"She is fearless and polymathic and political and no album ever sounds the same": Oscar-winning Oppenheimer star Cillian Murphy salutes the artist whose album he listened to most last year

Cillian Murphy, with his Oscar
(Image credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic via Getty Images)

Cillian Murphy, the Irish actor whose performance as 'the father of the atomic bomb' Robert Oppenheimer in Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor earlier this month, has paid tribute to PJ Harvey, saluting the Dorset-born singer/songwriter's “fearless” spirit. 

Speaking to The Times, for a [paywalled] profile on Harvey, Murphy says, “Her recent book, Orlam, is a masterwork, and I Inside the Old Year Dying was my most listened to album of last year. 

“I adore her music, but also her spirit as an artist. She is fearless and polymathic and political and no album ever sounds the same, but you always know it’s a PJ Harvey record.”

Harvey featured prominently on the soundtrack to Peaky Blinders, the acclaimed British TV series chronicling the fictional exploits of a Birmingham crime gang, which stars Murphy as Peaky Blinders boss Tommy Shelby. Harvey covered Nick Cave's Red Right Hand for the series, and her songs When Under Ether, To Bring You My Love, This Is Love and Is This Desire also featured on the series soundtrack.

Talking to the BBC in 2014, Peaky Blinders director Colm McCarthy credited Murphy as the man who man this possible, revealing, "Cillian is great friends with Flood [U2/Depeche Mode] producer who has worked with Polly Harvey (as well as Nick Cave) and we began to talk about whether there might be a way for this to work." 

Appearing on BBC 6Music in 2014, Flood spoke about reworking Harvey's music for the show, saying: "I was trying to do something very different, which is to deconstruct all of Polly's [PJ Harvey's] old material and then weave it through in the underscore to make it very cutting edge, very post-modern, and set about creating music for the historical period but that was also fresh."

Listen to Harvey's take on Red Right Hand below:

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.