6 Best Cillian Murphy Horror and Thriller Movies

In anticipation of what we hope is an epic blockbuster, let’s look back at some of Murphy’s best horror and thriller roles.

Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer in the upcoming film Oppenheimer (2023).

Cillian (pronounced like “Killian”) Murphy is an Irish actor whose first big role was in 28 Days Later (2002) a horror film that may or may not be a zombie movie. Throughout his career Murphy has collaborated with director Christopher Nolan several times including Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, Inception (2010) and Dunkirk (2017). He most recently starred as the title character in Nolan’s film, Oppenheimer (2023), a biographical thriller about the theoretical physicist who made the first nuclear weapons. Murphy received an Academy Award nomination for ‘Best Actor’ for this role. Let’s look back at some of Murphy’s best horror and thriller roles.

Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer in the upcoming film Oppenheimer (2023).

28 Days Later (2002)

The infected in 28 Days Later are fast, highly aggressive and extremely contagious… but are they zombies?

Cillian Murphy’s first major role was as the star of this pandemic horror movie written by Alex Garland and directed by Danny Boyle. Murphy plays bike courier Jim who is hit by a car on the job and is in a coma. Giving the film its title, Jim wakes up alone in a hospital room 28 day after the “Rage” virus spreads throughout Great Britain.

Later on in his career Cillian Murphy laughed about his opening shot in 28 Days Later which featured the actor laying nude on a hospital bed.

Red Eye (2005)

Murphy’s character is named “Jackson Rippner”.

Red Eye is a forgotten Wes Craven psychological thriller with the vibe of an airplane slasher movie. Luxury hotel manager Lisa (Rachel McAdams) catches a red-eye flight from her grandmother’s funeral back home to Miami. At an airport bar she meets a stranger (Cillian Murphy) who ends up sitting next to her on the flight. It turns out this isn’t a coincidence, the man represents a domestic terrorist organization that demands Lisa’s compliance in organizing an assassination at her hotel.

Sunshine (2007)

The real physicist who served as a technical advisor for Murphy praised his understanding of physics, a good omen for Oppenheimer (2023).

A sci-fi psychological thriller again written by Alex Garland and directed by Danny Boyle. In the year 2057, a group of astronauts take on the dangerous task of reigniting the dying Sun. Cillian Murphy stars as physicist Robert Capa, who directs the others in a series of dangerous tasks with the hope of preventing the Earth from freezing.

Peacock (2010)

Murphy wore contact lenses in this role to make his blue eyes brown.

A psychological thriller starring Cillian Murphy as a quiet bank clerk in the small town of Peacock, Nebraska. The man keeps to himself in order to hide his dissociative identity disorder. A train accident forces the clerk into the spotlight and he lies in order to cover up his illness. His two personalities then struggle to coexist under scrutiny from the townspeople and a visit from his past.

Retreat (2011)

Retreat is about paranoia and isolation.

A British pandemic horror movie starring Cillian Murphy and Thandiwe Newton as an unhappily married couple on holiday to a completely secluded island off the coast of Scotland. After a few days in complete isolation, a man in army fatigues (Jamie Bell) washes onshore. He tells the couple that an airborne virus has ravaged the entire world and the three must stay locked in the cabin in order to be safe. Tensions rise as the couple is unsure whether the man is telling the truth.

A Quiet Place: Part II (2020)

Cillian Murphy wrote an email to John Krasinski telling him how much he liked A Quiet Place (2018), but never actually sent it.

A post-apocalyptic horror movie written and directed by John Krasinski. Following the events of A Quiet Place (2018), Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Evelyn’s infant seek safety and find their neighbor and old friend Emmett (Cillian Murphy) who is a cynical loner after losing his family to the aliens. When Regan runs away to help defeat the aliens, Evelyn convinces a reluctant Emmett to go to her rescue.

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Meet The Author

Chrissy is the co-founder of Creepy Catalog. She has over 10 years of experience writing about horror, a degree in philosophy and Reiki level II certification.

Chrissy Stockton