After a year and a half trying, I finally managed to get Cillian Murphy (pronounced Kil-ian, not Sil-ian as a fellow collector warned me – an error I and many others have made) to sign a sketch for me. He is a fiercely private person who shirks celebrity status. The Cork-born, former law student and rock musician is also known for his distinctive eyes and chameleonic performances in diverse roles.
In 2011 Cillian performed in the monodrama Misterman, written and directed by Enda Walsh. After playing to packed audiences and rave reviews in Ireland and New York, it transferred to the Lyttleton stage at the National Theatre in London n 2012.
Misterman is a physically demanding one man performance on a vast set. Cillian plays Thomas Magill – a crazed small town preacher who has fled the town and is holed up in an unused depot in the countryside, existing on Fanta and Jammie Dodgers. The unhinged evangelist has made a row of crosses out of flattened Fanta and surrounded himself with several ancient tape recorders, out of which come several disturbing voices that tell a fractured story of a single day’s events. Cillian won the Irish Theatre Award and a Drama Desk Award for his performance.
In April 2012 I left a sketch at the National Theatre for Cillian to sign after him a couple of times at the stage door. Subsequently I was in the wrong place at the right time at a couple of premieres Cillian attended. So, I redrew another sketch and sent it to his London agent. Come 26 October 2013 nothing had materialised. On that evening he was due to introduce the film that inspired him at the BFI in London as part of their Screen Epiphanies series. The film was Jerry Schatzberg’s Scarecrow, with Al Pacino and Gene Hackman. It won the Grand Prix at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival. Maybe no coincidence he plays the DC comics super villain Dr Jonathan Crane – alias ‘The Scarecrow’ in the last two Batman films.
The same collector who gave me pronunciation advice also said Cillian turned up three hours earlier last time. 8.45pm minus 3 hours = 5.45pm. I made my was to the BFI on London’s Southbank at 4pm and ensconced myself in a corner and waited. At 8.15pm he arrived through the front and quickly headed for the Green Room. Only a phone call halted his progress… and a handful of ‘graphers. He was happy to sign and dedicate the fourth sketch before he slipped into the safety of the Green Room – well worth the wait.