When Deadline reported in October that Emily Blunt was in talks to star opposite Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer — Christopher Nolan’s next film — they said she was joining what was “believed to be an all-star ensemble.” At the time, the report seemed premature since Blunt was the only acting talent other than Murphy reported to be attached. But today it’s become clear exactly what Deadline was talking about. Both Robert Downey Jr. and Matt Damon are reported to be starring in the film.
The news comes once again from Deadline, who says there’s no word yet on exactly who either Robert Downey Jr. or Matt Damon will play in the upcoming historical thriller. Considering the subject matter, however, it’s tempting to speculate. Cillian Murphy is set to lead Oppenheimer as J. Robert Oppenheimer — the theoretical physicist who ran the World War II-era Manhattan Project, which successfully produced the first nuclear detonation on Earth. Blunt is set to play his wife Katherine “Kitty” Oppenheimer.
Considering the prominent role the Manhattan Project plays in Oppenheimer, it’s likely both Robert Downey Jr. and Matt Damon will be playing either some of the eminent scientists involved in the work or the military personnel assigned to the project. Considering he’s now best known as Tony Stark — a genius who becomes a hero after regretting what his creations have been used for — it would seem almost criminal for Downey to not be cast as one of the scientists. Damon, on the other hand, already had a memorable role as a World War II-era soldier in 1998’s Saving Private Ryan, so he might be one of the project’s military personnel.
There’s no word yet on whether or not Michael Caine will appear in Oppenheimer. While the upcoming movie will be Robert Downey Jr.’s first time in a Nolan-directed film, Caine has landed a part in every major motion picture Christopher Nolan has directed since starring as Alfred Pennyworth in 2005’s Batman Begins. Caine announced he was retiring from acting in October, but apparently, he spoke too soon. Right after his departure from the cinema was unveiled, Caine took his words back, telling TheWrap, “I’ve spent over 50 years getting up at 6:00 AM to make movies, and I’m not getting rid of my alarm clock!” So it seems possible, if not likely, Nolan could find a part for Caine in Oppenheimer.
Oppenheimer will be Christopher Nolan’s first film outside of Warner Bros’ tent for quite a while. The word that the director was looking to make a movie with a new studio sparked a fierce bidding war in Hollywood, even before big names like Robert Downey Jr. and Matt Damon were attached. Universal came out on top because, rather than negotiate with Nolan, the studio reportedly simply said yes to everything Nolan wanted. If true, that means Oppenheimer will have a production and marketing budget of $100 million each. Upon its release on July 21, 2023, it will enjoy a blackout period for three weeks before and after the film’s premiere during which Universal won’t release any other films, as well as a theatrical window of 100 to 130 days. Christopher Nolan will reportedly have complete creative freedom in the making of Oppenheimer, and will pocket 20% of the film’s first-dollar gross; which means he gets his 20% whether or not the film turns a profit.