Who plays President Harry S. Truman in ‘Oppenheimer’?

An acting legend has a small but crucial role

Christopher Nolan delivers his first biographical epic in Oppenheimer.

Based on the book American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, the film follows the life of theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) who was instrumental in the creation of the first nuclear weapons as part of the Manhattan Project.

Alongside Murphy as the title character, Oppenheimer stars Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek and Kenneth Branagh.

Who plays US President Harry S. Truman in Oppenheimer?

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Gary Oldman
Gary Oldman. CREDIT: Joe Maher/Getty Images

Gary Oldman plays Harry S. Truman, who served as president of the US from 1945 to 1953. As depicted in the film, Oppenheimer met Truman on October 25, 1945, where their differing views on nuclear weapons caused friction between them.

While speaking to Truman, Oppenheimer famously claimed to have “blood on his hands” following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – a comment which angered the president who, ultimately, gave the order to drop the atomic bomb in Japan.

According to the book Robert Oppenheimer: A Life Inside The Center by Ray Monk, Truman responded: “Blood on his hands; damn it, he hasn’t half as much blood on his hands as I have. You just don’t go around bellyaching about it.”

As reflected in the film, Truman is also said to have called Oppenheimer a “cry-baby scientist”.

This isn’t the first time Oldman has played a political leader, having portrayed UK prime minister Winston Churchill in 2017’s Darkest Hour.

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In a five-star review, NME wrote: “Not just the definitive account of the man behind the atom bomb, Oppenheimer is a monumental achievement in grown-up filmmaking. For years, Nolan has been perfecting the art of the serious blockbuster – crafting smart, finely-tuned multiplex epics that demand attention; that can’t be watched anywhere other than in a cinema, uninterrupted, without distractions. But this, somehow, feels bigger.”

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