“Remember, I’m an actor”: Peaky Blinders Almost Chose Jason Statham as Tommy Shelby – So Cillian Murphy Got Creative

Jason Statham was nearly Thomas Shelby before Cillian Murphy's text turned the tables.

Peaky Blinders Almost Chose Jason Statham as Tommy Shelby – So Cillian Murphy Got Creative


  • Cillian Murphy was not the first choice for Thomas Shelby in Peaky Blinders as he was not as physically fitting for the part.
  • Director Steven Knight was leaning towards wanting Jason Statham to play the part instead.
  • Murphy then texted the director stating that he was an actor and could transform himself into his character.
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Peaky Blinders is a show when one thinks about will always have Cillian Murphy popping up in their mind, however, it would be odd to think of Jason Statham in that position instead. The series has an iconic stance and Cillian Murphy’s fame only increases from then on. To have another actor take his place might be a peculiar thought, seeing just how well the Oppenheimer star fits in that role.

Jason Statham
Jason Statham

Thomas Shelby and Murphy go hand in hand. Having someone else take up that position might be an odd thought for the fans, but it almost became a reality. Ironically so, considering that the Batman Begins star was not even the first choice for the role. It was instead, Statham.

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Jason Statham Was First in Line to Play Thomas Shelby

When the question of who would take over the role of Thomas Shelby came into play, director Steven Knight had two actors in his mind. On one hand, he saw Jason Statham and on the other, he saw Cillian Murphy. In an interview with the Guardian, the actor addressed how he was not the first choice.

Jason Statham in The Meg (2018)
Jason Statham in The Meg (2018)

“There was a bit of convincing needed,” Murphy added. “Initially, there may have been some doubts about whether I had the requisite physicality, which I understand. I’m not the most physically imposing individual.”

Murphy admitted that there had been doubts about how well he could play the role because he did not exactly look the part physically. To be someone as intimidating as Thomas Shelby, Knight thought that Statham was a better fit for the role than the Oppenheimer star. The director found himself entranced by the Transporter star and decided that it would be best to take them both out one day to make the picture clearer for himself and the two actors sitting in front of him. However, it was one text that managed to change everything.

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Cillian Murphy Got Creative with His Approach

When addressing the situation of how Steven Knight came to a decision, he admitted that it was difficult to picture Cillian Murphy as Thomas Shelby. Although he admitted that he let his own prejudice take over. Talking to Esquire, Knight revealed that a text changed his perspective completely.

Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders
Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

“Cillian, when you meet him, isn’t Tommy, obviously, but I was stupid enough not to understand that. He sent me a text [later] saying, ‘Remember, I’m an actor,’ which is absolutely the thing, because he can transform himself.”

Murphy sent the director a text that hinted at how it was not exactly fair for him to lose the part just because he did not act like Thomas Shelby all the time. He shed light on how he was an actor and could transform into his character without any issue.

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Adya Godboley

Written by Adya Godboley

Articles Published: 1480

An avid writer fluent in everything Marvel, Adya Godboley went from being a Senior Writer to an Assistant Anime Content Lead for FandomWire. She has rich experience in critically analyzing all that is said in between the lines. Hopelessly obsessed with Greek Mythology, she is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in English. Adya has written over 1400 articles on various topics expressing her passion and love for all things entertainment, from superheroes to anime and the occasional gacha games.