Of course, Tommy isn’t the only member of the Shelby clan to have entered the conflict of World War I as one person and emerged as someone totally different. His older brother Arthur (Paul Anderson) similarly went through hell and back, carrying lifelong scars that take an immense toll on his behavior, mood, and general mental health in “Peaky Blinders.” Between the two, great care had to be taken in order to bring their actions to life as dramatically — and respectfully — as possible. According to Knight:
“The way that Cillian and Paul Anderson portray it is just so instinctive somehow. It’s not like, ‘Do this, do that, act like this, act like that’ — they just sort of get it. It’s an important part of the series. What I didn’t ever want to do is say, ‘OK, series 1 is about post-war trauma, series 2 is about something else.’ It carries on all through someone’s life.”
This ultimately paid off, though not just because of audience feedback about their incredible performances. No, it’s fair to say that input from actual veterans with firsthand experience made the biggest difference. Knight goes on to reveal, “A veteran from Afghanistan wrote a letter saying that Tommy’s experience spoke to him so profoundly. A few times people have written letters saying, ‘This really expresses how I feel,’ and that is so valuable.”
It goes to show that even the most heightened works of fiction can become unexpected sources of healing and representation. “Peaky Blinders” might be most well-known for hard-to-understand accents and plentiful violence, but instances like this prove there’s more than meets the eye. Stay tuned to /Film for updates on the forthcoming movie, as teased by the official “Peaky Blinders” Twitter account.