Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer: Everything We Know

Christopher Nolan is taking us back to WWII. The director’s next film, the highly anticipated Oppenheimer, has started shooting, and we can’t wait to see it.

Plot details are largely under wraps, but as the film is a biopic of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the inventor of the atomic bomb, we know we’re going back to the Second World War for a tense drama a world away from the beaches of Dunkirk.

As this is Nolan, don’t expect a straightforward history lesson with this next film. Here’s what we know about the project so far.

What’s The Story?

Wikimedia Commons

The film will be adapted from American Prometheus, the Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. Although that covers his entire career, it is expected that Nolan’s focus will be the Manhattan Project, which created the world’s first nuclear weapons.

In the 1930s, the theoretical physicist was hired to become head of the special weapons laboratory tasked with producing what would become the atomic bomb.

Oppenheimer is a fascinating historical figure because of how deeply he regretted his role in this; he told President Harry Truman that he had “blood on his hands” following the bombing of Nagasaki (something the President belittled him for), and only grew more critical in the years leading to his death in 1969.

In other words, this is a historical biopic that will likely play out as a psychological thriller, as one man reckons with the consequences of his devastating actions.

Who’s In Oppenheimer?

Universal Pictures

Regular Nolan collaborator Cillian Murphy is working with the director for the sixth time – and his first in the lead role. He’s already spoken of the research undertaken for this, but still can’t get to grips with the science.

He recently told The Guardian: “I’m interested in the man and what inventing the atomic bomb does to the individual. The mechanics of it, that’s not really for me — I don’t have the intellectual capability to understand them, but these contradictory characters are fascinating.”


Murphy is leading the most star studded cast Nolan has ever assembled. This includes Matt Damon as Leslie Groves, the man who picked Oppenheimer to lead the Manhattan Project, Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, and Emily Blunt as Kitty Oppenheimer, a biologist and wife to our main character.

Other scientific roles will include Benny Safdie as Edward Teller, the Hungarian physicist often credited as “the father of the atomic bomb”.

Meanwhile Josh Hartnett will play Ernest Lawrence, a Nobel Prize winning member of the Manhattan Project, while Dylan Arnold and Michael Angarano will be playing scientists Frank Oppenheimer and Robert Serber respectively.

Marvel Studios

Elsewhere, Florence Pugh will play Jean Tatlock, a member of the U.S. Communist Party who had an affair with Oppenheimer.

But these are just the characters we know about; Rami Malek, Dane DeHaan, Jack Quaid, Matthew Modine, Alden Ehrenreich, Jason Clarke, Louise Lombard, James D’Arcy, and Kenneth Branagh are all part of the ensemble too, in undisclosed roles.

Is There A Trailer?

Yes – although at the time of writing, it’s screening exclusively in cinemas in front of Jordan Peele’s Nope. As that film isn’t released in the UK until three weeks after the US, we only have descriptions of the 60 second teaser to go on.

The trailer reportedly unfolds with a countdown clock in the corner, with Blunt’s character providing voiceover. You get a first look at the gorgeous IMAX black and white photography, as well as copius shots of fire and a climactic reveal of Murphy as Oppenheimer as the tagline “The World Forever Changes” appears onscreen.

As Nolan is a lover of the theatrical experience, don’t expect the trailer to appear online until after its initial cinema run.

However, one thing we do have in lieu of a trailer is the first poster, which you can find above.

When Is Oppenheimer Releasing?

Warner Bros. Pictures

It will be released in cinemas on 21st July 2023 by Universal Pictures.

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Alistair Ryder

Alistair Ryder


Alistair is a culture journalist and lover of bad puns from Leeds. Subject yourself to his bad tweets by following him on Twitter @YesItsAlistair.