“Oppenheimer” saw Christopher Nolan working with a predictably excellent ensemble cast that included Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, and Robert Downey Jr. But more than any other film in Nolan’s career, the success of “Oppenheimer” fell on the shoulders of one actor: Cillian Murphy.
The Irish actor’s performance as J. Robert Oppenheimer is the heart of the movie — which Universal highlighted by plastering Murphy’s face on virtually all of the film’s marketing materials. And if reviews and early box office numbers are any indicator, Nolan’s gamble to build the film around Murphy appears to have paid off. As the wildly successful “Barbenheimer” weekend draws to a close, some of Murphy’s co-stars reflected on the insane level of commitment that he brought to the shoot.
In a new interview with People Magazine, Downey explained that Murphy’s commitment to the role went far beyond what is typically expected of a leading man. In fact, the “Iron Man” star said that he has never seen a performer sacrifice more for a role.
“I have never witnessed a greater sacrifice by a lead actor in my career,” Downey said. “He knew it was going to be a behemoth ask when Chris called him. But I think he also had the humility that is required to survive playing a role like this.”
Downey echoed the sentiments of his “Oppenheimer” co-star Matt Damon by pointing out how many recreational activities Murphy skipped to prepare for upcoming scenes.
“We’d be like, ‘Hey, we got a three-day weekend. Maybe we’ll go antiquing in Santa Fe. What are you going to do?’ ‘Oh, I have to learn 30,000 words of Dutch. Have a nice time’” he said. “But that’s the nature of the ask.”
In the same interview, Florence Pugh joined the chorus of “Oppenheimer” stars heaping praise on Murphy’s dedication to nailing the nuances of the role.
“Chris had one of the most incredible leads in Cillian,” Pugh said. “Every single day he shows up knowing every single possible way, intonation, inflection of how to bring this character to life. That was hugely impressive to me. There’s a reason why he is one of the greats.”
“Oppenheimer” is now playing in theaters.