About Features Reviews Community Screenings Archives Studios Home
November 2005
BREAKFAST ON PLUTO : An Interview with Cillian Murphy

BREAKFAST ON PLUTO: An Interview with Cillian Murphy

By Wilson Morales

After recently playing two ruthless characters on screen (BATMAN BEGINS, RED EYE) this year, Cillian Murphy is going back to his roots and making a film with acclaimed director and fellow Irishman, Neil Jordan. A far cry from both of those films, Murphy will be playing a cross-dresser in “Breakfast on Pluto. As foster kid Patrick "Kitten" Brady (Murphy) grows up, he leaves behind his small-town life in Ireland for London, where he's reborn as a transvestite cabaret singer in the 1960s and 70s. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Murphy goes over his role and working with Director Neil Jordan.


What was it that inspired you to take on this role?

Cillian Murphy: I had read the book before I was ever an actor. I think actors talk about the role of the lifetime and I would very happily say that applied to this role. Neil Jordan is one of my favorite directors. Not just because he's Irish and I'm Irish. In the world of directors he's one of those guys. So it was all of those things and also the fear that I couldn't possibly do that. If you come to a character and say 'yeah I can do this' then you're in trouble.

Did you spend a lot of time practicing to get the voice of the character right?

CM: I wanted to approach it very earlier on, like Neil said to me, to treat my self like a lady. My wife was very supportive of that. Then I wanted the character to be feminine as opposed to effeminate. Because it's easy to be camp or queen. Anyone can do that. What's difficult is to play feminine.

What else did you do psychologically to get into the character?

CM: You watch women. I spent time at a transvestites club in London and hung out there. I spent a lot of time on my own just being the character.

Did you have any experiences with men coming up to you and thinking that you're female?

CM: No because its not the crying game. That character is never trying to convince people that she is a she. It's just the way she is. But what you do learn from being with transvestites in London is their acerbic whit is a direct result of people shouting at you on the street. I had that all the time. You have people shouting at you all the time. That's why they're so amazing and so protective.

Is that part of your process to develop characters is to experience what they experience?

CM: If you read the character and you see that it’s just a slight adjustment to who you are, that doesn't represent a challenge to me. It's obvious that if your going to play a character you need to amass information about that person and about their environment or their era that they're in and use as little or as much as necessary. That seems obvious to me. What we do as actors is we go through phases where you superficially learn all this information. At the moment I'm doing this space movie, so I'm obsessed with physics and space travel. I know three months down the line it's gone. Then ill be able to superficially say stuff about space.

When you were doing this character did you stay in character a lot off camera?

CM: I find it quite hard talking about that whole method thing. In retrospective I can see how a character affects me. There was a lot of parting and craziness. My wife can see always how a part affects me personally because she has to live with it. But it’s not a conscious thing I don't walk around doing that some actors do that and that's fine. You're with the character every day. It's work bed work bed. There's not that much extra time. You are the character.

How long was the shoot?

CM: Twelve weeks.

What was the genesis of Neil approaching you to do this?

CM: He saw me in some movie and I went to see him and I was so overwhelmed. He produced this film called Intermission. So I had established a relationship with him. The thing about being old, the character has to be 16. The best roles you have to fight for. You have to really want to do it and you have to go after it.

Do you have an overall game plan to your career choices?

CM: I don't think about those things. If it happens it happens. All these projects that represent the challenges there all have been amazing directors I think. Some have succeeded and some haven't. But no it's not like checking boxes and saying 'if I do this that will allow me to do this.'

How did you do such a great job on making your character in Red Eye be so hated?

CM: Well that's the purpose of him in the movie is to be Fucking hated.

Would you have done Batman if it wasn't someone doing it like Christopher Nolan?

CM: No I wouldn't have done them. I wouldn't have done them if the script wasn't good. If you give e mediocre script to Chris Nolan or Neil Jordan, they're never going to make it a masterpiece unless the script is good.

How did this year compare to the breakthrough of 28 days later?

CM: It’s very hard to have a perception on oneself. When these movies came out I was working so I escaped a lot of it. So you're not involved in it. Batman was Christian Bale's movie. I was only in that movie.

Did you read for Batman?

CM: Come on. Do I look like a Fucking Batman?

In this movie, did you get to hear the 60's music and make it apart of your understanding about the character?

CM: Kitten becomes obsessed with the saccharine, less intellectually challenging music. There was a lot of that music made in the late 60's and early 70's. She identifies with Sugar Baby Love. Which is great because she attaches so much important to these tunes. So we listened to these songs all the time. It's an immersion of that time. You have to do that. The 70's everyone was fucking with sexuality. They were all these androgynous things. The clothes were flattering to men as well as women. There were great clothes.

In the movie, what turned out to be your favorite music?

CM: When Van Morrison comes on it just knocked me. I'm just reading his biography now.

Do you have a favorite concert you went to?

CM: I saw Al Green. He's incredible.

Are you amazed with what women go through to look beautiful?

CM: I have a deepening respect for women. It's a lot of pain. The plucking of the eyebrows is the worst. It gets better. The first time is hard. But I liked looking pretty. I looked like my sister and she’s a very pretty girl.

Kitten's motto is that everything is too serious. Is that what's fascinating about the project is that she doesn't want to be serious yet she's contrast to the most serious things in these decades that she's in?

CM: I think she's very astute and very smart but knows exactly what's going on. She just pretends. It's a defense mechanism to pretend all this stuff isn't happening.

How do you feel about being apart of the small Irish artistic community?

CM: It’s amazing. These guys affected me hugely growing up. They changed my approach to life. Iv worked a couple of times with these guys and they've paved the way and they've all been tremendously supportive to me. Particularly Liam Neeson. He's sort of a surrogate movie dad to me.

How is it working with Danny Boyle on this bigger budget film?

CM: I'm right in the middle of it. I have a weekend off. It's great. He's totally on fire.

Is it good working with him a second time?

CM: Working with these actors again there's ease. That's why I think people collaborate and people return to work with the same people. If you worked and gone on and there s a level of success why not work again together.

Is there a director you'd like to work with?

CM: Oh there's too many but I couldn't. There's no point.

Is there an ideal role you'd love to play?

CM: I don't think they'd ever make a movie about Chuck Baker but I'd love to play Chuck Baker. If there was an interesting story. I'd love to work with Robert Altman. There's so many.

You started working right after you got married, did you have time to go on a honeymoon?

CM: No. I made Breakfast on Pluto and then Red Eye.

How was your wife with that?

CM: She's fine she knows me from before I was an actor.

Did she influence you in any way to be Kitten.

CM: She's fine she knows me from before I was an actor.

How was your wife with that?

CM: She's fine she knows me from before I was an actor.



Terms of Use | Privacy Policy