Oppenheimer, the three-hour Christopher Nolan-directed film about men discussing theoretical physics, opened in cinemas around the world last week to great fanfare. (According to Vanity Fair, the title attracted USD$93.7 million—AUD$139.1 million—in international box office earnings on its opening weekend. Comparatively, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie has raked in USD$182 million globally—AUD$270 million.)
At Oppenheimer’s centre, Peaky Blinders actor Cillian Murphy, 47, plays New York-born, Nobel Prize- nominee J. Robert Oppenheimer, an American theoretical physicist who is often referred to as “The Father Of The Atomic Bomb”. Don’t Worry, Darling actress and Valentino ambassador Florence Pugh, 27, plays Jean Tatlock, a young medical student with whom Oppenheimer has a love affair with. Murphy and Pugh’s steamy scenes are the talk of netizens.
“Those [sex] scenes were written deliberately,” Murphy told the Sydney Morning Herald. “He knew that those scenes would get the movie the rating that it got.
“And I think when you see it, it’s so f**kng powerful. And they’re not gratuitous. They’re perfect. And Florence is just amazing.
Murphy says he has been a fan of Pugh’s work and screen presence since she starred in 2016 romantic drama Lady Macbeth.
“I think she’s f***ing phenomenal,” Murphy continued. “She has this presence as a person and on screen that is staggering. The impact she has [in Oppenheimer] for the size of the role, it’s quite devastating.”
Murphy lost a lot of weight to play Oppenheimer, a scientist who worked in the Los Alamos laboratory where the world’s first atomic bombs were designed and built, (and who later struggled with guilt after those bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as part of the American war effort in 1945).
“I love acting with my body, and Oppenheimer had a very distinct physicality and silhouette, which I wanted to get right,” he told The New York Times in May.
“I had to lose quite a bit of weight, and we worked with the costume and tailoring; he was very slim, almost emaciated, existed on martinis and cigarettes.”
Even though Murphy smoked herbal cigarettes in the role, he has expressed concern for the damage it could be doing to his own health.
“I’ve smoked so many fake cigarettes for Peaky and [Oppenheimer]. My next character will not be a smoker,” he told the Guardian, citing he smoked over 3000 cigarettes to play Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders’ six seasons.
“They can’t be good for you. Even herbal cigarettes have health warnings now.”
Oppenheimer is in cinemas now.