Cillian Murphy wins Ireland’s first ever Leading Actor Bafta for Oppenheimer

Cork actor won the Bafta at Sunday’s star-studded ceremony in London

Cillian Murphy with his Bafta award for Leading actor. PICTURE: IAN WEST/PA
Cillian Murphy with his Bafta award for Leading actor. PICTURE: IAN WEST/PA

Cillian Murphy has made history at the 2024 Bafta Awards by becoming the first Irish-born performer to win the Leading Actor category at the ceremony.

The Co Cork star was named Best Actor at Sunday’s Bafta ceremony in London for his role in Oppenheimer, which won a string of awards including Best Film and Best Director for Christopher Nolan.

Murphy was joined in the Leading Actor category by fellow Irish star Barry Keoghan, who had been nominated for his role in Saltburn, by director Emerald Fennell.

Barry Keoghan in Saltburn. PICTURE: PRIME VIDEO
Barry Keoghan in Saltburn. PICTURE: PRIME VIDEO

Collecting his award, Murphy thanked Nolan, who won his first ever Bafta, along with Oppenheimer producer Emma Thomas, the London-born director’s wife.

“Thanks for seeing something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” he said.

Murphy has also been nominated for Best Actor at next month’s Oscars for his role as J. Robert Oppenheimer. The film tells the story of the New York physicist’s role in developing the first atomic bomb while director of the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, New Mexico, during World War Two.

Oppenheimer’s Robert Downey Jr won the Supporting Actor Bafta, while the film also won Baftas for Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Original Score.

Speaking while collecting the Best Film Award Bafta, Ms Thompson said her husband was “inspired and inspiring”, adding: “He is brilliant, often infuriating, he is always right.

“I am incredibly grateful to him for letting me come along for this ride.”

Speaking backstage after collecting his Bafta, Cillian Murphy he said he was a “really, really proud Irishman”.

“I have to say that, of course. And it means a lot to me to be Irish,” he said.

“I don’t know what else to say. Should I sing a rebel song?”

Meanwhile, another Irish hopeful at Sunday’s ceremony at the BAFTA 195 Piccadilly venue was Co Kildare star Paul Mescal, who was nominated in the Supporting Actor category for his role in director Andrew Haigh’s All of us Strangers.

Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal
Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal at Sunday's Bafta ceremony. PICTURE: IAN WEST/PA (Ian West/PA)

He missed out to Robert Downey Jr, but the actor, who will appear in the sequel to Ridley Scott’s Gladiator later this year, spoke of his excitement about mingling with stars including David Beckham on the event’s red carpet.

Another big film to clinch wins was Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things, which won five gongs including Leading Actress for Emma Stone.