I was just totally obsessed with music. It never occurred to me that acting could be the outlet for performance”
and having done well at his Leaving Cert, Murphy still did the decent thing and signed on at UCC. He now admits that – beware, younger, smarter readers – he really only studied law because he had the points. After a relaxed year, he removed himself from the university and embarked on the creative life.
“I didn’t apply myself very well. We laugh about this now at home, but it was a tense time in the Murphy household. And I am the oldest, so it was more serious. I wasn’t following any family history. It wasn’t like I was walking into the family law firm. If I was going to university, I obviously should have done arts. I really disagree with the points system.”
When he was just 20, he secured one of the two roles in Enda Walsh’s seminal Disco Pigs. Produced by Corcadorca, featuring deliciously tricky language, the production followed two lifelong friends as their relationship begins to turn dangerously septic. To that point, Irish theatre had been somewhat backward in dealing with contemporary youth culture. The play, thus, seemed like a lunge into under-explored territory. A European tour and, ultimately, Kirsten Sheridan’s film version followed.
“We travelled everywhere. I actually got to live the rock’n’roll lifestyle, but, rather than being in a band, I was in a play. After all, I was just 20 when I got the part. Then there was a year being unemployed in Cork. To be honest, I loved it. All I needed was money for pints. I could live off bread and cheese.”
You wouldn’t say that there were any massive breaks in Murphy’s career. He did a play here. He did a film there. Then, before