As we head into the Barbenheimer weekend, two anticipated films, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, are making their mark with critical acclaim and box office triumph. Notably, Nolan’s enthusiasts are keen to discover what cinematic wonders the director has in store after his well-received ventures such as Tenet and Dunkirk. Cillian Murphy, the star of Oppenheimer, praises the script as one of the most remarkable yet, suggesting a new pinnacle for Nolan.
During a conversation with FilmSweep’s Steve Weintraub before the SAG-AFTRA strike, Murphy shed light on Nolan’s unique approach to crafting the Oppenheimer script. He was particularly intrigued by the screenplay being written entirely in the first person, a rare occurrence for scripts, which generally adopt a third-person viewpoint. This unusual style allowed Murphy to grasp more fully the weight of his character as the eponymous J. Robert Oppenheimer.
“Remarkably, he penned the script in the first person, an experience I’d never before encountered. It astounded me. I also understood the considerable responsibility, as everything is perceived through Oppenheimer’s perspective, except the black and white segments presented objectively from [Lewis] Strauss’ (Robert Downey Jr.) perspective. It unquestionably ranks among the finest scripts I’ve ever read. For instance, instead of saying, ‘Oppenheimer walks into the room and converses with Strauss,’ he would write, ‘I enter the room,’ and ‘I approach and chat with Strauss.’ That was the script’s style.”
Image via Universal Pictures
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Adding to his statements, Murphy said that he had not come across any other scripts utilizing a first-person POV, which echoes a previous comment from Nolan. Speaking to Empire Magazine, Nolan revealed that neither he nor anyone he knows has ever employed a first-person POV. This was a deliberate strategy to probe deeper into Oppenheimer’s mindset, highlighting that the narrative is conveyed from his perspective rather than merely observing the unfolding events. Murphy pondered how Nolan’s approach might influence future scriptwriting. He jokingly told Weintraub, “I suspect every upcoming script will adopt this style. They’ll all be emulating Chris.” Benny Safdie, Murphy’s co-actor, further praised Oppenheimer as Nolan’s most impressive film to date.
Oppenheimer, based on true events, is adapted from Martin Sherwin and Kai Bird’s American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer. The film chronicles the life of Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy), widely recognized as the head of The Manhattan Project, responsible for the development of the atomic bomb for the United States. Later, he chaired the United States Atomic Energy Commission, aiming to curb the nuclear arms competition with the Soviet Union. The movie delves into Oppenheimer’s life as he contributes to the creation of one of the most devastating weapons on Earth. Other notable cast members include Florence Pugh, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Rami Malek, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Quaid, David Dastmalchian, Kenneth Branagh, Olivia Thirlby, Casey Affleck, Josh Peck, Gary Oldman, Alex Wolff, and more.
Oppenheimer is currently playing in theaters. For more insights, check out our comprehensive interview with Murphy below:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’
Who is the lead actor in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’?
Cillian Murphy is the lead actor in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer.’
What is unique about the screenplay of ‘Oppenheimer’?
The screenplay of ‘Oppenheimer’ is unique as it is written entirely in the first person, which is atypical for scripts that are usually written from a third-person perspective.
What does Cillian Murphy think of the ‘Oppenheimer’ screenplay?
Cillian Murphy has praised the ‘Oppenheimer’ screenplay as one of the best he has ever read and stated that it “blew his mind.”
What is Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ based on?
‘Oppenheimer’ is based on the book ‘American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer’ by Martin Sherwin and Kai Bird.
What is the main plot of ‘Oppenheimer’?
The film ‘Oppenheimer’ follows the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist known for leading the Manhattan Project and developing the atomic bomb for the United States. It delves into his life as he helps create one of the most destructive weapons on Earth.