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Acting Extremes: Cillian Murphy Smoked A Total Of 1,000 Cigarettes In One Season Of Peaky Blinders

Actors have always been known to go to the extreme for a role, but how far is too far?

Athena LaTrelle / Flickr

Athena LaTrelle / Flickr

If you’re like me, the name Peaky Blinders doesn’t ring a bell. If anything, it sounds like a bad pop punk band I would’ve loved in middle school because they all had British accents. The real Peaky Blinders are much more intimidating, and the show is just as interesting. First, a quick background on the Peaky Blinders. 

The Peaky Blinders were a gang based in Birmingham, England during the end of the 19th century. England’s economic hardship at that time had led to some pretty angry youth. Not just “bleach your hair and wear black eyeliner” angry though. More like, “assults, beating, and manual strangulation of civilians,” kinda angry. Thusly, The Peaky Blinders, and many other gangs, were formed. 

A couple of members are missing essential bits of the uniform and you can tell Thomas is pissed. Terry Kearney / Flickr

Like any good gang, they needed a snazzy uniform! Matching is essential to organized crime. So every memeber of The Peaky Blinders had to wear a nice sports coat and flat brimmed hat, thusly where they got the name Peaky Blinders. “Peaky,” was popular sland for a flat brimmed hat at the time, and “blinder,” is still used as slang for someone looking particularily dapper. Also, jk, they all dressed fancily in an attempt at a satirical jab at the upper class. Enough history, though. Onto the reason why this guy had to smoke so much. 

Cillian Murphy plays the leading role in the hit British television show, Peaky Blinders, and because he’s the gangs leader, and it’s the late 19th century, he is almost always pictured with a cigarette in hand. So, it makes sense that he ended up smoking a whopping 1000 cigarettes within filming one season of the show. As Jake Massey mentions in his article on Ladbible, Murphy is rarely seen without a glass of whiskey as well, but as we all know, none of these props are real. 

Image by Tofoli.douglas / Flickr

“No actors were killed in the making of Peaky Blinders. We don’t inhale.” quipped actress Helen Mcrory, who plays Aunt Polly, to Birmingham Live. But this got me thinking. Even though the cigarettes are fake, even though they don’t inhale, it must be doing some damage, right? I mean, pretty much anything in excess isn’t great for you. Plus, I tried smoking tea leaves in middle school and let me tell you, it does not feel good. And isn’t there that saying, “If it’s in the house, it’s in the children,”? I feel like if 1000 cigarettes’ worth of puffs are in your mouth, just a lil’ had to have snuck its way into your lungs. This got me thinking, how far, even if it’s fake, is too far? 

Immediately, I thought of Jonah Hill. If you didn’t already know, Jonah Hill was hospitalized after snorting tons of fake cocaine in the movie Wolf of Wall Street. You can read more about it in this article by Heather Saul on Independent.  He told Any Given Wednesday host Bill Simmons, “If you ingest that much matter into your lungs you’ll get very sick, and we were literally doing fake coke for, like, seven months, every day.” The fake cocaine was vitamin D powder. People can benefit from taking vitamin D, (I know I do during Portland’s grey-ass winter) but nobody beenfits from it in that amount! Why couldn’t filming have been spread out over a longer period time? Why did sweet baby Jonah Hill have to get severe bronchiatis? Because he’s an actor and “signed up” for the movie? I think that’s some bull. 

Jonah deserves more recognition: From SceneScreen on Youtube

I think my point is, while it sounds like a really cool feat to have smoked 1000 cigarettes, it’s not cool to hurt your body. I’m not saying that Peaky Blinders mistreats their actors, not even a little bit, but I think it’s important to recognize what actors will do and must do for certain roles. That being said, if you want to see the new season of Peaky Blinders, it’s still “coming soon,” with no clear date set. However, there’s a new trailer and the sheer drama of it has encouraged me to binge the rest of the series on Netflix. If not that, I’ll be checking out the style festival ASAP. What can I say? I’m a sucker for angst, accents and dapper coats. 

Look at those snazzy outfits, govna: From BBC on Youtube
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