Robert Downey Jr. Uncomfortable Filming Oppenheimer With This Co-Star

By Zack Zagranis | Updated

robert downey jr

Robert Downey Jr. admitted in a recent interview that actor Cillian Murphy reacted very coldly to him during the production of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. In a recent interview with ExtraTV the Iron Man star spoke about Murphy’s dedication to his craft and how he embodied J. Robert Oppenheimer to the point where he treated his co-star like the real-life Lewis Strauss, noted opponent of Oppenheimer’s work.

Robert Downey Jr. says that Cillian Murphy was so chilly toward him in character as J. Robert Oppenheimer, that it made him uncomfortable.

“Even just by the time I was on set, seeing how Cillian had embodied this character, to the point where you go like, ‘I’m practically with the guy.’ You can’t help but feel a little bit iced out by it,” the actor confessed.

“Now, Cillian is so warm and nice and inviting,” Downey clarified. “But then we’d roll, and I’d feel like he was looking through me like I didn’t exist. And I was like, ‘That sucks.’”

Robert Downey Jr. recalled another time when he showed up on set after four days off, excited to tell Cillian Murphy about his antiquing adventures around Santa Fe, only to have the Red Eye star cut him off with a request to run lines.

Murphy wasn’t the only one with a frigid temperament on set. Downey said the mandate from Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan regarding his performance was to essentially tone it down, something that didn’t come naturally to the self-described “Mexican jumping bean.”

“I’m always down for getting Spartan and stripping things away,” said the actor following the claim that Nolan asked him to “take things away” from his performance rather than add to it. “It’s not easy,” confessed Robert Downey Jr. before going on to describe himself as the above-mentioned legume.

Though the star has yet to admit publicly that he has ever been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, his own stepmother has alleged that to be the case, meaning that it’s possible that a manic episode contributed to Downey’s difficulty turning his performance down a notch.

“Even just by the time I was on set, seeing how Cillian had embodied this character, to the point where you go like, ‘I’m practically with the guy.’ You can’t help but feel a little bit iced out by it.”

-Robert Downey Jr.

Oppenheimer tells the story of American scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in developing the first atomic bomb at the height of World War II. The heavy subject matter has been reportedly shaking viewers to their very core, something Robert Downey Jr.’s co-star celebrates.

cillian murphy

“I love that,” said Murphy during the same interview. “If a piece of art can alter your emotions and mess you up, that’s something profound!” RDJ, on the other hand, just wants theatergoers to have a good time.

Downey On His Marvel Work

While the actor did admit that there was an element of “purity” to the film—basically a dig at big budget fare like the kind the actor has been making for Disney since 2008—he also said it was just as fun as any of the other big summer blockbusters coming out this year.

Robert Downey Jr. spoke negatively about his time at Marvel in a recent interview with The New York Times, where he admitted he was “a hundred percent” afraid that acting in so many Marvel movies had made his performance too reliant on specific techniques — techniques he was required to shake for Oppenheimer.

The actor even went as far as to join the “the MCU isn’t cinema” debate when he told The New York Times that in the years when Marvel dominated the box office, there were films released that were “probably a better representation of what cinema can be.

Fans will have to wait until Oppenheimer opens on July 21 to see how it stacks up against Avengers: Endgame.