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Cillian Murphy to star as Oppenheimer in Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer

Murphy has appeared in five of Nolan's other movies, including all three parts of the Dark Knight trilogy

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Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

After years of casting him as villains, side characters, and occasionally even depriving him of a proper name—shout-out to Dunkirk’s “Shivering Soldier”—Christopher Nolan is apparently finally ready to give long-time collaborator Cillian Murphy a starring role in one of his movies. Deadline reports that the Peaky Blinders actor has now been set to star in Nolan’s upcoming Oppenheimer, where he’ll get to play the Oppenheimer, which has got to be a thrill.

Reports of Nolan’s latest have been circulating for a few months now, largely in the backdrop of his present unhappiness with frequent studio partner Warner Bros. A prolonged bidding war eventually landed the film at Universal, the first time Nolan has broken ranks with Warner since Memento, way back in 2000.


So far no plot details about Oppenheimer have slipped out, although we’re going to go ahead and venture a guess that it won’t be about the famous/infamous scientist discovering a late-life interest in peaceful backyard gardening. Really, the casting of Murphy is the biggest hint yet we’ve gotten yet about the film’s take on “the father of the atomic bomb,” suggesting that, whatever else he’s got going on, this version of the man will have nuclear-grade cheekbones and the kind of haunted, intense stare that makes that “I am become death, destroyer of worlds” stuff really and truly land.

Murphy is the first actor to come aboard the project, which is set to debut, as many Nolan movies have in the past, on July 21. (In 2023, in this case.) Nolan, per his particular fetishes, will be filming his nuke movie at least partially in IMAX, ensuring that the raw majesty and unfathomable power of Cillian Murphy’s face will be rendered at stadium-level sizes for audiences to weather. Nolan’s film is reportedly based on American Prometheus, the biography of Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2006.