Cillian Murphy doesn’t have a phone, email or computer & he hates talk shows

Cillian Murphy doesn’t like the fame part of being an actor. He moved his family out of London when his children started speaking with British accents, and the family moved back to Ireland. Apparently, Cillian lives a completely normal life there with his family, with no fame trappings and, according to this Guardian piece, no cell phone or email. People practically have to send him a carrier pigeon to get in touch with him or cast him in a movie. Cillian chatted about all of that and more with the Guardian and he absolutely comes across as rather an odd bird, but also just… not engaged with the hustle and bustle of modernity. Some highlights:

Whether he’s pleased with Oppenheimer. “I am, yeah. I don’t like watching myself – it’s like, ‘Oh, f–king hell’ – but it’s an extraordinary piece of work. Very provocative and powerful. It feels sometimes like a biopic, sometimes like a thriller, sometimes like a horror. It’s going to knock people out. What [Nolan] does with film, it f–ks you up a little bit.”

No email, computer or phone: It was Nolan’s wife, the producer Emma Thomas, who called Murphy one afternoon at the home he shares with his wife, artist Yvonne McGuinness, and two teenage sons. Nolan doesn’t actually have a telephone, or an email, or computer for that matter: “He’s the most analogue individual you could possibly encounter.”

He tested himself to see how little he could eat on ‘Oppenheimer’. “You become competitive with yourself a little bit which is not healthy. I don’t advise it.” He won’t say how many kilograms he lost, or what food the nutritionist told him to cut out. NDA? “Ach, no. I don’t want it to be, ‘Cillian lost x weight for the part’.”

Nolan filmed quickly, which helped Cillian lose weight & grow a sickly demeanor: “It’s like you’re on this f–king train that’s just bombing. It’s bang, bang, bang, bang. You sleep for a few hours, get up, bang it again. I was running on crazy energy; I went over a threshold to where I was not worrying about food or anything… But it was good because the character was like that. He never ate.” Oppenheimer subsisted on little more than Chesterfield cigarettes and double-strength martinis, rims dipped in lime. “Cigarettes and pipes. He would alternate between the two. That’s what did for him in the end,” Murphy adds, a nod to the scientist’s death from cancer in 1967. “I’ve smoked so many fake cigarettes for Peaky and this. My next character will not be a smoker. They can’t be good for you. Even herbal cigarettes have health warnings now.”

But he’s not a method actor: “Method acting is a sort of … No,” he says, firm but with a half smile. Oppenheimer had many defining characteristics, not least walking on the balls of his feet and a vocal tic that sounded like nim-nim-nim, but Murphy didn’t want to do an impression. “He was dancing between the raindrops morally. He was complex, contradictory, polymathic; incredibly attractive intellectually and charismatic, but ultimately unknowable.”

He hates doing talk shows: “I do them because you’re contractually obliged to. I just endure them. I’ve always found it difficult. I’ve said this so many, many times….I want to just caveat this by saying, I’m so privileged. I’m so happy to be doing what I love. I’m really lucky. But I don’t enjoy the personality side of being an actor. I don’t understand why I should be entertaining and scintillating on a talkshow. I don’t know why all of a sudden that’s expected of me. Why?” I say that he reminds me of Naomi Osaka, the tennis player who refused to talk to journalists after the French Open in 2021. He says he feels “100%” sympathy with her, “because why should she have to perform?” Then he relents. “But I get it. I get it’s a kind of ecosystem where the film feeds the publicity which feeds the talkshows which goes back and feeds the film, so, like, that’s how it works. I suppose I’m just not good at it. At interviews, at this stuff… Do you know what Sam Beckett said? ‘I have no views to inter.’ I love that. That should be the interview.”

Dinner with scientific geniuses: “I had dinner with all these geniuses. I’ll never understand quantum mechanics, but I was interested in what science does to their perspective.” He sought their opinions on subjects that matter – love, politics, our place in the universe, “infinity, or whatever the f–k. Because they have a completely different way of taking in information than we do. I remember one scientist saying, ‘I don’t believe in love. It’s a biological phenomenon, the exchange of hormones between the female and the male. That’s all. Love is a nonsense.’ I couldn’t go along with that, obviously.”

[From The Guardian]

Is Cillian going on Graham Norton or something? I need to know his talk show schedule so I can watch his visible discomfort. The American talk show hosts are going to eat him alive. Maybe he’ll enjoy Stephen Colbert? But the morning shows… yeesh, it won’t be pretty. I also didn’t realize that he lost weight for the role because he was trying to mimic Oppenheimer’s physique. And all of the smoking and drinking – people today don’t realize that basically everyone – scientists, doctors, actors, ad men, housewives – were all day-drunk chain-smokers all the time and that’s just how it was. That was the normal culture, everyone was drunk all the time and you could smoke everywhere.

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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42 Responses to “Cillian Murphy doesn’t have a phone, email or computer & he hates talk shows”

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  1. Valentina says:

    I might be misreading the article but I think it says that it’s Christopher Nolan that doesn’t have a mobile phone or email.

