Designed by “Peaky Blinders,” written by Steven Knight of “Eastern Promises,” takes viewers to the bleak slums of post-war Birmingham, where criminal gangs rule the streets. The one managed by the close-knit Shelby family is the most feared and revered of them all, led by a courageous leader whose huge aspirations may be their salvation… or their doom.

Thanks to its sweeping storyline, compelling photography, and, perhaps most importantly, its top-notch ensemble, “Peaky Blinders” has received global recognition. Since the show’s premiere in 2013, this exceptional cast has been providing classic performances that enhance the gangster genre. These performers, however, have careers that reach well beyond Birmingham.

In a wide range of places, times, and genres, they’ve played space explorers, musicians, warriors, and romantics. You could remember them from one or more of these roles — or, in the case of some of the most prolific, a large number of them. Why do the performers from “Peaky Blinders” appear so familiar? We’re here to find out by examining their most well-known positions.

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Cillian Murphy

Cillian Murphy plays Thomas “Tommy” Shelby, the ruthless commander of the renowned Peaky Blinders. Despite Tommy’s stern and no-nonsense manner, Murphy’s captivating charisma allows viewers to identify with him. For years, he’s relied on this ability: Murphy was already a cinematic celebrity before “Peaky Blinders” established his place as a TV icon, with big performances in films including “28 Days Later,” “Red Eye,” and the boundary-breaking comedy-drama “Breakfast on Pluto.” He received his first Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a musical or comedy for the latter picture.

Anderson Paul

Arthur Shelby is played by Paul Anderson, who, together with his brother John, is in charge of the family business’s dirty job. Arthur is a wounded figure seeking to find peace, but his devotion to Tommy prevents him from fully abandoning his violent life.

Despite the fact that “Peaky Blinders” is Anderson’s most ambitious endeavor to date, he has previously been in a number of productions. “Silent Witness,” “Lewis,” “Midsomer Murders,” “Top Boy,” “The Great Train Robbery,” and a “Doctor Who” episode have all featured him in “Special Christmas edition. He’s also been in action flicks including “A Lonely Place to Die,” “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” and “The Sweeney,” in which he played a supporting part. After establishing himself in the entertainment industry as Arthur Shelby, he has gone on to appear in a slew of critically acclaimed films, including Brian Helgeland’s “Legend,” Ron Howard’s “In the Heart of the Sea,” Alejandro G. Iárritu’s “The Revenant,” and Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley.”

Helen McCrory is a well-known actress.

Tommy Shelby isn’t the only one in charge of the Peaky Blinders. Polly Gray, the family matriarch — better known to fans as Aunt Polly — is an essential element of the organization and a dependable source of counsel. The late Helen McCrory plays this fan-favorite role, and her dominating performance is one of the show’s highlights. Unfortunately, McCrory was unable to see the series through to the end: She died of breast cancer in 2021, at the age of 52, according to Reuters. By devoting Episode 1 of Season 6, “Black Day,” to McCrory and her character, “Peaky Blinders” paid an emotional homage to her.

McCrory has parts in a number of important films, including “Interview with the Vampire,” “The Count of Monte Cristo,” “The Queen,” “Becoming Jane,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Hugo,” “Skyfall,” and “Loving Vincent,” in addition to being a well-known stage actress and television star. Her most well-known part, aside from her outstanding “Peaky Blinders” performance, is perhaps Narcissa Malfoy, mother of Tom Felton’s Draco Malfoy, in the final three “Harry Potter” films.

McCrory was originally slated as Bellatrix Lestrange, Narcissa’s sister, in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” but had to drop out owing to her pregnancy, as Helena Bonham Carter confirmed to Entertainment Weekly.

Joe Cole is a musician from the United States.

Joe Cole had yet to make a huge imprint on the business when “Peaky Blinders” premiered, despite appearances on programs including “Holby City,” “Injustice,” and “Skins.” Cole has become one of the UK’s most exciting young actors thanks to his breakout performance as Tommy Shelby’s dependable brother in “A Long Way Down,” the Florence Pugh-led drama “The Falling,” the war drama “Thank You For Your Service,” and thrillers like “Green Room,” “Secret in Their Eyes,” and “Woodshock.”

Sophie Rundle

Ada Thorne, Tommy’s rebellious sister, is played by Sophie Rundle. Ada isn’t hesitant to speak out and say what she’s thinking, even if it’s disapproval of her family’s illicit actions. Ada develops into a bright and fierce lady on whom Tommy leans considerably as the seasons go.

