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Cillian Murphy examines the spiritual debates of “Red Lights”


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When fans go to see “Red Lights” — the latest movie from “Buried” director Rodrigo Cortes — it’s not going to be what they expect. In fact, the less you know about the movie, the better. That being said, the film deals with the continual debate between believers and skeptics and the journey to discover whether special abilities like supernatural presences, psychic powers and super hero skills actually exist.

But the real draw to the film for lead actor Cillian Murphy was the chance to explore a character like his Tom Buckley and to go on a surprisingly surprising journey with him. IFC caught up with Murphy at the press day for “Red Lights” last month, and he talked about why he knew he wanted to join “Red Lights.”

“It was just a great piece of writing. It was a great script,” he said of Cortes’ story. “You read a lot of scripts and it’s always refreshing and encouraging when you can’t predict where they’re going to go. It was always surprising, the story was, the script and the character, and he goes on a really, really big journey, this character, and the challenge of trying to convey that in an honest way and in such a way that the audience would invest in him and go with him on the journey, that was the challenge really for me.”

It only helped that he was taking this cinematic trip with a group of actors who he describes as “legends.” Sigourney Weaver plays Margaret Matheson, a doctor who investigates and refutes supposed paranormal happenings, while Robert De Niro portrays Simon Silver, a psychic/evangelist who is the one man she was never able to prove was a fake. Elizabeth Olsen and Toby Jones round out the cast as one of Matheson’s students and a fellow professor at her school, respectively, though Jones’s professor is one whose goal is prove that special abilities really do exist.

Murphy appears in just about every frame of “Red Lights,” so he got a chance to work opposite these actors as they played roles we don’t typically see them in. De Niro in particular was as terrifying as we’ve seen him in recent years, and Murphy gushed that just getting to shoot the same scene with him and Weaver helped him in his own career.

“You get a chance to actually work with them and to observe them and to watch them act was, for me, I’ll never ever forget that,” he said. “You can’t sort of underestimate the influence those guys have had on my career and their movies, so it was huge for me.”

Of course, Murphy is an esteemed actor in his own right. Best known for his roles in “28 Days Later,” “Batman Begins” and “Sunshine,” Murphy has been in many movies that examine the constant struggle between people who are skeptics and those who are believers. That is a conflict that is at the center of “Red Lights,” and we asked him why he thinks this is something people are so invested in.

“It is sort of an endless debate, isn’t it? They seem to be kind of exclusive, I guess, to each other,” he said. “I did another movie that was kind of similar in theme to that before, so I had read a lot about it.”

But that debate is not what he thinks the movie is about. “For me, even though [the movie is] in that world of like skeptics and believers and scientists and people who claim to have paranormal abilities, for me it was really a character study and self-acceptance and obsession,” Murphy said. “Those were the main sort of driving forces psychologically for me that I wanted to explore with the character because they are universal. This other world is interesting and exciting, but the human story of it, which is Tom’s story, is the one that I really concentrated on.”

So what does he want people to know about the movie going in, when we argue that people should know as little about it as possible?

“I think it’s unexpected, it’s original, it seems to have gotten a lot of people talking, and people seem to have very personal, very subjective interpretations of it,” he said carefully. “I think each one is valid, and people are really trying to figure out. And some people look at it in a very sort of logical way and some people look at it in a very abstract way, some people look at in a very spiritual way, and that’s the beauty of it. It doesn’t prescribe answers, it asks you to ask questions.”

“Red Lights” hits theaters on July 13 in limited release.

Are you intrigued by movies that you shouldn’t know much about going in? Are you planning on checking out “Red Lights”? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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