EXCLUSIVE: Oppenheimer, A Quiet Place Part II and Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy is embarking on his next project with the feature adaptation of Claire Keegan’s acclaimed novel Small Things Like These. Murphy will star in and produce the film that’s been greenlighted by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s Artists Equity which will finance the project. Principal photography is underway in Ireland.

Ciaran Hinds and Emily Watson are also starring in the drama whose source material has been likened to a Dickens tale. The story takes place over Christmas in 1985, when devoted father Bill Furlong (Murphy) discovers the startling secrets being kept by the convent in his town, and some shocking truths about his own life, as well.

The project reunites director Tim Mielants and Murphy, who previously worked together on the BAFTA Award-winning Peaky Blinders. Enda Walsh, a longtime collaborator of Murphy’s, wrote the script. Murphy and producer Alan Moloney commissioned the screenplay from Walsh, having optioned the rights last year and will produce through their production company Big Things Films; this is the shingle’s first feature. 

For Artists Equity, Matt Damon and Drew Vinton will produce; Ben Affleck, Kevin Halloran and Michael Joe will executive produce. Jeff Robinov will also produce. The film is an Irish production with additional funding coming from Screen Ireland and will be co-produced with Wilder Films in Belgium.

Said Murphy, “I’m honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to bring Claire Keegan’s magnificent novel to the screen. We have gathered together a phenomenal team of creatives to make this film, and found exceptional partners in AE, a studio led by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck — actors and filmmakers I have admired for many years.”

Murphy played Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders over the course of a decade. The beloved series ended in 2022 with plans for a film continuation still in the works. Murphy will next be seen leading frequent collaborator Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer which Universal releases in July.

Small Things Like These was published in 2021 by Grove Press and was shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize and the Rathbones Folio Prize. It also won the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, the Ambassadors’ Prize for best Irish novel published in France, and The Kerry Prize for Irish Novel of the year. It is now nominated for the Dublin Literary Award which is presented annually for the best novel in the world written or translated into English. 

Keegan’s previous novel was The Quiet Girl, whose adaptation became Ireland’s first film to be nominated for an International Feature Oscar. Her additional works, including Antartica and Walk the Blue Fields, have won numerous awards and are translated into more than thirty languages.

Artists Equity was launched in November 2022 by CEO Affleck and CCO Damon, and co-founded by RedBird Capital Partners. Its first film, Air, starring Affleck and Damon, his theaters worldwide on April 5. It is currently in production on The Instigators starring Damon and Casey Affleck and directed by Doug Liman, in partnership with Apple Original Films. It’s also in final talks to make Unstoppable, starring Jennifer Lopez.

Murphy is repped by CAA and Lou Coulson Associates. Mielants is repped by CAA and Curtis Brown Group; Watson is represented by UTA and Independent Talent Group; Hinds is represented by CAA and 42; and Walsh is represented by Curtis Brown.

Nancy Tartaglione

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