Cillian Murphy was “desperate” to play lead role in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’

The actor has previously played supporting roles in five of Nolan’s films

Cillian Murphy has said he was “desperate” to play a lead role for director Christopher Nolan.

The actor, who plays the lead in Nolan’s upcoming historical biopic Oppenheimer, has previously played supporting roles in five of the director’s films; Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Dunkirk and Inception.

Speaking to Associated Press, Murphy said: “I have always said publicly and privately to Chris, that if I’m available and you want me to be in a movie, I’m there. I don’t really care about the size of the part.


“But deep down, secretly, I was desperate to play a lead for him.”

He added: “We have this long-standing understanding and trust and shorthand and respect. It felt like the right time to take on a bigger responsibility. And it just so happened that it was a huge one.”

Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan promotes the upcoming film “Oppenheimer” during the Universal Pictures and Focus Features presentation during CinemaCon on April 26, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CREDIT: Gabe Ginsberg/WireImage

Murphy plays theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who is considered the “father of the atomic bomb” for his role in the Manhattan Project. The film’s supporting cast includes Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh and Rami Malek.

Pugh, who plays Jean Tatlock, recently described Nolan as a “master” of his craft. “Working with Christopher Nolan was quite possibly one of the most thrilling experiences in a different way, partly because he works with professionals,” she told BBC Radio 1.

“He is a professional. But his dedication to the craft of filmmaking and old filmmaking is just magical to watch.”


Oppenheimer is released in cinemas on July 21, 2023.

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