Cillian Murphy had to “sit down for a moment” and gather his thoughts when he received the unexpected call from director and longtime collaborator Christopher Nolan about playing the lead role in his epic biographical thriller. Oppenheimer.

Murphy said during Deadline’s Contenders Film: Los Angeles panel for the Universal film, “I knew it was a big deal, but it was an absolutely electrifying feeling, but also terrifying, but that’s the place I always want to be when I’m making work – I never want it to feel easy or safe, but this was important and I knew it was a huge responsibility and a huge amount of work.”

Murphy plays the complicated and brilliant titular physicist tasked with leading the Manhattan Project, the secret effort to create the atomic bomb.

The story unfolds in an unusual first-person approach, with a moral conundrum forming in Oppenheimer’s head as he begins to imagine the dangers beyond the short-term use of a weapon that could – and did – trigger an arms race. and a new world. order that changed us forever.

The film was a worldwide success, with US$949.8 million in global box office receipts as of this weekend. Oppenheimer was released at Nolan’s preferred time in July and became part of the zeitgeist with the Barbenheimer phenomenon that followed, but regardless, the career-best blockbuster is nothing short of an astonishing feat for an R-rated three-hour drama. like R.

Murphy was joined on Contenders by producer Emma Thomas, costume designer Ellen Mirojnick, Jamie Leigh McIntosh from the hair department and visual effects supervisor Andrew Jackson.

“The script was genuinely one of the best things I’ve ever read – it was stunning in its ambition and scale, but also in the clarity with which he plotted Oppenheimer’s story,” said Murphy. “[Nolan] it was written in the first person which I had never encountered before so it was a new experience for me to read it. … These are the biggest moral dilemmas possible, the biggest drama possible, the things that all these characters are struggling with, so you just have to dive in. …But Chris having written and adapted from the book and having lived with it for so long, he has a wonderful understanding of the story and how he wants to tell it and how the character should be portrayed… We worked very closely from the beginning to figure it out.”

Thomas added: “Every film you do has its own challenges and I think a lot of times when I read the scripts that Chris writes, I get kind of super nervous because I’m thinking about what it’s for. in the coming years, but also how we are going to do these things. With this script it was actually very different because I felt like we had control just with the experience we had up to that point. We had control over filming in the desert, we had control over the logistical aspects, but what I felt was a much bigger challenge in this was how were we going to be able to condense this huge story into a movie – it’s also huge questions, deep moral ambiguity, how can we release a film like this in the summer and have people engage with it and make a film that can entertain and at the same time allow people to be challenged by the ideas that are in it.”

She praised Murphy and the team.

“I think largely because of Cillian’s performance, which expresses so much, and of course with the work of everyone else who was in the film, somehow Chris managed to thread the needle while also entertaining and dealing with with big issues with respect, while bringing audiences to the theaters. to have an experience,” she said.

Check back on Monday for the panel video.

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