Cillian Murphy hung up the phone in shock when Christopher Nolan called to tell him about his new movie, “Oppenheimer,” that day. Despite being a regular in Nolan’s films for almost two decades, the Irish actor had always played a supporting role. Nolan wanted him to take charge this time. Nolan said, “Listen, I wrote this script; it’s about Oppenheimer, I want you to be my Oppenheimer,” he told Cillian Murphy
There is never a dull moment for Murphy when Nolan calls. “It’s challenging to even try to predict whether he will. He is aware of which films are appropriate for him and which ones are not. I’ve always been clear with Chris that if you need me for a movie and I’m available, I’ll be there, both in public and privately. I don’t really care about the size of the part,” he said. “However, I had a secret desire to play lead for him,” he later added
Cillian Murphy was on Nolan’s casting list for over a decade
In 2003, Murphy and Nolan first spoke. He was brought in to perform a character screen test for Batman, not just the movie. Although Murphy was aware that he wasn’t the appropriate candidate for The Dark Knight, he still wanted to meet the director of “Insomnia” and “Memento.” They got along, and The character of the evil psychiatrist Dr. Crane/Scarecrow, who would subsequently appear in all three films, provided Murphy with the chance to channel his nasty energies.
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Murphy would also play a troubled business empire’s heir in Nolan’s “Inception” and a traumatized soldier in “Dunkirk.” We have a history of mutual regard, trust, and understanding, according to Murphy. The timing seemed perfect to assume a greater duty. It just so happened to be a large one as well. In September 2020, soon after the phone call, Nolan took a flight to Dublin to meet Murphy and give him a physical copy of the script, which Murphy promptly devoured in Nolan’s hotel room. He deemed it to be the best book he had ever read.
Christopher Nolan made Oppenheimer’s Backstory and Plot
The magnitude of it then became apparent. The charismatic and contentious theoretical scientist who contributed to the development of the atomic bomb would be the subject of this movie. On July 16, 1945, Oppenheimer and his colleagues at Los Alamos would test it without knowing what would happen. Then, a few weeks later, the US dropped those bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing tens of thousands of people and injuring many others for the rest of their lives.
“Like it or not, J. Robert Oppenheimer is the most significant person to have ever lived”, as Nolan declared last week in Las Vegas. With a star-studded cast, “Oppenheimer,” which hits theatres on July 21, includes Emily Blunt as Oppenheimer’s wife Kitty, Matt Damon as Leslie Groves Jr., Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss, Gary Oldman as Harry S. Truman, and many more who round out the important figures in and around this tense period in history.
‘An enormous responsibility..’ said Cillian Murphy
“You understand what an enormous responsibility this is. He was convoluted, contradictory, and so recognizable,” remarked Murphy. “But you are aware that you are working with a legendary filmmaker. Chris and I entered it with confidence. He has had a big impact on both my artistic and professional lives. He’s given me several really interesting roles to portray, all of which I’ve found to be really challenging. I also truly enjoy being on his sets,” added Murphy
“Any actor would want to be on a Chris Nolan set, just to see how it works and to witness his command of the language of film and the mechanics of film,” Murphy continued. “He is able to create these extremely difficult human stories using the large canvas provided by the mainstream studio system.”
Murphy has learned to appreciate the fact that there is always more to Nolan’s work than what is immediately apparent from the page. His role didn’t have much to do in “Dunkirk,” which had only 70 pages, not even a name. ‘Look, let’s work it out together and you and I can discover an emotional journey for the character,’ he suggested. And we succeeded.
Nolan’s ‘Secret Approach’
As with every Nolan project, “Oppenheimer” must be kept a secret. The “old-fashioned approach” that raises curiosity and anticipation is Murphy’s favorite.
But “Oppenheimer” differs from other Nolan originals in that this is grounded on historical reality. The Pulitzer Prize-winning book that served as its inspiration, “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer,” was written by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. The Criterion Channel has the 1981 film “The Day After Trinity” available for viewing.
You can also try to decipher Nolan’s statements for hints. He discussed replicating the Trinity Test, the intriguing paradoxes, the twists and turns, the moral quandaries, and how the story is like a dream or a nightmare. But in the end, it’s just something that needs to be seen.
How Chris presents it will be the question, Murphy added. “I believe what he achieves will astound and surprise people. When contrasted to viewing this in an IMAX theatre, whatever I say will just seem a little silly. Discussions will take place after the release of the film. When we are able to converse openly, there is a great deal to discuss, Murphy added.
Releasing in theatres on the 21st of July
He did admit that they put a lot of effort into perfecting Oppenheimer’s appearance, down to the pipe and porkpie hat. He claimed that the individual “seemed aware of his own potential mythology.” But once more, those discussions will have to wait.
“I’m incredibly proud of Chris’ accomplishments and the movie as a whole. This was undoubtedly a unique one, no doubt as a result of the history between Chris and me. Even though we weren’t high-fiving each other all over the set, it felt special. McGurgan said. Every time he releases a movie, it’s a big deal, and rightfully so. I regularly see his films, whether or not I’m in them.
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