Cillian Murphy Says Hollywood Press Junkets Are Broken

Cillian Murphy is J. Robert Oppenheimer in OPPENHEIMER, written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. © 2023 Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Academy Award nominee Cillian Murphy said that Hollywood press junkets are broken as the actor’s own Oppenheimer press tour nears its end.

I get where the actor is coming from. It might not even be the filmmaker or talent themselves but the person doing the interview that impacts their own experience. I get his comments about the current model. It is a serious issue, perhaps one in need of reform. When someone is answering the same question over and over, it can be very boring. Murphy’s comments are in a recent GQ cover story.

“I think it’s a broken model,” he said of red-carpet interviews and junkets. Outdated and a drag for actors. “The model is—everybody is so bored.” Look what happened when they went on strike, he said. It all stopped. But the fact that the film was good, and Barbie was good, two at the same time, people going crazy—it just shows you don’t need it. “Same was the case with Peaky Blinders. The first three seasons there was no advertising, a tiny show on BBC Two; it just caught fire because people talked to each other about it.”

You might not necessarily need junkets for big films but smaller films likely benefit from them. The smaller films are where an outlet like mine can help introduce the film to a different audience. I’m an Orthodox Jewish transgender film journalist. It means having a following that someone probably doesn’t have. In all fairness, I’ve lost a good amount of my previous trans following due to speaking out against antisemitism since October. However, Jewish readership is still tuning in day in and day out. Even during the war, there are people looking to escape through entertainment. I know that I definitely have.

Depending on the film, I’m probably no longer doing red carpets at film festivals. They bunch you in with other journalists. As such, you do not get the quality interview that you get in a 1:1 opportunity. I’ve been on carpets where there’s always at least one journalist treating it like a podcast. Red carpet interviews should be no more than two minutes tops. If you’re doing a five minute interview on the carpet, it means other journalists will not get a quality interview, if they get an interview at all. In some instances, the stars might not even stop to talk, only talking to maybe half the carpet. I RSVP’d for the Bad Education red carpet during TIFF thinking it would be my only chance to interview Hugh Jackman. Unfortunately, he was out of town. Beyond that, I got bunched in with other journalists.

I know from personal experience that data is everything for online outlets in this industry. Half of your social media following might not even be active but one’s social media numbers are what matter at the end of the day. Trust me, I can have interviews declined at my own outlet while having them greenlit for another outlet. I wish things worked differently because there are questions I would love to ask if given an opportunity. Those opportunities never arrive because my outlet doesn’t get the traffic. Believe me, I would love to interview Adam Sandler, George Clooney, or Ryan Reynolds in a 1:1 conversation. My best opportunity is upon during an awards season press conference, if at all. This is I was able to interview Jennifer Lawrence for Don’t Look Up or George Clooney for The Midnight Sky.

It might not be the same but remember last year’s Oscars red carpet interview with Hugh Grant? In case you forgot, it was a disaster of epic proportions. Putting in the work would lead to better questions. Grant was barely even in Glass Onion but this did not prevent the film from being the major topic of conversation.

The 96th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 10, 2024, at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood and will be televised live on ABC and in more than 200 territories worldwide.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.