What is it about Christopher Nolan that lets him put together so many unbelievably star-studded casts? Is it because he’s one of the most popular and successful filmmakers working today, capable of carrying a superhero movie-like following even when he doesn’t make superhero movies anymore? Yes, probably.
We already knew that his upcoming World War II drama Oppenheimer about the development of the atomic bomb would star Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Cillian Murphy, and Emily Blunt, but now The Hollywood Reporter says he’s also throwing in Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, and Uncut Gems co-director Benny Safdie. Just let us check our notes and… Yep, that’s all of the famous people. Every last one.
Murphy is playing J. Robert Oppenheimer, Blunt is playing his wife Katherine Oppenheimer, Damon is Manhattan Project director Lt. Gen. Leslie Groves, and Downey is Atomic Energy Commission chairman Lewis Strauss. As for the newcomers to the cast, Pugh is psychiatrist and Communist Jean Tatlock (who had an affair with Oppenheimer), Safdie is physicist Edward Teller (“the father of the hydrogen bomb”), and Malek is “playing a scientist.”
Yes, Academy Award winner Rami Malek does not get a character name or any details. Is it possible he’s just some guy in the background, hemming and hawing over atoms while Oppenheimer is smashing them together to make explosions? Is that how an atomic bomb works? It’s possible that Malek is so eager to work with Nolan that he’s just like “yeah, give me a lab coat and I’ll do anything,” or maybe there’s… some kind of twist?
No, it’s more likely that THR just doesn’t know who Malek is playing, or maybe it’s the reverse and Nolan was so eager to work with Malek that he was like “we’ll figure out who you’re playing later.”
Oppenheimer will be in movie theaters—and only movie theaters, barring some truly inexplicable turn for Nolan—on July 21, 2023. That’s plenty of time for Nolan to Google “other names of scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project.”