“What if you could un-invent an awful technology?”
The highly acclaimed director Christopher Nolan asked himself this question while developing his 2020 film, Tenet. This question continued to haunt Nolan as he was presented with a book of J. Robert Oppenheimer’s speeches by Robert Pattinson. The book inspired Nolan to pursue a biopic project based on Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’s American Prometheus, a biography on the inventor of the nuclear weapon, J. Robert Oppenheimer.
During World War II, Oppenheimer and a group of scientists working on the Manhattan Project invented the most powerful and destructive weapon in human history. In their mind, they were building something to protect their humanity, but it will end up as a looming threat to the mere existence of humans on earth. Christopher Nolan was intrigued by what goes into a man’s mind who decides to create such an awful technology and introduce it to the world.
Inspired by American Prometheus, Oppenheimer is a thriller biopic film told from the subjective perspective of J. Robert Oppenheimer about the events that led to the invention of the nuclear weapon in 1945. As is all of Nolan’s films, we expect Oppenheimer to be an epic film filled with stunning shots that capture the heart and soul of viewers. With such a sensitive plot, a controversial main character, an A-list group of actors and a brilliant director, Oppenheimer is set to become one of 2023’s biggest films.
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Some Historical Context
Before we start talking about Christopher Nolan’s upcoming film, it is only fitting that we give you a bit of historical background on who the movie is about. The film being an adaption of a biography means it covers real events with real people. When watching movies like this, it is extremely important that you have at least a brief background on what happened and who the people you’re watching on the screen are.
Movies take creative liberties and would change some events to serve the dramatic retelling of the story. As a viewer, you need to learn to differentiate between what really happened and what only serves the drama. So before we dive into Nolan’s epic project, let’s learn a bit about the real J. Robert Oppenheimer.
“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
These words from a Hindu scripture were what came to Oppenheimer’s mind as he observed the Trinity test, the first test of the detonation of the nuclear bomb. J. Robert Oppenheimer was an American theoretical physicist who was a lead scientist in the Manhattan Project during World War II. The Manhatten Project was an active research and development project from 1942 to 1946. Its main objective was to create nuclear weapons to help the Allied Forces win the war against the Nazis and their allies.
Oppenheimer was the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, where he and his team developed the nuclear bomb in July 1945. One month later, in August 1945, the nuclear bomb was used for the first and last time to bomb the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, causing unprecedented death and destruction. A rough estimate of 110,000 people died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki due to the nuclear bombing. The horrible effect of the bomb did not stop with its detonation, though. By the end of 1945, more than 140,000 people were dead due to the side effects of the radiation.
When the war ended, Oppenheimer was one of the people who lobbied for international control of nuclear weapons and opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb. His stance led to the revocation of his security clearances and political power. The U.S. government only reaffirmed his loyalties fifty-five years after he died in 2022.
Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer
Reading American Prometheus and the book of Oppenheimer quotes he was given as a gift, Christopher Nolan had his eyes set on his next film—a biographical thriller that will tell the story of the father of the nuclear weapon through his own eyes. Not just dealing with the creation of the bomb and its consequences on the war, politics and humanity as a whole, but its consequences on Oppenheimer’s personal and intimate life.
In 2021 as Nolan was beginning to develop his project, Warner Bros decided that all its upcoming 2021 movies will be released in theatres and on streaming on HBO Max simultaneously. This decision by the production company results in Nolan severing his relationship with Warner Bros and, for the first time, finding another production company for his upcoming project. Oppenheimer finds its home with Universal, and production on the movie started in 2022.
In an interview, Christopher Nolan said that while writing Oppenheimer, he knew immediately who he wanted to cast as the title role. Nolan and Cillian Murphy have previously worked together on six projects, and this time, Nolan decided that he was finally ready to give Murphy his first leading role in a project of his.
With Cillian Murphy as the lead character, the only thing left was to find a group of strong actors who could play the supporting characters in Murphy’s Oppenheimer. As Nolan’s habit, he does not disappoint. Convincing Emily Blunt, Robert Downy Jr., Matt Damon and Florence Pugh to join his cast, Nolan now has an epic story to tell supported by an equally epic cast to tell it.
The Cast of Oppenheimer
You do not say no when Christopher Nolan asks you to be in his movie. Nolan has proved himself as one of Hollywood’s best and most creative directors, and almost every actor in the business wants to have the chance to work with him. No role is a small role in a Nolan movie, and when one is invited to take part, they know it will surely be an experience of a lifetime.
That is why A-list actors such as Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr. and Matt Damon agreed to take pay cuts just to be in Nolan’s Oppenheimer. With a project of such calibre, what are a few million short in salary compared to the opportunity to witness magic?
Now that we know about Nolan’s film, let’s meet the brilliant actors who will bring it to life this July!