Rundle made her film debut in 2007 with Warwick Davis in “Small Town Folk,” a British horror-comedy. She subsequently went on to star in the miniseries “Titanic” in 2012, as well as the fantasy drama “Merlin,” the mystery drama “The Bletchley Circle,” and the two-part crime thriller “Talking to the Dead.”

Rundle went on to star in a number of critically praised dramas after joining “Peaky Blinders,” including the TV film “An Inspector Calls,” the period drama “Jamestown,” and HBO’s historical drama “Gentleman Jack,” and the thriller-drama “Bodyguard.” Rundle has only acted in a few films, including the psychological thriller “The Face of an Angel” and the George Clooney-directed science fiction feature “The Midnight Sky.”

Annabelle Wallis is a British actress.

Grace Burgess, a government spy who captures the heart of the formidable Tommy Shelby, is played by Annabelle Wallis in the first three seasons of “Peaky Blinders.” In an interview with FT, she claimed that playing a difficult lady like Grace broadened her professional horizons. As a result, she has starred in high-profile movies such as Tom Cruise’s “The Mummy” revival, the ensemble comedy “Tag,” the action thriller “The Silencing,” and horror films such as “Malignant” and “Annabelle.”

Finn Cole is a character in the film Finn Cole

In “Peaky Blinders,” Finn Cole portrays Michael Gray, Polly’s long-lost son, who is introduced in Season 2 as Polly’s long-lost son. Michael, who starts out as a naive young guy pushed into a dark new world, grows into a more clever figure, owing in large part to Tommy’s tutelage, who sees himself in Michael. Finn Cole made his cinematic debut as an extra in the 2012 action picture “Offender” before joining “Peaky Blinders.” Notably, his older brother Joe Cole, who plays John Shelby in the series, appears in this film. When Cole earned the role of Michael Gray, this exceedingly modest job was the only credit Cole had to his name.

Natasha O’Keeffe is an American artist.

Lizzie Stark, played by Natasha O’Keeffe, is one of the few characters on “Peaky Blinders” who endures substantial transformations throughout the course of the series. She begins her career as a sex worker, then moves up the corporate ladder to become Mrs. Thomas Shelby. Lizzie is transformed into a powerful and ferocious figure as a result of her lengthy and twisting route. Regardless of Tommy’s flaws, Lizzie is a continual source of encouragement in his life.

O’Keeffe was already well-known in the United Kingdom before joining “Peaky Blinders.” When she was cast in the lead role of Sadie Anderson in the serial drama “Lip Service,” she earned her big break. Following the conclusion of that series, she featured as Abbey Smith in “Misfits,” a science fiction series about teenage offenders who develop superpowers while performing community service. She has starred in a wide range of TV programs since the popularity of “Peaky Blinders,” including “The Last Panthers,” “Jekyll and Hyde,” “Sherlock,” “Strike,” “And Rebellion,” and “Intergalactic.” O’Keeffe’s career is sure to grow much more exciting in the years ahead, given that these films vary from historical drama to sci-fi action.

Anya Taylor-Joy is a British actress

Anya Taylor-Joy, who has become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors, plays the manipulative and ambitious Gina Gray. Taylor-Joy had important roles in high-profile films such as M. Night Shyamalan’s thrillers “Split” and “Glass,” as well as the black comedy thriller “Thoroughbreds,” before joining the ensemble group of “Peaky Blinders.” Her role as Thomasin in Robert Eggers’ famous folk horror film “The Witch” garnered her widespread attention. Her breakout performance garnered her the Gotham Award for Breakthrough Actor and the Empire Award for Best Female Newcomer for her debut.


Since taking on the role of Gina, Joy’s career has continued to develop. She kicked off the new year with a critically lauded performance as the main character in “Emma,” a fresh rendition of Jane Austen’s classic novel. She followed that up with “The Queen’s Gambit,” a Netflix miniseries. She earned her first Golden Globe Award for her major role as Beth Harmon, a disturbed chess prodigy. She is well known for her role as 1960s actress Sandie in Edgar Wright’s “Last Night in Soho.” Eggers’ vengeance epic “The Northman,” David O. Russell’s period thriller “Canterbury Glass,” and Mark Mylod’s black comedy “The Menu” are among the films she’s now linked to.

