Cillian Murphy loves what he does. It’s exhilarating to hear him talk about it - Radio Review

Barry John, the late Wales rugby great, was brilliant but didn’t love the ‘circus’

Cillian Murphy is a contender for best actor
Cillian Murphy isn't only a wonderful actor, he also passionately loves what he does (Ian West/PA)
Desert Island Discs - BBC Radio 4
Last Word - BBC Radio 4

Actor Cillian Murphy is self effacing in the light of his Oscar nomination for Oppenheimer.

It’s clear that awards and ceremonies are not really his bag – but his passion for acting is never in question.

It’s the nuances of the character, getting that across on the big screen that mattered for Oppenheimer, he said in this Desert Island Discs.

Peaky Blinders and his role as Thomas Shelby brought him to a wide audience… such an angelic face; such a dark twist.

Music was his first love growing up in Cork – the band he had with his brothers was offered a record deal – but his parents were not happy as they were so young.

And then he found acting.

Early in his career he starred in Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

Loach worked in a particular way, he said. You didn’t get the script ahead of time and events unfolded.

His character was close to a boy actor in the film – there was a bond.

And then he came in one morning to find that the boy was a betrayer and, in the drama, he would have to kill him that day.

The devastation that he felt was so real, he said, that it brought so much more to the performance than if he had known in advance.

That is the wonder of Loach.

The musical choices were wonderful and quintessentially Irish – from Séamus Ennis’s The Wandering Minstrel to Lisa O’Neill’s If I Was A Painter.

John won 25 Wales caps between 1966 and 1972
Barry John lit up rugby fields until his retirement at the early age of 27 (PA/PA)

Last Word featured an obituary for Welsh rugby player Barry John known simply as “the king”. He died aged 79.

Like George Best, he had mythical status in an international career that spanned just six years. Like Best, he also had his demons.

Last Word described how Barry John ended his career abruptly at the age of 27, when the “circus act” of fame proved too much.

When a woman curtseyed to him on the street, he felt very uncomfortable.

When an older lady stopped him and offered him her life savings to go back to the pitch because that was all she had to look forward to on a Saturday, he declined.

From a passionate actor to a passionate rugby player – hearing someone talk about intensely loving what they do is exhilarating.

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