Cillian Murphy Refused Science Lessons For Oppenheimer: 'That's Not Really For Me'

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Cillian Murphy plays the titular theoretical physicist in Christopher Nolan's upcoming J. Robert Oppenheimer biopic, Oppenheimer. Despite the fact that Oppenheimer's world-changing scientific work is at the heart of the film's plot, Murphy said that he isn't taking any science classes in preparation for the role.

Cillian Murphy Turned Down Oppenheimer Science Lessons

To get inside the heads of their characters, actors conduct extensive research. Murphy, however, is more interested in Oppenheimer's relationship with his job than in the science itself.

“[I did] an awful lot of reading,” he told The Guardian. “I’m interested in the man and what [inventing the atomic bomb] does to the individual. The mechanics of it, that’s not really for me.”

“I don’t have the intellectual capability to understand them,” Murphy added. “But these contradictory characters are fascinating — people identify with that because we all walk around with these contradictory ideas coexisting in our heads.”

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J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Father of the Atomic Bomb

Oppenheimer is based on the biography American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. It covers the story of Oppenheimer, the world-renowned scientist known as the "father of the atomic bomb," who was instrumental in the Manhattan Project and the development of the first nuclear weapons during World War II.

Nolan is the writer, producer, and director. Murphy plays Oppenheimer, and Emily Blunt plays his scientist wife, Kitty. Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, Josh Hartnett, Dennis Quaid, Matthew Modine, and Kenneth Branagh make up the rest of the stellar cast.

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Cillian Murphy’s Sixth Film With Christopher Nolan

The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, and Dunkirk are just a few of the projects Murphy and Nolan have collaborated on. Oppenheimer is their sixth collaboration.

Murphy expressed his admiration for Nolan's approach and vision in an interview with The Guardian. He also mentioned how much he enjoys working with the director.

“I’ll always turn up for Chris, whatever the size of the part,” Murphy said.

Murphy has previously appeared in Nolan's films as a supporting actor. So he was shocked when the director cast him as the lead role.

”It’s the first time he’s cast me in a lead, which I’m still a bit in shock about, but I’m thrilled,” Murphy told Esquire. “It’s a huge part and a lot of work. But in my estimation, you’re working with one of the greatest living directors, so you’re in safe hands.”

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Oppenheimer started filming in February 2022. The movie is set to hit theaters in the summer of 2023.


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