Ahead of the new series of Peaky Blinders on Wednesday November 15, we spoke to Charlie Murphy about binge-watching, working alongside Cillian Murphy and what to expect from season four.
How did you first get into acting?
I’m from a place called Wexford, in South East Ireland. I would have grown up in the countryside, but we moved into town when I was an early teen, where I lived across the road from the local theatre. Because of the opera festivals and fringe events that happened nearby, I grew up auditioning for those kind of things.
I did a lot of musical theatre in my early teens and it was at my local youth theatre that I was introduced to the likes of Sarah Kane, Mark Ravenhill and Mark O’Rowe – all incredible writers. My mind was just totally blown by their work and I felt like I really wanted to tell those stories. When I came out of college, I worked for a year, ended up writing my own plays and performing them, and eventually, I started getting work.
Were you a fan of Peaky Blinders beforehand?
I hadn’t actually watched it, but Peaky Blinders was firmly on the list of things I wanted to watch. Before my audition, I started watching a couple of episodes for guidelines on the accent because I’d never tackled the Birmingham accent before, and after binge-watching about three episodes I just got completely sucked into it. I had to make myself stop because I thought to myself ‘if I watch any more of this, I’m just going to fall in love with it and then I’ll be really nervous’.
After my audition, I totally binge-watched it and became a huge fan – I think it’s so brilliant.
Can you tell us about your character?
I play a character called Jessie Eden and she’s based on a real person. It was so much fun to research her life and also to see how Steven (Knight) – the show’s creator – was going to marry fact and fiction – he’s done it so beautifully. Jessie was a member of the Communist party in real life, and in her 20’s she brought 10,000 women out on strike for equal pay in Birmingham. This is such a phenomenal thing, and yet history has somehow forgotten her.
She did all these amazing things, and then she was shipped off to Russia by the Communist party to help build the metro system. But, she was actually mentioned in series three, which is a lovely nod to something that Steven had planned.
In the show, Jessie’s a hurdle that Tommy has to get over because she has the power of the people behind her.
How hard was it to master the Brummie accent?
The Birmingham accent is an anomaly when you hear it first and it was a little bit daunting. Hearing it and doing it is a very different thing!
What was it like working alongside Cillian Murphy?
Cillian is fantastic and I know him primarily through the theatre world in Ireland because we’ve worked a lot with the same writer and director, Enda Walsh. He’s just an incredible actor, so working with him was a pleasure and a joy – he’s brilliant.
What can we expect from Peaky Blinders Season 4?
Steven is an incredible writer and as an audience member, I was just hooked on the show from the beginning. He has a brilliant way of throwing you in quickly, and when I was reading the script for the first time, every page brought a surprise and I just hope that we’ve achieved that.