Cillian Murphy plays the role of “one of the most complicated and layered people” in history in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming movie, Oppenheimer.
The Peaky Blinders star plays J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, in the director’s famed biopic, which follows the physicist as he works with a team of scientists on the Manhattan Project as they develop the deadly weapon.
“It’s the best script I’ve ever read,” Murphy said Rolling Stone UK. The story is told entirely in first person from Oppenheimer’s perspective, which the actor appreciated. “I think the film is sensational. As a person who loves movies – I’m not saying it because I’m in the damn thing, I hate watching myself – but as a movie buff, as a cinephile, I’m a fan of Chris Nolan.
While the Batman begins villain refrained from sharing too many details about his view of the scientist, he did drop a little hint about his view of Oppenheimer. He explained that when he played a physicist Sunshine (2007), he spent some time with real-life physicist Brian Cox (no, not Logan Roy) and learned a lot from him.
“I’ll never have the intellectual capacity — not many of us have that — but I liked to listen,” Murphy said, before turning his attention to the creator of the nuclear bomb. “With that intellect – which I think can actually be a burden – you don’t see things in the normal plane that we do. Everything is multifaceted and on the verge of collapse.”
Nolan also spoke to the publication about Murphy’s role in his film, explaining that he thinks the actor’s “extraordinary empathy” will help audiences who are going to watch Oppenheimer in the layered thinking process of the scientist.
“He projects an intelligence that makes the audience feel like they understand the character,” said the famed director. “I think of all the characters I’ve seen Cillian play and of all the characters I’ve dealt with in my line of work, Oppenheimer is one of the most complicated and layered people. Cillian is one of the few talents who is able to explore those different layers and project that level of complexity.”
He explained that Murphy not only projects intelligence with his acting, but also power in a way that makes people actually listen to him.
“There are all these levels of intent going on with the actions he’s taking, and he’s surrounded by people,” Nolan said. “So, the public joins this community that clings to his every word, studies his every gesture, to try to understand it.”
Murphy also shared that he was a fan of the Basic principle helmer before taking on the role of Scarecrow in Batman beginswhich was the beginning of their nearly 20-year working relationship.
Murphy has acted in a total of six of Nolan’s films, even going so far as to have a brief cameo in them Dunkirk like a “shivering soldier” with combat shock.
“I always showed up for Chris, even though he was walking in the background of his next movie holding a surfboard,” the actor joked. “Although…not sure what kind of Chris Nolan movie that would be. But I always hoped I could star in a Chris Nolan movie. What actor wouldn’t want to do that?”
Similarly, Nolan shared his respect for Murphy and how he always challenges himself in new roles. The director also praised the actor for never catching his fame.
“He hasn’t let success change him or in any way get in the way of the truth of this process,” Nolan said. “And that’s very difficult for an actor to sustain throughout his career.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Murphy explained that he feels like people are a little “underwhelmed” when they meet him because they’re expecting Tommy Shelby, but that can’t be any different from who he really is.
He also said he would be ready to cooperate Peaky Blinders creator Stephen Knight on a film following the Netflix drama series finale that ended last year.
“If there’s more story, I’d love to,” Murphy said. “But it has to be right. Steve Knight wrote 36 hours of television, and we left in a daze. I’m really proud of that last series. So it should feel legitimate and justified to do more.”