Actor Cillian Murphy on The Beatles’ ‘A Day in the Life’

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Actor Cillian Murphy shares his love for The Beatles. Photo credit: Marco Grob for Universal Pictures

Cillian Murphy, star of the summer box office smash Oppenheimer, has said that his best acting experiences “feel like music.”

As a self-proclaimed Beatles obsessive, Murphy considers the song “A Day in the Life” — from the band’s 1967 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album — the apotheosis of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s collaboration. Murphy says director Peter Jackson’s 2021 three-part documentary series The Beatles: Get Back showcases the incredible friendship and brotherhood between the four bandmates. He watched the whole doc in one sitting. 

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This interview was conducted prior to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. It has been edited for length and clarity. 

It's very hard to pick your favorite Beatles’ tune. It's almost impossible. But if I had to pick one, it would be A Day in the Life because I think it's probably the apotheosis of the Lennon-McCartney relationship. I think it's one of the greatest works of art.

I think if you didn't have A Day in the Life you wouldn't have “Bohemian Rhapsody.” You wouldn't have “Paranoid Android.” They were just pushing the envelope, you know? And the thing that always gets me about that piece of music is, they were in their mid-20s. I think George was 24. So it's just phenomenal. 

They've been a constant companion to me all through my life. I started listening to to them when I was four or five and I’ve never stopped. I think that The Beatles: Get Back documentary that came out… For anyone who's not even interested in music, but if you're interested in creativity and friendship, just watch that documentary. I watched the whole thing in one go, eight hours, and I've watched it twice since. It’s just beautiful.

More: Peter Jackson on ‘Get Back’: ‘Money was not the primary incentive’

Just how kind they were to each other, that sort of deep friendship. Even when George left the band and he said, “Alright lads, I’ll see you around the clubs,” there was no animosity. They were just really kind and that beautiful conversation between Paul and John, with the hidden mic, they just had this understanding. They were like brothers. And I love that doc. It's remarkable.

I think “We Can Work It Out” is another good one when they were really working closely together. But I think “A Day in the Life” is the one.

It was almost like it gave permission for music to become the way it did. Every time I listen to this, it still moves me. That incredible orchestral orgasm in between Lennon's bit and McCartney’s bit and then that final chord at the end, there's nothing like it really. It's just profoundly brilliant.

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Rebecca Mooney