all that stuff.

The couple have two children together, Malachy, 17, and Aran, 16. Pictured, the family in 2014

Cillian and his family now live in Dublin after he reportedly splashed out close to £1.7million on a Victorian townhouse (pictured before its sale)

The Tommy Shelby actor (pictured in May 2023) was born in Cork in 1976 to a mother who taught French, while his father, Brendan, worked as a schools inspector before moving to the Department of Education. His grandfather, aunts and uncles were also teachers 

‘I foolishly decided to pursue a law degree. But I was playing music. I was playing in a band, and I just started acting then. 

‘Those two things were happening and they became much more important than going to college. I didn’t really go in at all, and I failed gloriously in the first year.’

But he soon found success as an actor, appearing in late 90s Irish film Disco Pigs and Danny Boyle’s violent horror 28 Days Later in 2002. 

He’s also known for his appearance in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy as the villainous Dr Jonathan Crane and his alter-ego Scarecrow. 

Most famously, he played Birmingham gang boss Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders for six seasons from 2013 to 2022 – but said he couldn’t have stuck to the work schedule without his ‘amazing wife’.

He married Irish artist Yvonne McGuinness in 2004, after the pair first met at one of his rock band’s shows in 1996. They went on to have two children together, Malachy, 17, and Aran, 16. 

Cillian told GQ of his work schedule: ‘I couldn’t do this without [my wife] and her understanding. But it is a struggle. 

He’s known around the world for his roles in Peaky Blinders , Dunkirk and now Christopher Nolan’s highly praised Oppenheimer (pictured)

The cast of Oppenheimer at a photo call in Trafalgar Square, central London on Wednesday. Left to right: Robert Downey Jr, Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Florence Pugh and Matt Damon

‘I think it is for any dad whose work takes him away, which it generally does, and which consumes him, which my work does.’

He added: ‘I make sure that I try not to go from job to job to job, because that means you live in a bubble of set, hotel, set, hotel, plane, film festivals – which, to me, is not reality. So I just check out from that for six months a year.’

Cillian and his family now live in Dublin after he reportedly splashed out close to £1.7million on a Victorian townhouse. 

The four-storey home, originally built in 1863, is located in Monkstown, south Co. Dublin, and has six double bedrooms as well as four receptions rooms.

However while the family are now based in Dublin, his sons were born in London and stayed there until 2015 before they all moved to Ireland, with the actor joking they moved because his sons were developing ‘very posh English accents’.

‘We were in London for 14 years, both our kids were born there. We only came back to Dublin in 2015,’ he told the Armchair Expert podcast.

‘It’s kind of an Irish story, you know, to move away, do your thing and then come home. That seems to be a common narrative for Irish people. 

‘We wanted the kids to be Irish, and they were sort of at that age where they were preteens and they had very posh English accents and I wasn’t appreciating that too much. Our parents are a certain age and it was just a nice time to come home.’

The 5ft7 star also noted that his sons were almost taller than him. 

It also seems he won’t be following in the footsteps of the acting elite, claiming he ‘couldn’t envisage’ upping sticks to Los Angeles.

Cillian said: ‘I love visiting and I love the food and I do love the weather. I don’t know, I just feel European, I just feel Irish. I’d feel like a bit of an interloper if I lived in California, I couldn’t envisage living there permanently.’

Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer: What do the critics think?

The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin

‘Am torn between being all coy and mysterious about Oppenheimer and just coming out and saying it’s a total knockout’

Vulture movie critic Bilge Ebiri

‘OPPENHEIMER is… incredible. A relentlessly paced, insanely detailed, intricate historical drama that builds and builds and builds until Nolan brings the hammer down in the most astonishing, shattering way.’

Jonathan Dean of The Sunday Times

‘Totally absorbed in OPPENHEIMER. An audacious, inventive, complex film to rattle its audience.’

The Associated Press’ film writer Lindsey Bahr

‘It is truly a spectacular achievement, in its truthful, concise adaptation, inventive storytelling and nuanced performances from Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon and the many others involved.’

Matt Maytum of Total Film

‘An epic historical drama but with a distinctly Nolan sensibility: the tension, structure, sense of scale, startling sound design, remarkable visuals. Wow.’

Elsa Keslassy of Variety

‘A sign that French audiences loved #Oppenheimer is that they stayed in front of the Grand Rex theater long after the film ended to debate about it!’

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