Christopher Nolan's 'Oppenheimer': Everything to Know

OPPENHEIMER, written and directed by Christopher Nolan
OPPENHEIMER, written and directed by Christopher Nolan

Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures

Get ready for Christopher Nolan's 12th cinematic creation!

Oppenheimer, which will premiere on July 21, 2023, is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography titled American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

The biopic follows J. Robert Oppenheimer, played by Cillian Murphy, the scientist who famously led the Manhattan Project — the effort to create an atomic bomb during World War II.

In February 2022, Murphy spoke with Esquire about the film and revealed what very little he could.

"The difference with this story is everybody knows what happened. But [Christopher Nolan] is telling it in a different way. That's all I can say," he said.

Murphy shared that the role felt "immense and terrifying" when it was first presented to him.

"But if I felt it was easy, I wouldn't be interested. I do get nervous, anxious and insecure, but then you go, 'F— it. I have been doing it for 25 years and I have done it before. So just keep going,' " he said.

Since that interview, much more has been disclosed about the project, including additional details on the lineup of A-list actors who will appear alongside Murphy and a full trailer of the highly anticipated film.

From the release date to the plot to the cast, here's everything we know so far about Oppenheimer.

What is Oppenheimer about?

Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer
Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer


The film is about the creation of the atomic bomb during World War II. More specifically, it follows J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man responsible for making the Manhattan Project a success.

While not much more is known about the plot, viewers can expect a thrilling cinematic experience. In a statement to the AP issued Dec. 13, Nolan said that utilizing IMAX technology "is massively important in transporting the audience into the mind and experience of this person who forever altered our world."

Is there a trailer for Oppenheimer?

The first peek at Oppenheimer arrived in July 2022 along with the film's announcement.

As images from the movie flash alongside a countdown clock, a voiceover described Murphy's character as "the most important man who ever lived," while a tagline reads, "The world forever changes."

The film's official trailer later dropped on Dec. 18, 2022.

The two-minute teaser opens with a massive explosion. The camera then cuts to Murphy's character, who appears to be orchestrating the creation of the infamous atomic bomb.

"They won't fear it until they understand it. And they won't understand it until they've used it," Murphy can be heard saying. "Theory will only take you so far. I don't know if we can be trusted with such a weapon. But we have no choice."

Who is in the cast?

Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr.
Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr.

Samir Hussein/WireImage ; John Phillips/Getty Images ; Jon Kopaloff/Getty

Oppenheimer stars Cillian Murphy, who plays the titular character, J. Robert Oppenheimer. While speaking with Esquire earlier this year, the actor shared just how he planned to prepare for the role.

"There's a wealth of stuff out there and I will read it all," Murphy said. "I am never, ever going to understand quantum mechanics, no matter how hard or how many times people try to explain it to me. There's 0.0001 percent of the population on the planet who have the brainpower to understand that. But I can begin to understand, conceptually, what those guys were trying to do."

In October 2021, Deadline announced that Emily Blunt would play Oppenheimer's wife, Kitty.

Roughly a month later, Variety shared that Matt Damon and Robert Downey Jr. had joined the cast. Downey plays Lewis Strauss, who served two terms on the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, while Damon portrays Lt. Gen. Leslie Groves, who oversaw the construction of the Pentagon and directed the Manhattan Project.

In January 2022, Pearl Harbor's Josh Harnett was cast as Ernest Lawrence — a nuclear physicist who played an integral role in creating the atomic bomb.

OPPENHEIMER, written and directed by Christopher Nolan
OPPENHEIMER, written and directed by Christopher Nolan

Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt in Oppenheimer

Other members of the star-studded cast include Florence Pugh, who plays Oppenheimer's mistress, Jean Tatlock; Gary Oldman as President Harry S. Truman; and Jack Quaid and Rami Malek, whose characters have yet to be disclosed.

Turner & Hooch's Josh Peck also has a role in the film.

"With something like a Nolan movie, you know it can be great and he's setting you up to be great," Peck told FIO Clips. "All you have to do is rise to the occasion and be prepared. You feel those nerves until you get there on the day and you realize that 'Oh, this is just like anything else, it's just the best version of it.' "

The Drake & Josh alum went on to share his admiration for Murphy.

"The best part is you work with a guy like Cillian, who is one of our greatest actors, and then he's a gem of a person. You're like 'Oh, thank God. You're great and nice,' " he said.

Who is directing Oppenheimer?

OPPENHEIMER, written and directed by Christopher Nolan
OPPENHEIMER, written and directed by Christopher Nolan

Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures

Christopher Nolan is directing Oppenheimer. It's the director's 12th film and Nolans' sixth time working with Murphy. Previously, the pair worked together on three Batman films, Inception and Dunkirk.

"I'll always turn up for Chris, whatever the size of the part," Murphy told The Guardian. "Chris will call me up and I'm there. Isn't it wonderful that filmmakers are still making challenging, demanding films within the studio system, shot on film? I think he's flying the flag."

During an interview with Total Film, Nolan described Oppenheimer as one of his "most challenging projects."

"It's a story of immense scope and scale," he said. "There were big, logistical challenges, big practical challenges. But I had an extraordinary crew, and they really stepped up. I'm thrilled with what my team has been able to achieve."

Where was Oppenheimer filmed?

OPPENHEIMER, written and directed by Christopher Nolan
OPPENHEIMER, written and directed by Christopher Nolan

Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures

Oppenheimer was primarily filmed in New Mexico. Select scenes were filmed in New Jersey and California.

When will Oppenheimer be released?

Matt Damon Cillian Murphy
Matt Damon Cillian Murphy

Nicholas W. Thompson/Splash News Online

The film will hit theaters on July 21, 2023, and moviegoers can see it on standard and IMAX screens.