Everybody loves a good villain. Luckily for Irish actor Tim Murphy, he’s one of the best of the worst. A self-described “bad guy with a heart of gold”…on screen, that is- Murphy was ranked in one of the top spots for Best Series Bad Guy, Ian Doyle, in CBS’s Criminal Minds.
Murphy recurred as Doyle in five episodes last season and will appear in the season seven premiere, set to air in September. You may also recognize him as Jeremy Iron’s right-hand man in the 2008 film Appaloosa, “In the film, I try to rescue Iron’s character from Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen. Ironically, I later played Ed’s right hand man in National Treasure 2. The thing about being the right hand man and the villain is that you can’t succeed because the leads are always the heroes and you can’t kill the heroes,” said Murphy.
Sitting across the table from Murphy, it’s easy to imagine him as a hero. He is gracefully older, incredibly charming, and could easily play the roles that often go to the afore-mentioned Harris or Mortensen, not to mention the recent films made by stars like Liam Neeson.
By all accounts, Murphy started acting late. He graduated with a business degree from an Irish university that went unused. He lived in NYC in the early eighties, followed by Florida, working construction in both cities. He dabbled in acting in Miami before returning to Ireland to formally train. “I was dating a casting assistant at the time so I took some classes. When I realized it was serious, the acting, I decided to head back to Ireland to train for two years at the Focus Theater, where Gabriel Byrne went.”
Murphy worked for eight years overseas, mostly in TV and theater until a movie brought him to LA in 1999. “I had worked steady in Ireland and you come over here thinking it will be the same thing but you are pretty much starting from scratch unless you were in some huge independent hit. But I stayed, worked in a bar, sold Christmas trees. I missed out on an opportunity for a play that was offered to me, Moon for the Misbegotten at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, because I had just gotten here and didn’t want to leave. The play went on to Broadway and at the time I thought, I’d missed a big chance. You struggle for a while, but I’ve been working steady for the last few years. You never know how it’s going to play out.”
Judging by his upcoming slate of films, things seem to be working out all right. Murphy’s latest projects include Treasure of the Black Jaquar, which is set for theatrical release. Murphy plays Blake West a treasure hunter that two young men first meet in a prison in Mexico. The Untitled Andrew Weiner Project, recently shot in Alaska, casting Murphy as a polar bear hunter who guides an expedition of men to the interior of the arctic circle in search of a monster. The script is loosely based on actual real-life experiments (a la Frankenstein) and shot in the style of the Blair Witch Project. Finally, he just wrapped the indie film, To Kill A Memory, shot in Arizona. Murphy plays an ex-confederate cavalry officer who runs a state prison in the 1890’s. The film also stars country singer Kix Brooks.
“I envision myself having the types of roles like actor Robert Shaw in Jaws. Of course I’d like to play the lead guy but I also enjoy being the ‘bad guy’ because it’s often more interesting. Shaw is a rough, bad guy who helps the good guys but is not totally evil. There is inner conflict and for me, it’s fun and easy.”
As for his lighter side, you may also recognize Murphy as the face of Direct TV. He shot national spots both last year and this year playing a Russian oligarch with too much money and woman. “I love creating comedic characters but I don’t often get the chance, people always see me for darker roles. Even for this, they only wanted Russian actors but I managed to get in at the last minute and they dropped the person they had in mind for me. There has even been talk of expanding the character to a TV series, comedy…which would be nice.”
In the meantime, fans will have to be content with his darker side. But something tells me, it won’t be long before Murphy gets a right-hand man of his own.
Murphy is currently represented by SDB and Chaotic Management.