Our own Oppenheimer and the lead actor in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming film. Oppenheimer will be the sixth collaboration between Nolana and Cillian Murphy after they worked together on The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception and Dunkirk. As longtime collaborators, no one fits the role of Oppenheimer like the brilliant Cillian Murphy.
Cillian Murphy is an Irish actor who got his big break on the BBC’s Peaky Blinders. He played the lead role of Thommy Shelby from 2013 to 2022. Peaky Blinders earned Murphy great popularity worldwide, as well as BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations.
Cillian is a very private person who does not particularly enjoy press tours and Hollywood life. However, he did express his excitement to finally play a lead role in a Nolan film and how he has been looking forward to this day since the first time he worked with Christopher Nolan.
A Golden Globe and SAG award-winning actress, Emily Blunt is a powerhouse not to be trifled with. Blunt is a British actress who became popular after her classic role as Emily in The Devil Wears Prada, opposite Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway. She went on to have a marvellous career full of diverse films, such as Edge of Tomorrow, Into the Woods, Mary Poppins Returns and A Quiet Place.
Oppenheimer is Emily Blunt’s first time working with Christopher Nolan. Blunt plays the role of Katherin “Kitty” Oppenheimer, J. Robot Oppenheimer’s wife. Kitty Oppenheimer was a botanist, a communist and the wife of a powerful man. Kitty worked at the Manhatten project beside her husband, assessing the danger of the atomic bomb.
Emily Blunt talked in interviews about how excited she is to be able to tell Kitty’s story from a different perspective and shed light on the important work she did as well as her private life with Oppenheimer.
Robert Downey Jr.
After ten years of playing a superhero, Robert Downey Jr. is practising different muscles as he portrays Lewis Strauss in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer.
Robert Downey Jr. is an American actor and a powerhouse who lead the Marvel Cinematic Universe for ten years as Iron Man from 2008 to 2018. Besides his epic role as Tony Stark, RDJ worked on several other movies, including Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Tropic Thunder, Zodiac and Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes. Robert Downy Jr. has won three Golden Globe Awards, one SAG Award and one BAFTA Award.
Robert Downey Jr. plays Lewis Strauss in Nolan’s upcoming movie. He was a prominent figure in American history and the man who opposed Oppenherime’s suggestion of international control of nuclear weapons as he believed American secrets should be kept in the U.S. According to RDJ, playing Strauss has been a great challenge for him. He believes that it is the best acting role he has ever played.
An Academy Award-winning actor, Matt Damon joined the cast of Oppenheimer as his second project with Christopher Nolan after his role in Interstellar with Matthew McConaughey.
Matt Damon is a multiple award-winning actor who started his career in 1988 and became one of Hollywood’s highest-grossing actors. Throughout his career, he participated in many movies, including the Oceans trilogy, Saving Private Ryan, The Departed, True Grit and his Golden Globe-winning role in Ridley Scott’s The Martian.
In Oppenheimer, Matt Damon plays the role of Lieutenant General Leslie Groves, the director of the Manhattan Project and an ally of Oppenheimer.
She is the youngest of the Oppenheimer cast but does not take her lightly, as Ms Flo is a Hollywood star that has proven herself to be a strong actress in the past couple of years.
Florence Pugh is a British actress who gained recognition for her leading role in Lady Macbeth in 2016. Since then, Pugh has played one powerful role after the other. She led the physiological horror film Midsommer and played the Academy Award-nominated role of Amy March in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. She joined the MCU in 2021 as Yelena Belova in Black Widow and will be playing the role of Princess Irulan in Dune: Part Two later this year.
Florence portrays the role of Jean Tatlock, Robert Oppenheimer’s longtime girlfriend. She was a constant figure in his life even after marrying Kitty. Their age difference has always been a subject of conversation and will be discussed during the film along with their intimate affair.
When and Where to See Oppenheimer?
Oppenheimer will be coming to theatres worldwide on 21 July 2023. Yes, the same day as Greta Gerwig’s Barbie! Many moviegoers talked about watching a double feature that day and dubbed the event Barbienheimer. Even the cast of both movies has encouraged people to see both on the same day, saying they will do the same!
As with many of Christopher Nolan’s films, the movie is set to be a visual masterpiece. The film used a combination of IMAX 65 mm and 65 mm large-format film, and we would recommend finding the biggest and best screen to watch Oppenheimer in its full glory.
Tickets for the film are on sale now in many theatres, and the film will release on Friday 21 July.
We’re sure this movie will be a fantastic experience for Nolan fans and those who are yet to become fans. Pair it with a bit of pink Barbie magic and enjoy a day celebrating the magic of cinema in all its colours and genres. Promos might have stopped for Oppenheimer because of the WGA and SAG-Aftra strikes, but we’re already hyped enough to see Nolan’s magic on the screen!