Peaky Blinders: Jason Statham lost Tommy Shelby role over text message, Steven Knight reveals

Adam White
Jason Statham and Cillian Murphy: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images/BBC

Jason Statham was the first choice for the role of Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders, until a text message changed the mind of series creator Steven Knight.

Knight revealed that he had originally envisaged Statham in the role and had left meetings with both him and Cillian Murphy, the actor who ultimately played Tommy, convinced that Statham was the right fit.

“I met them both in LA to talk about the role and opted for Jason,” Knight told Esquire. “One of the reasons was because physically in the room Jason is Jason.”

He continued: “Cillian, when you meet him, isn’t Tommy, obviously, but I was stupid enough not to understand that.”

In the wake of the meeting, Murphy appeared to recognise that he wasn’t Knight’s pick for the role, and sent him a text message in a last effort to convince him otherwise.

“He sent me a text saying, ‘Remember, I’m an actor’,” Knight remembered. “Which is absolutely the thing, because he can transform himself. If you meet him in the street he is a totally different human being.”

During the same interview, Knight also revealed that he regretted killing off just one character from the show.

In May, actor Stephen Graham, who will join the cast of Peaky Blinders for its forthcoming sixth series, revealed filming had been put on hold “indefinitely” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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