As Christopher Nolan prepares to undertake his ambitious biopic of J. Robert Oppenheimer this year, the production has released a first-look image of leading man Cillian Murphy as the famed scientific mind behind the atomic bomb (see above) – and the resemblance is uncanny (see below).
“I’m interested in the man and what [inventing the atomic bomb] does to the individual,” Cillian Murphy, who has apparently been doing “an awful lot of reading,” tells The Guardian.
“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 a complete contradiction, too. People identify with that because we all walk around with these contradictory ideas coexisting in our heads.”
Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer written by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, the film will obviously depict the Father of the Atom Bomb’s story. More specifically, Oppenheimer’s role in developing the first nuclear weapon with the Manhattan Project during World War II.
In the months since we last reported about it, the Oppenheimer cast has swelled in both numbers and star power. By all accounts, we’re in for an A-list affair. Expect appearances from Robert Downey Jr as the influential multi-hyphenate Lewis Strauss, Matt Damon as Lieutenant General Leslie Groves, Emily Blunt as biologist/botanist/wife Katherine “Kitty” Oppenheimer, Florence Pugh as psychiatrist/physician Jean Tatlock, Benny Safdie as physicist Edward Teller, Josh Hartnett as nuclear scientist Ernest Lawrence; as well as Kenneth Branagh, Rami Malek, Dane DeHaan, Jack Quaid, Matthew Modine, Alden Ehrenreich, and David Krumholtz in yet-to-be-disclosed roles.
Beyond Cillian Murphy (The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, Dunkirk), Matt Damon (Interstellar), and Kenneth Branagh (Tenet), Nolan is also reuniting with the following:
- Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema (Interstellar, Dunkirk, Tenet)
- Editor Jennifer Lame (Tenet; plus some non-Nolan titles such as Manchester by the Sea, Hereditary, Midsommar, Marriage Story, Judas & the Black Messiah)
- Composer Ludwig Goransson (Tenet; also Creed, Black Panther, Childish Gambino’s entire discography)
- as well as wife/producing partner Emma Thomas & Altas Entertainment’s Charles Roven
“I’ll always turn up for [Christoher Nolan], whatever the size of the part. Chris will call me up and I’m there,” adds the Peaky Blinders actor.
“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.”
The biggest bombshell dropped in earlier reportage surrounding Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer wasn’t the film itself nor the casting of Cillian Murphy. It was which studio he’d partner with.
Up until recently, the high-concept director had maintained an extremely healthy + profitable relationship with Warner Bros, producing every one of his films under its banner since Insomnia (2002) starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams. After their marriage deteriorated in an extremely public fashion, however – and following a very intense bidding war – Christopher Nolan departed for a new home at Universal, which happily met the auteur’s list of demands.
Here’s the list of the topline requests Christopher Nolan will receive from Universal (all sums in USD):
- $100 million production budget
- $100 million marketing budget
- 20% of the first-dollar box office gross
- Total creative control
- 100-day threatrical run (minimum)
- Additonally, the studio will not release another movie three weeks before or three weeks after his next film hits cinemas (what’s known as a “blackout period”)
“It wasn’t a negotiation,” writes Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter.
“It was, rather, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to establish a relationship with one of the most successful and acclaimed filmmakers of the 21st century.”
Oppenheimer will, of course, also be produced under Nolan’s banner Syncopy, of which he jointly helms with Emma Thomas. Production is slated to kick off in earnest sometime in the coming months.
Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer starring Cillian Murphy is currently scheduled for release on July 21st of 2023 – the annual slot typically saved for a Nolan flick, roughly two weeks before the anniversary of Hiroshima – stay tuned for more details.