    • GOBO says:

      This is how I read it too. Also, i don’t know how you’d parent these days without a mobile phone and email. I’m pretty sure a huge amount of school type stuff is managed this way and he has teens.

    • Slush says:

      I believe you are correct also.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Whoever doesn’t have the phone is relying on the people around him to do for him what he won’t do for himself; ditto the no email (although I realize more & more of us don’t use email for basic communication). Pre-cell phone days, it would be the equivalent of people proudly proclaiming they don’t wear a watch, as though time were of no importance to them, yet always asking others for the time.

      • GOBO says:

        I would imagine Nolan has a staffed office, with a phone and company email addresses. The lack of personal email/mobile may be a way of establishing a work/life balance and seperation the is uncommon in the industry.

  2. Procrastinator says:

    The article says that Nolan doesn’t have phone, etc, not Murphy.

    • Shells_Bells says:

      Yeah, the title is not true at all. I read the article twice to see what I was missing. The quote referenced is definitely referring to Nolan.

  3. Ameerah M says:

    Hmm… when actors, celebs or directors talk about not having cell phones or email I always find it slightly elitist. Because they don’t have those things… but the people who work for them do. And I’m sure his wife does as well. It is a privilege to be able to completely disconnect like that and still have your life and career run smoothly. And that’s usually because other people are managing those things for you.

    • teecee says:

      Excellent point, Ameerah, thanks for calling this out! It’s generally famous men who brag about things like this, many of whom are fathers — like both Murphy and Nolan. Who’s keeping up with the kids’ sports, doctor’s appointments, etc? Not them! And yet the internet still swoons as if these men have done something great. They haven’t! They are simply outsourcing the mundane or logistical parts of their lives to their wives and staff, as rich men have done forever. (To be clear even not-rich men hand over these tasks to the women in their lives. But they still tend to have cell phones.)

    • OriginalLeigh says:

      Agreed. It’s actually a privilege for a wealthy and successful person to decide that they’re not going to bother with using email or a cell phone. That means they have people to communicate on their behalf. The rest of us would not be allowed to work without agreeing to use those modern “conveniences.” To be clear, the article says that Nolan is the one who doesn’t have email/cell phone (not Murphy).

      • Ameerah M says:

        Yes, that’s why I made sure to add directors as well as actors. It’s always a famous male saying stuff like this.

      • BeanieBean says:

        Just clicked with me. I’m a federal employee. You HAVE to apply on USAJobs, and you HAVE to have an email address and a phone number. You’ll never get through the whole application process without that. So yeah, nice for some.

    • Chaine says:

      Exactly. Anyone nowadays who doesn’t have an electronic communication devices is either in a nursing home with dementia or is an incredibly wealthy and privileged individual with the money to pay others to operate communication devices for them. This post is confusing as to whether it’s the actor or the director who prides themselves on not owning a phone, but either way it makes me like them less!

    • Snuffles says:

      That’s true but there are definitely people who are like that or I some level. Like, they don’t have any social media presence. My sister in law is like that. So is my nephew. They don’t engage with social media except on rare occasions.

      My brother and his wife severely limit their children’s time on any kind of device and tell them if they’re bored, read a book or go outside. In fact, recently, my nephew was utterly horrified that my brother had posted a video of him on Instagram without his permission.

      I can respect that choice even if I can’t give it up.

      • Ameerah M says:

        Not having social media and not having a cell phone or email are two different things.

    • lucy2 says:

      I thought that as well. They can do it, because they have others taking care of all of that for them.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Should have read a little further because that’s exactly what I just noted above. It’s so arrogant, really.

  4. Amy Bee says:

    Yeah, I’m confused as it says that Nolan doesn’t have a computer or phone. But anyway, either way they have people who can answer their calls and emails so they don’t have to.

  5. Rapunzel says:

    Folks that do this pretentious crap annoy the sh*t outta me. Unless you have money issues or you’re cognitively unable to work the technology, get with the times. Your pretentious “I’m too cool for technology ” crap makes life difficult for those around you who have to work around your refusal to use what are now everyday items.

    • msd says:

      Nah, Celebitchy is wrong.

      Nolan has a phone. He said in the past he doesn’t have a smartphone (just has a flip phone) as he’s easily distractible and would use it when bored. And with email, his wife is also his producer so I guess he figures she’ll let him know the important stuff. that comes through.

      And Murphy definitely has a smartphone. There are photos.

  6. JAb says:

    I know people think it’s a flex to say they don’t “own” these types of devices but it honestly just screams how much immense privilege/money you have. I you don’t have a cell phone because you have assistants who communicate for you as well as keep you up to date on anything relevant. These ppl get to disconnect in some amazing exotic places or million dollar homes in the country/hills by choice and can still survive and thrive because they can still get information by the snap of their fingers…it’s not some higher enlightenment than the rest of us but vast wealth. Those who can’t afford a cell phone/internet and yet still find ways to work live and stay in contact are the ones who impress me

  7. HeyKay says:

    I have seen Cillian on talk shows and he is very controlled, polite but not forthcoming or chatty at all.
    He seems to be his authentic self tho. He is there to promote his project, he does fine.
    He simply does not turn into a joke telling, grinning idiot.
    You can almost see him counting the seconds until it is over. He has a complete blank face often, he is listening, responding.

