Playing Arthur Shelby in 'Peaky Blinders' might just see actor Paul Anderson being typecast as the antihero in future
Paul Anderson's Arthur Shelby, who is the eldest son of the infamous Shelby family, on BBC One's 'Peaky Blinders' is nothing less than a cult character. With his frequent violent outbursts, his recurring reliance on cocaine and his tremendous but foolish love for his younger brothers, he has become quite a symbol on the show. Anderson himself had mastered the Birmingham accent for his character and fans absolutely love the man whom they often refer to as "Artie Boy". However, with a character that strong and whose impact on TV might linger way after the show comes to an end, Anderson has perhaps stepped into the territory of being typecast.
Hollywood, at the moment, is filled with such actors. On one hand, there is Helena Bonham Carter who seems to have become Tim Burton's go-to girl as she has every now and then portrayed some completely insane characters for the director. In fact, when it came to the 'Harry Potter' film series, her portrayal of Bellatrix Lestrange almost became a defining moment in her life. On the other hand, there is Woody Allen who will forever be Hollywood's favorite neurotic sex-obsessed intellectual. Although the credibility lies in the actor's hands since there are some roles which they have played so well that no one could have done it better, sometimes getting typecast might just limit their options.
Anderson's role as Arthur Shelby might just see him get typecast. In an interview, the actor has confessed he fears his phone might just stop ringing someday. He said, "You always have that insecurity as an actor - will I do anything again? It’s always there." The Kennington, South London native actor, however, has given us a wide view of his range of acting skills through this one character. Over the last four seasons, Arthur has gone from being a habitual murderer to a cocaine addict, to a seemingly loving husband, to a depressed brother, and finally a rather caring father. Although Arthur was supposed to have been the patriarch of the Shelby family, his unstable lifestyle led him to become a supporting factor.
Yet 'Peaky Blinders' would have completely lost its sense of insanity had it not been for this one character, and let's just applaud Anderson's portrayal of Arthur. Fans have every now and then praised Anderson for his ability to make the otherwise "dumb-shit" character absolutely lovable, and we did get a glimpse of his convincing acting skills when he appeared on 'The Revenant'. The Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art graduate was one of the many European actors whom González Iñárritu hunted out from the other side of the sea. Anderson had explained, "And Alejandro is, without a doubt, one of the best directors I've ever worked with, and the reason I say that is because I was fortunate enough to see some of the movie – he showed Tom [Hardy] and me 15 minutes of the film. It was a way of thanking us, or of saying to us, ‘Look, the hard work, this is what it's been about.’ We watched it and honestly, Tom and I, we just looked at each other and were like, ‘Looks good. Seriously does look good.’”
While his chemistry with Tom Hardy in the movie was quite spectacular, the actors carried on the same- let's say bromance- in 'Peaky Blinders' as the two arch-enemies, Arthur and Alfie Solomons. While on one hand, Arthur was the headstrong man who was easy to manipulate, Alfie was the manipulator himself. However, they shared a strange relationship where, in spite of their mutual hatred for one another, Alfie always supported Arthur and sometimes even played the part of the older brother that Arthur is supposed to be. In Season 3, Alfie literally treats Arthur with some extremely sweet words as he tries to convince him to forgive him in front of the true patriarch of the family, Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy).
This was also the scene where the actors gradually became friends as Anderson explained, "I think we became friends in the scene. We played around and we ad-libbed and surprised each other slightly with some of the improv that we were doing. I instantly just fell in love with him, basically, is the short of it. And he felt the same way and we’ve remained friends ever since." While on one hand, Anderson was playing the role of a furiously charged Arthur, on the other hand, his character was gradually becoming the show's most sought-after character. Fans have taken a quick liking for the character since Arthur is perhaps the only simple-minded character, with some raw emotions, on the show.
Watch the fan tribute below to see the extent of Arthur's impact in the show:
While his brother, Thomas, and his aunt Polly Grey (Helen McCrory), have been two of the most complex characters in the already complicated storyline, Arthur is the only grounded one on the show. He is not as sly or wily as his brother and aunt, he is only like a pawn who is sent off to war first, in order to kill the first line of the battalion. Arthur is the symbol of the damaged man who sees no hope in the post-Great War England unless somebody comes and tells him that things are going fine. His use of gritty dialogue, his loose gait, and Arthur's most symbolic way of saying "Fooking" have made him the most lovable cult character on 'Peaky Blinders' which is set to return with Season 5 on BBC One this spring.