Batman Director’s First Oppenheimer Trailer Delivers Atomic Energy

Cillian Murphy stars as the titular physicist in the trailer for Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer.

By Jessica Scott | Updated

cillian murphy

The official trailer for Christopher Nolan’s thriller, Oppenheimer, has just dropped – and it is epic. Cillian Murphy stars as Robert J. Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist who is known as the “father of the atomic bomb” and who, judging by the two-minute-long trailer, was conflicted about its usage.

The film was both written and directed by Dark Knight trilogy director Christopher Nolan, and it was shot for an IMAX screen. Emily Blunt stars as Oppenheimer’s wife, Katharine “Kitty” Oppenheimer, while Matt Damon stars as the director of the Manhattan Project, General Leslie Groves, Jr. In addition to Cillian Murphy, the star-studded cast also includes Robert Downey, Jr., Rami Malek, Josh Hartnett, Matthew Modine, Josh Peck, and Florence Pugh, just to name a few.

The movie is based on the biographical novel American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2006. It follows the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, who worked on the Manhattan Project as the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory. His work is what led to the creation of the atomic bomb, one of the biggest game-changers in history. 

Judging by the trailer, Cillian Murphy captures not just the look of Oppenheimer, but also the heaviness about him and the enigmatic nature that made him famous. He looks, as the description for the trailer reads, like a man “who must risk destroying the world in order to save it.”

When asked about how he prepared for the role of Oppenheimer, Cillian Murphy mentioned that he read a lot about who Oppenheimer was as a person, but not so much about the science and the math involved in doing the things he did. He admits that he doesn’t have much of a passion for science himself, but he was drawn to the part because of the complexity of Oppenheimer and his seemingly contradictory nature. 

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Cillian Murphy in the trailer for Oppenheimer

This isn’t Cillian Murphy’s first time working with Christopher Nolan, although it is the first time the actor has been cast in the lead role in one of his films. Murphy has also appeared in a supporting role in Inception, Dunkirk, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises. He has stated that he will “always turn up” for Nolan, no matter how big or small the role may be.

Aside from his re-teaming with Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer is also a significant film for Nolan because it is the first of his movies to be released by a studio other than Warner Bros. in over 20 years. Tenet was the director’s last movie for Warner Bros., and the two have since parted ways. 

If the past is any indication, Cillian Murphy should start getting ready for awards season now, because if Oppenheimer is like Nolan’s other films, it is going to make a big splash. Nolan’s films have earned 36 Oscar nominations and 11 wins, and have grossed more than $5 billion at the box office.

Oppenheimer is set to hit theaters on July 21, 2023.