    I do not understand how anyone does not have a phone or computer these days.
    Even doctors offices want you to use their online appt. Apps.

    I have a cheap cell phone that I only use in case of car breakdowns. I do not even give out the number, call my house landline, leave a message, I call back. Robo junk calls are a waste of time.

    • Barbara says:

      Murphy did some really hilarious interviews with Jamie Dornan (for their 2016 movie Anthropoid). It sounds like they’ve been friends for years, but anyway, they were both really funny and it helped the interviewers a lot. They’re up on YouTube if anyone’s interested in watching them.

  8. Jais says:

    Okay, I’m kind of dying to see him in a non-angsty rom-com now.

  9. Andrea says:

    I didnt own a Tv for 5 years, but the pandemic broke me.

  10. Concern Fae says:

    My brother in law refuses to get a cell phone and it’s kind of a dick move. He’s a teacher and he sees colleagues just getting their time swallowed up. But it’s hard on my sister. I wonder if he get one after he retires.

    • Polly says:

      Can’t he just get one and only give the number out to family and friends?

    • Dazed and Confused says:

      I am a teacher as well and it’s important to have very firm boundaries when it comes to your cell phone. I have always been like this, but really clamped down during the pandemic. For example, I never give my number to parents or students. They can contact me through email. I don’t have my work email on my phone. If they are contacting me outside of work hours, they will have to wait until I return to school. My teaching salary is not enough for me to be available 24 hours a day.

      My smartphone is on “do not disturb” all day, every day. I exempt my family from the DND and their calls break through. For me, it’s important that I am the boss of my phone and not the other way around.

  11. Lionel says:

    This morning, I have decided that I love Cillian Murphy. I’m going to invite him to my fantasy dinner party. Mostly so he can tell us all how we’re going to die over dessert. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

    (Yep, still laughing!)

  12. HeyKay says:

    My favorite story I’ve read about Cillian Murphy is the fact that he and his wife moved their family back to Dublin because they felt the kids were turning into “proper English” kids.
    We are Irish. We said “Not Today” and moved back home.
    Also, family members getting older, etc.
    But I loved this!

    Irish, we are Irish. Not British, not English. Irish!
    Folks sometimes do not realize how generations of families were cruelly treated under British rules.
    Never mistake an Irishman for being an Englishman, my friend Michael will immediately correct anyone who does this, “I’m Irish”. And he has corrected people for as long as I’ve known him, decades.

    • Becks1 says:

      There’s an interview with Cillian and someone else (I cant remember who) and the interviewer says something like “you’re English” and Cillian was like no I’m Irish, and then the interviewer was like “okay so British” and he repeated that he was Irish lol.

  13. phaedra7 says:

    This reminds me of some Millenials and Gen Xers who are delusioned by modern tech and want things to go back as far as the 1940s and 1950s. Yes, with Tick-Tock and other apps being popular with a plethora of young people plus a number of adults, these platforms can be bombarding to the hilt–however, tech (cellphones, tablets, smartwatches, on-the-street cameras, and cameras used by law enforcement) is VITAL, IMPHO, FOR SAFETY/SECURITY REASONS! There are a great number of persons who are thus far secured plus staying alive due to these wonderful innovations! ☝🏼

  14. HeyKay says:

    Watching the trailers I’ve seen for Oppenheimer, part of what is so interesting to me is the certain believe that the US must end the war. By any means possible.
    The Govt certainly knew the risks but they also knew that Germany was also working on Nukes and if they had the bomb first, they would destroy everything they could, damn the future.

    Cillian Murphy is a shoe in for an Oscar Nomination.
    Best Lead Actor, and IMO I would like to see his talent and skill acknowledged with a win.

  15. Mel says:

    Admitting to being a luddite, I’m sure others find them delightful. Look, keeping yourself on a social media diet is definitely better your mental health but you should have these things, it makes life easier for you. Just use them when they have to.

  16. Harla A Brazen Hussy says:

    I’m currently reading a biography about Robert Oppenheimer, he’s still rather young at this point in the book, and the vile attitudes towards Jewish people is incredible, how vocal and up-front the president of Harvard University was about not wanting Jews to be allowed in, the social clubs that would outright ban Jewish members, to read this in this day and ago is making me quite fearful of where we’re headed.

  17. Shoegirl77 says:

    I love him. Cillian is from Cork, which is my home city and we have a lot of Cork slang words and expressions and Corkisms. One of them is a deeply sarcastic “I am yeah!” as a reply meaning that whatever is being discussed is absolutely not happening. So I giggled when I read his first words in this excerpt 🤣

  18. Thinking says:

    I’m puzzled as to how a director could survive without a computer. They seem liked they’d need to have a bit of tech knowledge.

  19. Brittney says:


    There are no late-night talk shows in the U.S. right now. Little thing called a writers’ strike.