Oscar nominee Cillian Murphy has said the level of talent coming out of Ireland is “extraordinary”.
In a spectacular turnout for Irish talent at January’s Golden Globes in the US, Murphy (Oppenheimer), Barry Keoghan (Saltburn) and Andrew Scott (All of Us Strangers) represented half of the six nominees for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama.
Murphy was the eventual winner for his turn as the eponymous nuclear physicist in Christopher Nolan’s haunting historical epic.
Murphy and Keoghan are among the Best Actor nominees for this month’s BAFTA Awards in the UK while their fellow Irish actor Paul Mescal is shortlisted for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in All of Us Strangers.
The Irish production Poor Things has 11 nominations for both the BAFTAs and the Oscars – a record for an Irish film – and Murphy is also Oscar-nominated for his work on Oppenheimer.
In an interview with the BBC, Murphy reflected on the incredible amount of success coming out of Ireland in the arts, saying: “I think part of it is coincidence, and I think part of it is that Irish people tell stories very well, just in the pub to each other.
“We’re good at it. We have a long history of it. We’re comfortable with stories, with songs, with poetry. These things are just kind of second nature to us.”
He added: “But it is kind of phenomenal the level of talent that the country is producing. For, like, five million people, it’s kind of extraordinary.”
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The 47-year-old Cork native told the BBC that he tries not to let the awards season buzz affect his performances.
He said: “I know everyone says this, but you never go into making a film thinking about awards. That’s not what we do. It’s impossible to make a film that way.
“But when a film connects with audiences like this particular one has in a way that none of us could have anticipated… it’s hugely flattering and hugely humbling and it’s lovely to see that.”
Murphy and Paul Giamatti (The Holdovers) are considered frontrunners in the Oscars lead actor category, but the Irish star said he doesn’t spend time worrying about the outcome.
“I genuinely don’t think about that,” he said. “It’s kind of wasted energy. I just feel so thrilled and humbled to be [mentioned] in the same breath as all those wonderful actors.”
The BAFTAs take place in London on Sunday 18 February. The Oscars take place in Los Angeles on Sunday 10 March.