Cillian Murphy’s old teacher reveals what he was like at school

Cillian Murphy‘s old teacher has opened up about what the actor was like at school.

The star won the Oscar for Best Actor last week for his work in Oppenheimer, having gotten his first shot at acting in his home city of Cork, Ireland.

Pat Kiernan taught drama at the school that Murphy attended, and said that while he didn’t initially recognise his acting talent, he was taken by how seriously Murphy took his band Sons of Mister Green Geneshe. He also used to see the star around town, with Murphy later taking an interest in his theatre company Corcadorca.


“He’d say, ‘Man, it’s great what you’re doing, I’d love to be involved,’” he recalled to The Times.

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Recalling the now-Oscar-winner being inspired by a production of A Clockwork Orange that they put on, Kiernan revealed: “It was a really exciting piece of theatre and Cillian has told me [in later years] that it blew his mind and made him want to be an actor.”

He ended up casting Murphy in 1996 play Disco Pigs after he’d finished school, though was initially hesitant, admitting: “I said to [playwright] Enda [Walsh], ‘There’s a young guy who seems really keen and I think he might be good in the part.’ But I said, ‘He’s a bit of a pig,’ meaning he’s kind of goofy-looking. Clearly I didn’t recognise the beauty of the man.”

He added: “Cillian is really smart. Even at that age he was really clever and capable of inhabiting a character. What’s more, it was clear early on just how hard-working he was.

“Even back then, he was practical in his approach to work. He believed it needed to be researched, thought about, and he needed time to construct what he was doing. He seems to be applying all of this still.”


Speaking about his pride in seeing Murphy win an Academy Award, Kiernan revealed: “I was talking to him a few times during the week and he said: ‘I blame you.’”

Cillian Murphy wins Best Actor
Cillian Murphy accepts the Lead Actor award for “Oppenheimer” onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024 in Hollywood, California. CREDIT: Getty/Kevin Winter

He continued: “It’s a remarkable achievement for him. He has followed his own way of working and it has got him to where he is today.”

Kiernan also noted that fame hasn’t gone to Murphy’s head: “Even listening to his Oscar speech the other night, I wouldn’t notice any difference to how he was 20 or 30 years ago. He’s just the same lovely guy.”

During his Oscars acceptance speech, Murphy said he was “a very proud Irishman”, before reflecting on Oppenheimer‘s themes.

“We made a film about the man who created the atomic bomb and, for better or worse, we’re all living in Oppenheimer’s world,” he said. “So I’d really like to dedicate this to the peacemakers everywhere.”

As well as Best Actor, Oppenheimer took a further six awards during the night including Best Picture and Best Director for Christopher Nolan.

Meanwhile, Murphy recently said he would be open to returning to the role of Tommy Shelby in a Peaky Blinders film.