Tom Hardy is a British actor

Tom Hardy plays Alfie Solomons, Tommy’s nemesis and the leader of a London-based Jewish gang.

Alfie’s unique charm, dark humor, violent outbursts, and intimidating presence are all expertly balanced by Hardy. He has particularly strong chemistry with Cillian Murphy, which has helped the role become a fan favorite.

Sam Neill is a British actor.

One of the initial villains in “Peaky Blinders” is Chester Campbell, played by Sam Neill. Winston Churchill assigns him the duty of collecting some lost weaponry in Season 1. His rescue mission, however, morphs into a conspiracy to bring down the Shelby family when he and Tommy battle.

Aidan Gillen is a British actor.

Aidan Gillen is a veteran of the small screen. On “Game of Thrones,” he played Lord Petyr Baelish, alias Littlefinger, and on “The Wire,” he played Tommy Carcetti. Gillen left Westeros for Birmingham in “Peaky Blinders,” where he played Aberama Gold, after leaving the earlier fantasy series. Aberama has a harsh reputation for terrible murders, which fits quite nicely with Gillen’s previous portrayals.

Gillen’s turn as Stuart Alan Jones in the critically acclaimed British drama “Queer as Folk” was his big break, earning him a BAFTA nomination for best actor. He went on to work on projects such as “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Those Who Wish Me Dead” are among the films in the “Maze Runner” franchise. Gillen’s most recent roles are Frank Kinsella on “Kin” and Milo Sunter on “Mayor of Kingstown.” Both of these programs are criminal dramas, and both feature Gillen alongside Marvel Cinematic Universe actors Jeremy Renner and Charlie Cox, respectively.

Sam Claflin is a British actor.

Oswald Mosley, played by Sam Claflin, is introduced to fans in Season 5 of “Peaky Blinders.” Mosley is a fascist leader Tommy meets as a Member of Parliament and is based on a real-life British politician of the same name. Tommy realizes the terrible harm Mosley’s views offer to the world as a former soldier.

Adrien Brody is a well-known actor.

As Luca Changretta, an Italian-American thug seeking vengeance on the Shelby family, Adrien Brody dazzles. Many “Peaky Blinders” fans were already familiar with Brody because he is a real-life movie star. In “The Pianist,” he played Holocaust survivor Wadysaw Szpilman, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Brody lost weight, gave up his vehicle and residence, and committed himself to the piano in order to prepare for this harrowing performance.

Brody is also recognized for his many collaborations with famed filmmaker Wes Anderson, appearing in films such as “The Darjeeling Limited,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and “The French Dispatch.” Apart from “Peaky Blinders,” Brody has also been in TV dramas such as the two-part miniseries “Houdini,” the horror drama “Chapelwaite,” and the award-winning HBO drama “Succession.”

Paddy Considine is a well-known Irish actor.

Father John Hughes, the major antagonist in Season 3 of “Peaky Blinders,” is played by Paddy Considine. Hughes, despite his appearance as a man of God, is a particularly cruel foe: his mind tricks and ties to a far-right covert organization make him considerably more deadly than any thug who has previously targeted the Shelby family.

Considine is a two-time BAFTA winner best known for his work in films such as “Last Resort,” “In America,” “My Summer of Love,” and “Cinderella Man” from the early 2000s. He is most known for his role in “Dead Man’s Shoes,” which he co-wrote with Shane Meadows, a longtime collaborator. He also plays Andy Wainwright in the buddy cop comedy “Hot Fuzz” and Steven Prince in the sci-fi comedy “The World’s End,” so he’ll be known to fans of Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy.

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Noah Taylor

Darby Sabini, played by Noah Taylor, is yet another “Peaky Blinders” character based on a real-life individual in Season 2. He rules the London racetracks as a British-Italian crime lord. Taylor had a recurring role as Locke on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” prior to joining the series. Later, he was cast in the oddball supernatural series “Preacher” like Adolf Hitler. What do you think of it for range?

In addition to his television work, Taylor has appeared in films such as “Almost Famous,” “Vanilla Sky,” “The Sleeping Dictionary,” the Angelina Jolie-led “Tomb Raider” movie, “Edge of Tomorrow,” and the cult dramedy “He Died with a Felafel in His Hand.” Taylor’s most known character, Mr. Bucket, father of Charlie, in Tim Burton’s rendition of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” maybe remembered by millennial audiences in particular.