Oppenheimer: Cillian Murphy Still "In Shock" That Christopher Nolan Cast Him in Lead Role

Last fall, it was announced that Cillian Murphy had been cast as J. Robert Oppenheimer in Christopher Nolan's next film, Oppenheimer. While it's far from the first time Murphy has worked with Nolan, as the actor has appeared in several of the filmmaker's projects including The Dark Knight, Inception, and Dunkirk, it's the first time Murphy's played the lead in a Nolan film. It's something that Murphy says he's still in shock over while also being thrilled about the 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 (via Screen Rant). "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."

Murphy's correct in that it is a "huge" part. Oppenheimer was a theoretical physicist who was the head of the Los Alamos Laboratory and is among those credited as being "the father of the atomic bomb" for his role in the Manhattan Project, the World War II project that developed the first nuclear weapons. The weapons created by the Manhattan Project were used in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. In Nolan's film, which the filmmaker reportedly wrote the script for in addition to directing, Murphy is joined by Emily Blunt as Oppenheimer's wife Katherine Vissering Oppenheimer, Florence Pugh as Jean Tatlock, a member of the Communist Party of the United States who had an affair with Oppenheimer, and Benny Safdie as Edward Teller, a member of the Manhattan Project considered to be "the father of the hydrogen bomb". Josh Hartnett, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., and Rami Malek are also set to star. The film is based on Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin's Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J Robert Oppenheimer.

The film will be Nolan's first since the end of his decades-long relationship with Warner Bros. It has been reported that Nolan's deal with Universal gives him total creative control of the film, a $100 million budget with an equal amount to be spent on marketing, 20 percent of the first-dollar gross, a guaranteed theatrical window of 100 days, and reportedly a blackout period where the studio will not release any other movies in the three weeks preceding and following Oppenheimer's release.

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Oppenheimer currently has a release date of July 21, 2023.