Cillian Murphy Is Officially Back for 28 Years Later — But There’s a Catch

The star of 28 Days Later will make a “surprising” appearance in the long-awaited sequel.

Cillian Murphy as Jim in 28 Days Later
Fox Searchlight Pictures

After two decades, 28 Days Later is finally getting the sequel it deserves — but it may not look or feel the way that anyone is expecting. Director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland are reuniting for 28 Years Later, a direct follow-up to the 2002 sci-fi horror that put the duo on the map. With Sony Pictures’ backing, the film it set to hit theaters in summer 2025. It’ll also set the stage for a new trilogy, and the studio is reportedly hoping to film the first two installments back-to-back.

Little else is known about the plot of 28 Years Later. An all-new cast has been quietly coming together for the past few months, with Jack O’Connell, Jodie Comer, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Ralph Fiennes joining the project. 28 Days Later star Cillian Murphy is reportedly attached as an executive producer — but according to Sony chairman Tom Rothman, his involvement won’t end there.

Rothman recently sat down with Deadline at the Cannes Film Festival, where he shared his enthusiasm for Sony’s upcoming slate. The exec has worked with Boyle for decades, so there’s naturally a lot of excitement about re-teaming for 28 Years Later. Rothman calls the project “Danny at his best, combined with a very commercial genre like we had with Edgar Wright and Baby Driver. Sometimes when you put a real signature director into a commercial arena, it elevates it.”

Naomie Harris and Cillian Murphy in 28 Days Later.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

The studio head also shared a few surprising updates regarding continuity. “It’s 28 Years Later, but not in any way a literal sequel,” Rothman says. That could be in reference to the franchise’s first sequel, 28 Weeks Later, which proved to be a disappointment for fans. Neither Boyle nor Garland were very involved with production on the film — more than that, 28 Weeks brought in an all-new cast to tell a loosely-connected story — so it’s safe to assume that 28 Years will retcon or even ignore the events of its predecessor.

Per Rothman, Murphy is also attached to reprise his 28 Days Later role. He’ll return “in a surprising way and in a way that grows,” the exec revealed. While that seems to confirm a streamlined continuity, 28 Years may take even more liberties with the franchise’s timeline.

In 28 Days, Murphy plays Jim, a courier who wakes up from a coma and finds himself in the midst of a viral epidemic. The character met a nebulous end, with his survival left up to interpretation. Will 28 Years reintroduce Jim as a shell-shocked survivor — or will he have succumbed to the virus that once ravaged the UK? Time will tell, but 28 Years Later will be working hard to subvert audience’s expectations.

28 Years Later opens in theaters on June 20, 2025.

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