All About Cillian Murphy’s Wife Yvonne McGuinness

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With the release of Oppenheimer, the already very successful Cillian Murphy has been put in a brighter spotlight. The Christopher Nolan film about the lead scientist of the Manhattan Project was probably going to receive a lot of press to begin with, but the surprise connection the movie has made to Greta Gerwig’s Barbie film has made it part of a hotly-anticipated double feature—they’re both coming out on the same day, and fans are going wild for the box office competition.

Murphy appears to be taking it all in stride. The Irish actor seems like a pretty down-to-earth guy, and that may be partly because of his devotion to his family. Murphy is married Yvonne McGuinness, an Irish artist known for her performance installations. The couple share two sons, Malachy and Aran, with whom they live in Dublin. Murphy made the decision to be at home as much as possible despite having a Hollywood job.

“I don’t need to live in Los Angeles,” he told People in 2005. “I’d be tremendously far away from my family—I’d never see them.”

Here’s everything to know about Cillian Murphy’s wife Yvonne McGuinness.

What does Yvonne McGuinness do?

McGuinness has a career in the visual arts and holds a master’s degree from the Royal College of Art in London. She says on her website that her installations incorporate “film, performance, sculptural and textile elements, sound, and writing.”

Many of them include performing, so she and Murphy have that practice in common.

She has also been in charge of the household while Murphy is traveling for work, which he has praised her for repeatedly.

For his hit show Peaky Blinders, Murphy has to move to Liverpool, where he lived “zero” life, per his interview with The Guardian.

“It’s cancelled life,” he explained. “You go home to your tiny apartment at the end of the day, and you feed yourself for sustenance and you learn the lines for the next day and you try to get as much sleep as you possibly can. Which isn’t much. And then you get up and do it again.”

Meanwhile, McGuinness was home waiting to welcome him back after filming and support him as he decompressed from the demanding schedule.

He told GQ in an interview, “That work-life balance thing is hard. I have an amazing wife and I couldn’t do this without her and her understanding. But it is a struggle…I think it is for any dad whose work takes him away, which it generally does, and which consumes him, which my work does.”

He also acknowledged McGuinness for keeping him grounded, even as he becomes a more high-profile actor.

“The fame thing was never a goal. I just want to improve,” Murphy told People. “If I can leave one film behind that’s something that affects somebody, that’s absolutely fine…it’s very important to have somebody like that [McGuinness]. My life hasn’t changed in any way, really. I still have the same friends, and we go to the same places.”

How did Murphy and McGuinness meet?

In the late 1990s, Murphy was cast in a play called Disco Pigs, which was first put up in Cork, Ireland. It ended up being a bit hit and went on to tour, first Dublin and London and then around the world for about 18 months. Murphy told The Guardian in 2016 that McGuinness was on tour with the group.

“That time, making Disco Pigs, was kind of the most important period of my life,” he explained. “The people I met there remain my closest friends … They shaped me in terms of my tastes, in terms of what I wanted to do with my life. And it was around the same time I met my wife. She came on tour with us. It was so exciting, 20 years ago or whatever it was—we were all just kids, trying to find our way—but such a special, special time.”

How long have Murphy and McGuinness been together?

The couple met in the late ’90s, but didn’t marry until 2004. They have two sons. Malachy was born in 2005, and Aran was born in 2007. He told the Guardian that he and McGuinness were able to be close to each other during her first pregnancy because he was filming The Wind that Shakes the Barley near his parent’s home in Cork.

“I was living at home with my folks, my wife was pregnant with our son, and we were running around the hills of west Cork shooting up Black and Tans. Fantastic!” he described.

At first, they raised the kids in London but decided to go back to Ireland in 2015 to be closer to family again.

“We wanted them to be Irish, I suppose,” he said. “It’s amazing how quickly their accents have adapted. Even within a year of moving back, they are fading into this rakish west Brit kind of thing. Which I think, hopefully, will get them lots of girls when they’re 15.”

He said in 2016 that he thinks his sons seem more confident than when he was a teen.

“I had bravado. But, deep down … I don’t know, they seem better adjusted than I was,” he explained. “More sure of themselves. I’m happy about that. For me, it was something that took a long time to figure out: that it’s all right to be you, that it’s all right to be an individual.”

Headshot of Aimée Lutkin

Aimée Lutkin is the weekend editor at ELLE.com. Her writing has appeared in Jezebel, Glamour, Marie Claire and more. Her first book, The Lonely Hunter, will be released by Dial Press in February 2022.

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