He’s on Boyle, Baby!

“Bloody hell, that was a good decision. Damn!” English director Danny Boyle was boasting about casting the magnetic Irishman Cillian Murphy as his leading man. “In between the first film I did with him [28 Days Later] and this one [sci-fi suspense thriller Sunshine, which opens on Friday], I’ve seen some of the things he’s done [Batman Begins, The Wind That Shakes the Barley] and I’d forgotten how magnetic he was. Like, whoa! It’s very unfair, really,” he told The Observer in a phone interview, in his peppy brogue.

“He’s quite feminine in a way, and I think that’s something quite different than a lot of lead actors sometimes who are butch beyond belief,” Mr. Boyle cooed of Mr. Murphy. “He’s quite, androgynous is not the word … there’s something bisexual about him, and I don’t mean in a preference way, I meant in a … there’s something very feminine about him, but people relate to him as a man. It’s very hard to explain.”

Mr. Murphy, in all his lanky, pale-skinned, freckle-spackled, glacial blue-eyed glory, stars in Sunshine as a physicist leading a team of astronauts in an outer space journey to save the dying sun.

“It should feel like a real-time experience, that claustrophobia of space and the pressure and intensity of that journey and the psychological dimension of coming face to face with the source of all life in our universe,” Mr. Boyle explained. “If you look back at all of our cultures, whether pagan or Christian, the sun … it’s everything. It dictates the rhythm of our existence, and people sacrifice to it, et cetera. The whole idea of the way we set up the film was this obsession, really.”

But don’t be expecting any Aerosmith-soundtracked cheesy moments or a tearful ending, Mr. Boyle warned. “There would be no cheering crowds.” Except, perhaps, for the captivating Mr. Murphy.

Sunshine, starring Cillian Murphy, Michelle Yeoh, Rose Byrne, and Chris Evans, opens at the Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema, 143 E. Houston Street, on July 20. He’s on Boyle, Baby!