Cillian Murphy on Playing Silence in ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ and Why He Has a “Love-Hate Relationship” With Backstory

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Cillian Murphy in A QUIET PLACE 2

“I started off in theater so I never really trained; I just learned as I made more theater. And I’m still learning, man.” – Cillian Murphy

Irish actor Cillian Murphy developed his reputation as an effective actor in films by directors like Danny Boyle and Christopher Nolan, and his experience in those films helped prepare his for a role in the sequel to the 2018 hit horror movie A Quiet Place. Like the first film, the sequel was directed by actor-director John Krasinski (who starred in the original) and stars Krasinski’s wife, BAFTA Awards-nominated actress Emily Blunt. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter about his role in A Quiet Place Part II, Murphy reveals what he discussed with Krasinski and Blunt about their characters before shooting the film and how he felt about playing a mostly-silent character in the film.

In A Quiet Place Part II, Murphy plays an old friend of the character portrayed by Krasinski in the first film. To ensure that his character and Blunt’s character were familiar with each other, the trio spent time together to figure out the backstory of their friendship. He explains, “Me, John and Emily hung out and talked about the scenes, the characters, the characters’ backstories and the history that the characters would’ve had. But we never rehearsed anything because I’m not a fan of rehearsal. I don’t really enjoy rehearsal on film, and Emily is the same.”

Although Murphy did discuss his character’s backstory with Krasinski and Blunt, he adds that he doesn’t always find it relevant in portraying a character. He says, “I have a love-hate relationship when it comes to backstory. Some of it is important, and some of it is irrelevant. But it differs from job to job. In this case, I found it relevant because there’s very much a line of before and after with this character, so it was crucial for me to have an awareness of the before… But yes, it was relevant for me to have some sort of scaffolding on which to build the character. And then when we’re doing the after bits, you can sort of perform in the shadow of that, if you get what I mean.”

However, when the interviewer asks Murphy if his and Blunt’s style of acting “technique” clicked, Murphy says that it isn’t something that concerns him. He continues, “I don’t really know what technique is. I don’t understand that word, really, when it comes to how I work. It just happens sometimes. You rely on the director and you rely on the other actor. But technique is not in my vernacular, really.”

Murphy points to his experience in theater as training that prepared him for his mostly-silent role in the film. He continues, “I started off in theater so I never really trained; I just learned as I made more theater. And I’m still learning, man. (Laughs.) But I did theater for about four or five years before I ever did any screen work. So I feel like I’ve done a lot of physical acting, and since I’ve continued to do theater, it was a real sort of liberating experience to get to explore some of that on screen. And it’s rare enough you get to do that these days because most screen acting is about the close-up nowadays, which is good, but when you get a chance to express yourself non-verbally and physically, that’s really something to enjoy and to relish.”

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