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DANNY'S NEW GOLDEN BOY; Exclusive the BIG razz interview Cillian boosts his star profile as he is reunited with top director Boyle for sci-fi epic.

Byline: By Rick Fulton

CILLIAN MURPHY is faced with the end of the world in new film Sunshine so it's no wonder he has started thinking about God, life and the future.

The dad to 15-month-old son Malachy stars in Trainspotting director Danny Boyle's new sci-fi blockbuster as a scientist charged with dumping a bomb on our failing sun to kick-start it back into life.

"Kids are your message to the future and you want them to live in a world that is reasonably beautiful and still has a future," explained the 30-year old Cork-born actor, who admits to doing his bit for the environment including putting energy-saving bulbs around his London home.

Cillian, who married wife Yvonne McGuinness nearly three years ago, added: "As a dad it does get you thinking.

"Sunshine is a film that highlights the fragility of the planet and how briefly we are on it, but how much we contribute to its future.

"It got me thinking about life and religion, science vs religion and all that. I was verging on being an agnostic and this film confirmed any of the atheistic beliefs I had."

While Ewan McGregor was Boyle's lead actor in his first two films - Shallow Grave and Trainspotting - he was overlooked in favour of Leonardo DiCaprio for The Beach and hasn't worked with the director since.

Now it seems Cillian (pronounced Killyan) has taken over as Boyle's muse. Already with a track record of finding new talent, Boyle first chose Cillian for 2002's cult horror movie 28 Days Later and has now recruited him again for his first sci-fi movie. In the intervening years, Cillian has become hot property.

From playing The Scarecrow in Batman Begins, to a terrorist in Red Eye, then a transgender orphan in Breakfast on Pluto and IRA freedom fighter in Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes The Barley, the actor has shown he can play any role.

Of course, when I meet Cillian in London's ultra-posh Dorchester Hotel he bats away any suggestion Boyle has found a new favourite lead actor.

Cillian laughed: "Danny can cast whoever he wants - he's not handicapped by being part of a studio.

"I don't think he would pick me out of loyalty. For Danny it's about the right actor for the right role.

"28 Days Later was so important to my career, it gave me a step into Hollywood and I owe Danny a lot. It was nice to come back to him after working on lots of other films with other directors and maturing as an actor and a person.

"I'd like to work with him again, I think he's one of the best directors around, but it will be up to him."

The 30-year-old, with his piercing blue eyes and good looks, has attracted criticism for being too young and good looking to play Sunshine's scientist.

Cillian grinned: "The scientist who advised us on the film, Dr Brian Cox, has a lot of boyish charm himself.

"He used to play keyboards in D: Ream but is now Professor of physics at Manchester University."

Cox was brought in to make sure the story had some semblance of reality. Written by Alex Garland, author of The Beach book and 28 Days Later script, Cox made sure the premise was sound.

Sunshine is set in the near future when the sun is dying and mankind faces extinction.

With earth in permanent winter, man's last hope is the Icarus II, a spacecraft with an eight-strong team of Asian-American astronauts who're 16 months into a mission to reignite the sun with a nuclear bomb the size of Manhattan. Deep into their voyage, the crew hear a distress beacon from the Icarus I, which disappeared on the same mission seven years earlier.

A terrible accident throws their mission into jeopardy and soon the crew are fighting not only for their lives and sanity, but for the future of the earth.

It's a great sci-fi thriller - a cross between 2001: A Space Odyssey and space horror Event Horizon.

Cillian plays the ship's scientist and bomb pusher, Capa, with Chris Evans, who was Human Torch Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four, as Mace the engineer.

Scots producer Andrew Macdonald, who has worked with Boyle since Trainspotting, got in touch with physics expert Dr Cox after seeing him on a BBC telly programme.

Cox works at CERN (the Centre for European Nuclear Research) in Geneva, which is the world's largest particle physics laboratory, and joined the production as scientific consultant.

Cillian admits he was "very poor" at science at school and travelled to Geneva to spend time with Cox and try to get an insight into a physicist's life.

The actor said: "We sat at the Holiday Inn bar talking about the meaning of life. He also took me round CERN where they are building this particle execrator which has a 24km circumference and is smashing particles together to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang.

"I didn't really understand any of it but what I was looking for more was the essence of what it is, what having all this knowledge or being a physicist can do.

"So I tried to steal mannerisms off these guys and get a sense of how they function as humans."

Before Sunshine started its 15-week shoot Cillian and the other actors lived together for two weeks at a student digs in Mile End, East London, to get a sense of sharing a confined space.

Cillian said: "It wasn't like the ship - we could go out for meals and to the pub. Luckily everyone got on well.

"In the film, mine and Chris Evans' characters don't get on, but in real life we did and there was none of that animosity off screen."

So did he learn anything living in the dorm? Cillian chuckled: "That I'm a good people person and a reasonable cook. Would I do it again? No, once is enough."

Preparations also included scuba diving, lectures on astronomy and physics, stunt training, flight simulation and a trip on a light aircraft to experience zero gravity.

Cillian describes the experience as "interesting, sickening, horrifying and exhilarating all at the same time".

As well as some amazing special effects, the film is also action-packed. A huge horror-like twist at the end has the characters running for their lives.

Cillian grinned: "That's the real boys' own stuff that I enjoy."

He even had to wear a huge specially-created protector suit partially modelled on South Park's Kenny.

He said: "We filmed in August and September and it was so hot people were fainting although I didn't.

Danny created a camera within a helmet to get the actor's reactions.

"It weighed a ton, but those scenes look believable on screen because a lot of the time we are genuinely sweating and out of breath."

Sunshine is out on April 5.

'28 Days Later was my step into Hollywooda and I owe Danny a lot. I'd love to work with him again in the future'


HOT STUFF: The Irish actor sweats it out in special sun-protector suit; SPACE RACE: Cillian is charged with saving planet earth in Sunshine; FAIRY GORY: Cillian shot to fame with lead role in Boyle's horror hit, 28 Days Later
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 30, 2007
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