Oppenheimer: Everything We Know About The Christopher Nolan Biopic

By Doug Norrie | Published

oppenheimer

When you hear that a new Christopher Nolan movie is coming it’s time to sit up and pay at least a little attention. Or a lot of attention. Seeing as how Nolan is one of the great filmmakers of a generation and his movies can range almost epically in story and scale, we want to have it on our radar when something of his is coming down the pike. That’s going to be the cast with Oppenheimer which features a loaded cast in a film about one of the most influential people in the last century.

Let’s take a look at everything we know about Oppenheimer, who is leading the all-star cast, what it is all about, and when we can expect to see it on the big screen. There’s a lot to dive into here. 

WHAT IS OPPENHEIMER ABOUT?

To say that J. Robert Oppenheimer was one of the most “influential” people of the 21st century, or maybe all of human history would be a massive understatement. And yet, for many, he might not be a household name. That’s because he wasn’t a world leader or even a forefront business innovator. No, instead he was a physicist from the University of California, Berkley who, in the 1940s became the head of the Los Alamos Laboratory that was working on a weapon that would alter the course of World War II and, frankly, human history.

There’s a reason that J. Robert Oppenheimer is called the “father of the atomic bomb” seeing he was heading up the initiative which saw its creation and eventually use on the country of Japan. This was part of the Manhattan Project which led to the creation of the first nuclear weapons. From the early notes on the movie, Oppenheimer will follow the lead character during this time, creating the weapon which led to the end of World War II. 

It isn’t clear how many years Oppenheimer will span, but the Manhattan project ran at the Los Alamos site from 1942 to 1946. This was where the atomic bomb was developed and tested. It stands to reason we could get something of a lead-up to this and then the movie drops us into these years. We do know that Christopher Nolan often has time (in some shape or form) as a key theme in his movies. It will be interesting to see how he tackles this time period and this character in general.

WHO IS STARRING IN OPPENHEIMER?

cillian murphy

As we said, the Oppenheimer cast is completely stacked, arguably one of the biggest and most talented we’ve seen in some time. It’s a testament to the movie’s subject and the career Christopher Nolan has built that we’d see such a who’s who of the Hollywood industry taking part here.

For starters, Cillian Murphy will play J. Robert Oppenheimer. This will be the third time Murphy and Nolan have worked together. The first was in Batman Begins when Murphy played Jonathan Crane/ Scarecrow. He would then go on to have roles in Inception and Dunkirk. But this will be Murphy’s first time in the lead role for a Nolan film. Something the actor has spoken about in terms of respect for the director saying that he’s essentially on the short list of best talents in the filmmaking world. And in terms of sheer acting talent, we know that Cillian Murphy is near the top of the class. 

THE REST OF THE ALL-STAR CAST

emily blunt

After Murphy, well, the list is impressive. Emily Blunt will be playing Kitty Oppenheimer, J. Robert’s wife. Matt Damon will play Leslie Groves who oversaw the construction of the Pentagon as well as the Manhattan Project. And then there is Robert Downey Jr. as Leslie Strauss who was on the Atomic Energy Commission. Check out the transformation RDJ apparently went through for the role:

Considering the names and the characters they are playing, even with a massive cast of who’s who talent, this group will garner significantly more screentime than others. That’s just speculation though and considering the potential length of the film, there could be many stories going on at once.

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And in terms of talent, those folks are only a few of the big names in Oppenheimer. Others include, but certainly aren’t limited to Rami Malek, Florence Pugh, Dane DeHaan, Jack Quaid, Josh Hartnett, Benny Safdie, Matthew Modine, Kenneth Branagh, David Dastmalchian, David Krumholtz, Jason Clarke, Scott Grimes, Gary Oldman, and Casey Affleck. Not every role is disclosed here but, again, this is about as stacked a cast as you’ll ever see for one film.

WHEN WILL OPPENHEIMER BE RELEASED IN THEATERS?

Filming for Oppenheimer started in January 2022 and officially wrapped in May. For Christopher Nolan, this will be another wide release that will go into IMAX as well. Though unlike other films of his, he isn’t working with Warner Bros here instead striking up something of a bidding war between major studios before landing with Universal before it was all said and done.

Nolan hasn’t liked the way Warner Bros was handling movie releases in and around the pandemic and definitely wasn’t a fan of simultaneous theater and streaming releases. He made that perfectly clear and was one of the reasons he decided to seek other suitors for this one. There was no shortage of those lining up. The $100 million budget is nothing to sniff at though considerably lower than some of his other flicks like Tenet and the second two Dark Knight movies.

Oppenheimer is set to hit theaters next summer on July 21, 2023. It will need to blow it out of the box to hit a major profit and it will be interesting to see what a movie about this subject is able to do with a summertime blockbuster release. It doesn’t exactly scream popcorn flick. And while it hasn’t been reported, I think it’s safe to safe this one will have a healthy run time. Four of Nolan’s last five movies ran for at least two hours and thirty minutes with a couple going fifteen minutes longer than that. The only one under two hours was Dunkirk.