These days, every new Christopher Nolan movie is an occasion, and his upcoming project is no exception. As such, it is pretty darn exciting to finally get a look at actor Cillian Murphy as the title character in Nolan’s forthcoming movie Oppenheimer. In an Instagram post from The Hollywood Reporter, we finally see Murphy in character as J. Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist often known as “father of the atomic bomb. The shot is a black and white deep focus photograph of Murphy, a lit cigarette jutting out of his mouth at an angle that could be described as “melancholy” and wearing a wide-brimmed fedora. Suitable for a man who described his life’s work as “the destroyer of worlds,” his expression is ambiguous. Check it out here:
This will be the sixth movie that pairs up Cillian Murphy with director Christopher Nolan, and the first to feature him as the lead. The two began their collaboration with 2005’s Batman Begins, where Murphy played the Gothamite villain The Scarecrow aka Dr. Jonathan Crane. He would reprise the role in both The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, bringing an oddly humorous take on a comic book character known primarily for utilizing chemically induced fear as a weapon.
He also appeared in 2010’s Inception as Robert Fischer, the heir to an industrial fortune targeted by Leonardo DiCaprio’s group of dream-inducing criminals. More recently, he popped into the 2017 Nolan film Dunkirk in the iconic role of “Shivering Soldier;” to be fair, that movie is less about characterization and Nolan’s examination of the sheer impact of World War II’s Dunkirk evacuation on human lives. Cillian Murphy has also stated that he is willing to show up for any size of a role in Nolan’s work, and he certainly seems to be standing by that.
Oppenheimer will certainly feature Cillian Murphy in a much more prominent role than Shivering Soldier. The movie is adapted from American Prometheus, a biography of the historical figure by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. Oppenheimer himself most famously was in charge of the Los Alamos Laboratory during WWII, where the first atomic weapon was developed under the code name “The Manhattan Project.” He spent much of the rest of his life working to limit the dangers of nuclear proliferation and the ongoing arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Eventually, he became the target of anti-Communist political attacks, which resulted in his security clearance being revoked and his public reputation heavily tarnished. Although he was later honored by several US Presidents, it was a pretty tumultuous ride for a person in charge of one of the most significant scientific developments of the 20th century.
Aside from Cillian Murphy as the title character, Oppenheimer will star an ensemble that includes Robert Downey Jr, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon and many others. Reports have it that Nolan is already working on a follow up, perhaps to feature one Keanu Reeves. Oppenheimer is set to release in theaters July 21.