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Cillian Murphy confirmed for lead role in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’

The 'Peaky Blinders' actor will play the figure who became known as the “father of the atomic bomb”

By Hollie Geraghty

Cillian Murphy
Cillian Murphy will portray J.Robert Oppenheimer (Picture: Alamy)

Cillian Murphy has been confirmed to play J. Robert Oppenheimer in Christopher Nolan’s new film about the famous American physicist.

With rumours about the pair collaborating again surfacing last month, Murphy has been officially confirmed to play the historical figure in ‘Oppenheimer’, which chronicles the life of the man who became known as the “father of the atomic bomb” for his involvement in the Manhattan Project.

The film marks the latest collaboration between Murphy and Nolan, having teamed up on five of the director’s previous films including ‘Dunkirk’, ‘Inception’ and ‘Batman Begins’.

Plot details are yet to be released, but Nolan’s script is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book ‘American Prometheus: The Triumph And Tragedy Of J. Robert Oppenheimer’ by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. 

The book charts Oppenheimer’s key role in the creation of atomic weapons and the complicated feelings he later developed over their destructive power, which saw him lobby for international control of nuclear power.

Other previous collaborators confirmed on the $100M picture include his wife and producer Emma Thomas, cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, editor Jennifer Lame and Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson.

The film found itself in the middle of a fierce bidding war with the likes of Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros, before going to Universal Pictures.

Most of Nolan’s previous films have been released with Warner Bros, but last year he criticised the studio for their plans to simultaneously stream releases on HBO Max.

Universal Filmed Entertainment Group Chairman Donna Langley said of the upcoming release: “Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas’ films have shattered the limits of what cinematic storytelling can achieve.

“We are thrilled to be working alongside them on this exceptional and extraordinary project and are grateful for their shared passion and commitment to the theatrical experience.”

Like many of Nolan’s releases, ‘Oppenheimer’ will be shot with IMAX cameras for a worldwide theatrical release.

Christopher Nolan’s last film ‘Tenet’ faced a rocky release journey, delayed multiple times due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The director also faced backlash over the film’s sound mixing, with audiences complaining that the $200M espionage sci-fi was unintelligible due to the overpowering sound mix.

It wasn’t the first time one of Nolan’s films had received this criticism, with fans raising the same issues for ‘Interstellar’, ‘The Dark Knight’, and ‘Interstellar’.

‘Oppenheimer’ is due to begin production in early 2022, slated for release on July 21, 2023.