Why does Tommy Shelby never eat anything in Peaky Blinders?

Why does Tommy Shelby never eat anything in Peaky Blinders?

Did you notice this hidden “joke” from the series with Cillian Murphy?

Last week, Peaky Blinders has celebrated his 10th birthday. The phenomenon from across the Channel took a little longer to arrive here (Arte started broadcasting the series in March 2015, and not in September 2013 as in England), but this show about a family of thugs from Birmingham at the beginning of the 20th century ended up conquering the French public.

To celebrate this anniversary, BBC One interviewed its creator, Steven Knight, as well as its lead actor Cillian Murphy. So full of stories about the making of Peaky Blinders are known (for example, there was talk of initially casting Jason Statham for the lead role), there is one that still amuses the duo a lot today: the poor lifestyle of its protagonist.

Because if we often see Tommy Shelby with a cigarette in his mouth or consuming a glass of alcohol, have you noticed that we never see him eating anything? Initially, it was a coincidence: during the first two seasons, Knight and Murphy didn’t particularly purposely not show him feeding. But once fans of the show pointed it out to them, the duo couldn’t stop having fun with the idea.

“In fact, there are lots of things that build up as the show progresses. For example, I remember that after two seasons, we didn’t realize that we had never shown Tommy eating. We see him sitting at the table, but he never eats a piece. So we made it into a sort of running gag. During these 36 hours of television, Tommy Shelby never eats anything.”

Regarding the details developed during the filming, Cillian Murphy adds that he also did not purposely wet his lips before smoking a cigarette. Simply, the fake cigarettes that were offered to him, made from non-carcinogenic herbs, dried out his lips, which made them unsexy on screen. Hence this furtive gesture which became one of Tommy Shelby’s trademarks without him realizing it.

“These things appear when you have the chance to be in the skin of the same character for so long, he comments. It’s the little things that stand out. I would say it was Steve who noticed it first, and then we kept it.”

Some of Tommy Shelby’s characteristics were therefore not written from the start, but were created during the production of the show, which ended last year with its sixth season. A film is now to be made to complete the family’s story, and once released, Murphy has vowed to play a character who would be non-smoker. Because between Tommy and Robert J. Oppenheimer, he smoked a lot of fake cigarettes on his recent shoots.

“I smoked so many fake cigarettes on Peakythen on this film, told Cillian Murphy this summer Guardian. My next character will not be a smoker. Because it doesn’t do us any good. Even herbal cigarettes have health warnings now.”

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