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‘I don’t have the intellectual capability’: When Cillian Murphy said he skipped learning atomic bomb technicalities for Oppenheimer


In his preparation for the film Oppenheimer, Cillian Murphy, renowned for his roles in Christopher Nolan’s previous works, delved into the psyche of J. Robert Oppenheimer rather than focusing on the intricate technicalities of the atomic bomb. Murphy, who takes on the eponymous role of the Manhattan Project leader in Nolan’s atomic bomb drama, shared his unique approach to preparing for the challenging character while speaking with The Guardian.

When Cillian Murphy opened up about his preparation for the role of Oppenheimer

Murphy’s preparation strategy centered on extensive reading, immersing himself in literature that shed light on the life and persona of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Rather than grappling with the complex mechanics of nuclear physics and bomb-making, Murphy directed his efforts toward understanding the man behind the science.

A still from Oppenheimer

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He expressed his fascination with the impact of inventing the atomic bomb on an individual’s psyche, emphasizing the contradictory aspects of Oppenheimer’s character. The Oppenheimer star told The Guardian, “[I prepped by doing] an awful lot of reading, I’m interested in the man and what [inventing the atomic bomb] does to the individual. The mechanics of it, that’s not really for me — I don’t have the intellectual capability to understand them, but these contradictory characters are fascinating.”

Drawing a connection between his role as Oppenheimer and his iconic portrayal of Tommy Shelby in the hit series Peaky Blinders, Murphy highlighted the universal appeal of characters who grapple with contradictory ideas within themselves. “People identify with that, because we all walk around with these contradictory ideas coexisting in our heads,” Murphy told The Guardian.

A still from Oppenheimer

 Did Cillian Murphy’s dominance lead to other Peaky Blinders star’s exit? Read to find out

When Cillian Murphy earned praise for his portrayal of Oppenheimer

As per the reports, Cillian Murphy’s portrayal of Oppenheimer garnered significant acclaim, with Christopher Nolan personally selecting him for the role of Dr. Oppenheimer after their two-decade-long collaboration. 

Additionally, in an interview with The Guardian, Murphy shared his satisfaction with his performance in Oppenheimer. 

As per the reports by PEOPLE, Robert Downey Jr. also lauded Murphy’s remarkable performance, going as far as to describe it as the most profound commitment he’s witnessed from a lead actor throughout his illustrious 53-year career.

 Will Christopher Nolan’s directorial work, ‘Oppenheimer,’ be available online for streaming?

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.