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” rested on the shoulders of one actor: Cillian Murphy.
The Irish actor’s performance as J. Robert Oppenheimer is the heart of the film – which Universal highlighted by plastering Murphy’s face on nearly all of the film’s marketing materials. And if the ratings and early box office numbers are any indication, Nolan’s gamble of building the film around Murphy seems 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 he brought to the set.
In a new interview with People Magazine, Downey explained that Murphy’s commitment to the role went far beyond what is usually expected of a leading man. In fact, the Iron Man star said he’s never seen a performer sacrifice more for a role.
“I’ve never seen a greater sacrifice from a leading actor in my career,” Downey said. “He knew it was going to be a giant ask when Chris called him. But I think he also had the humility required to survive playing a role like this.”
Downey echoed the sentiments of his “Oppenheimer” co-star Matt Damon, pointing out how many recreational activities Murphy has given up to prepare for upcoming scenes.
“We’d be like, ‘Hey, we’ve got a three-day weekend. Maybe we’ll go antique in Santa Fe. What are you going to do?’ “Oh, I have to learn 30,000 Dutch words. Have fun,'” he said. “But that’s the nature of the question.”
In the same interview, Florence Pugh joined the chorus of “Oppenheimer” stars heaping praise on Murphy’s dedication to finding the nuances of the role.
“Chris had one of the most incredible runs in Cillian,” Pugh said. “Every day he shows up knowing every single possible way, intonation, inflection, of how to bring this character to life. This was extremely impressive to me. There’s a reason why he’s one of the greatest.”
“Oppenheimer” is now showing in theaters.