Cillian Murphy: Thomas Shelby v The US Mafia in Peaky Blinders series 4!

Peaky Blinders without David Beckham!
(Image credit: Robert Viglasky)

Cillian Murphy talks about series 4 of The Peaky Blinders and how he's already signed up for series 5!

Cillian Murphy on the new series of Peaky Blinders which sees Thomas Shelby take on the US Mafia!

What’s the story?

The Peaky Blinders crime family face their most powerful enemy yet when the hard-hitting drama, set in 1920s Birmingham, returns for a fourth series on BBC2.

Gang leader Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) has received a declaration of war from the US Mafia and the arrival of the American gangsters comes at the worst possible time for Tommy, who is alone and vulnerable after the rest of his family were arrested at the end of the last series.

It’s Christmas 1925 when the new series opens and Tommy’s brothers John (Joe Cole) and Arthur (Paul Anderson), cousin Michael (Finn Cole) and Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) are due to be hanged at London’s Holloway Prison.

With Tommy’s enemies closing in, the Peaky Blinders boss knows he won’t be able to survive without his family, but even if he can save his loved ones from the gallows, reuniting them will be tricky.

Joining the cast for the new series are Oscar-winner Adrien Brody, Game of Thrones star Aidan Gillen and Happy Valley’s Charlie Murphy, while Taboo’s Tom Hardy returns as eccentric crime boss Alfie Solomons and Close to the Enemy’s Charlotte Riley once again plays Tommy’s one-time love May Carleton.

Cillian Murphy took a break from filming to tell TV&Satellite Week what’s in store in Peaky Blinders series four…

Where do we find Tommy Shelby as the fourth series opens?

Cillian Murphy: “He’s celebrating Christmas with his son Charlie in his massive mansion. He’s managed to keep his family alive for the time being, but after the way he betrayed them in the last series, they no longer trust him. As for Tommy, he’s gone back into himself and still carries the emotional scars over losing his wife, Grace. He’s also in denial about how much he needs his family, but that all changes when he receives a sinister message from the Mafia.”

The Peaky Blinders taking on the Mafia is quite a prospect, isn’t it?

CM: “Yes, it’s really stepping up a level in this series. The Shelbys are fighting for their lives because the Mafia is on a different level to anything they’ve faced before. They’re led by Luca Changretta, who’s played by Adrien Brody. He has arrived in Britain to avenge the death of his father, Vicente Changretta, whom Tommy and Arthur killed in the last series as revenge for Grace’s death.”

Adrien Brody won an Oscar for The Pianist. What does he bring to the role of Luca Changretta?

CM: “We’re so lucky to be able to attract actors of that calibre and the fact that he wants to be in it shows how popular the show is in America. Adrien has this incredible energy that we’ll get to see as the show progresses. Obviously, there’s going to be a showdown at some point. It’s funny because when I’m on other projects, lots of actors ask about the show and want to know what it’s like to make.”

Tommy gets through hundreds of cigarettes during the series. How do you manage it?

CM: “I don’t smoke, but they’re herbal things and not real cigarettes. I think someone worked out that I’d smoked more than 3000 since we started the show, but I only take one or two puffs before putting them out. Everyone smoked back then, so it would have been ridiculous for him not to."

The writer Steven Knight said he’d like to do a Peaky Blinders film and maybe even a musical. Would you be up for that ?

CM: “I’d certainly be interested in doing a film, but I’m not sure about the musical. That’s not for me, so I’ll have to pass on that one.”

How many years do you think Peaky Blinders could go on for?

CM: “It’s a privilege to get to play a character like Tommy Shelby and work with Steven Knight, who’s such a great writer. It’s just our job to do his scripts justice and I think we’d all continue as long as the story remains strong. We’re signed up for a fifth series next year and after that, who knows?”

The series has some pretty ardent fans and a few have gone as far as getting a Tommy Shelby tattoo. What do you make of that?

CM: “People have shown me the pictures, it’s quite alarming. It’s a big step to take – maybe just buy the box set instead!”

Peaky Blinders returns on Wednesday 15th November on BBC2 at 9pm.

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years working for TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer for TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!