‘Oppenheimer’ Star Cillian Murphy Opens Up About Role

by Allison Hambrick

Oppenheimer actor Cillian Murphy discussed taking on the true story of J. Robert Oppenheimer in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming WWII film. Of course, Oppenheimer was a theoretical physicist, who aided in the Manhattan Project to develop the first nuclear weapons.

“I’ll always turn up for Chris, whatever the size of the part,” Murphy told The Guardian. “Chris will call me up and I’m there. Isn’t it wonderful that filmmakers are still making challenging, demanding films within the studio system, shot on film rather than Imax? I think he’s flying the flag. Him, Paul Thomas Anderson and Quentin Tarantino, are fantastic filmmakers making interesting work on a massive scale.”

Oppenheimer will be the sixth collaboration between Nolan and Murphy. The actor has starred in five previous films directed by Nolan: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, and Dunkirk. While his roles have varied in function, size, and relevance, Murphy seems to be Nolan’s good luck charm; all of those films are among his most successful both critically and commercially.

As for how Murphy prepared to take on such a heavy role, the actor focused on research. Oppenheimer primarily based its story on American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, so he started there.

“[I’m doing] an awful lot of reading,” Murphy said. “I’m interested in the man and what [inventing the atomic bomb] does to the individual. The mechanics of it, that’s not really for me – I don’t have the intellectual capability to understand them, but these contradictory characters are fascinating. Tommy Shelby’s [from Peaky Blinders] a complete contradiction, too. People identify with that, because we all walk around with these contradictory ideas coexisting in our heads.”

Oppenheimer: Everything to Know About the Christopher Nolan Film

In addition to Murphy, Oppenheimer features a star-studded cast. The film stars such actors as Kenneth Branagh, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Florence Pugh, Alden Ehrenreich, Robert Downey Jr., and Rami Malek. Since Nolan ended his two decade partnership with Warner Bros., Oppenheimer will be released by Universal Pictures.

As with most of his films, Nolan’s latest boasts a hefty budget–$100 million, to be exact. While it is uncommon for original films to receive this big of a budget, Nolan’s films consistently dominate the box office. Universal likely sees the writing on the wall that Oppenheimer will likely make back its production costs and then some.

Recently, Universal shared the first look at Murphy in character as J. Robert Oppenheimer. The film is described as an “epic thriller that thrusts audiences into the pulse-pounding paradox of the enigmatic man who must risk destroying the world in order to save it.”

Oppenheimer will release on July 21, 2023.