Oppenheimer First Look: Cillian Murphy Will Build The Atomic Bomb For Christopher Nolan

It's probably safe to say that few directors are able to drum up as much excitement and anticipation from diehard fans, casual audiences, and everyone in-between the way that Christopher Nolan does. In a blockbuster landscape where only the biggest franchise IPs tend to survive and thrive, the popular, name-brand filmmaker has made a living out of creating genuine event films from original ideas — thanks to a career boost from that hugely successful "Dark Knight" trilogy, of course. After most recently delivering the mind-melting (and oft-delayed) "Tenet" to audiences two years ago and the World War II-set "Dunkirk" three years before that, the director is back at it again with yet another period drama set during the most catastrophic war the planet has ever seen. This time, Nolan is taking on "Oppenheimer," a biopic centered on the World War II scientist who helped create the destructive atomic bomb.

As you'd expect from Nolan, his buzzy cast has repeatedly made waves with each and every addition over the last several months — even as recently as earlier today! Led by Cillian Murphy as the eponymous character, "Oppenheimer" continues to leave fans waiting for even the slightest hint of what the film may look like. Today, we've received just that. Nolan and Universal Pictures, who snatched up the highly sought-after distribution rights to Nolan's latest after his falling-out with Warner Bros., have released our very first look at Murphy in costume as J. Robert Oppenheimer himself. Check it out below!

First look at Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer

You've seen Cillian Murphy sucking down cigarettes as gangster Tommy Shelby in the 1920s-set "Peaky Blinders," but now we've received our first official look at the actor in-costume and in intriguing period detail in a much, much different role altogether. Nolan immediately drew praise for his on-point casting of Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, both for his immensely capable skills as an actor and for his remarkable physical similarities to the historical figure. 

"Oppenheimer" is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer," written by authors Kai Bird and the late Martin J. Sherwin. Just how closely will Nolan's script hew to the source material? Well, that image of Murphy as Oppenheimer says it all. It's a nearly flawless recreation of the actual cover of Bird and Sherwin's book (ignoring the egregiously unforgivable differences between the placement of that cigarette, of course), which you can see for yourself below.

As you can see, Murphy is practically a dead-ringer for the real-life figure and has certainly proved to have the acting chops to handle whatever dramatic emotional range that Nolan will require of him. Fans will remember that Murphy and Nolan have previously worked together on "Dunkirk" and "Inception," having also appeared throughout his "The Dark Knight" movies as Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow. Excitingly, "Oppenheimer" will mark his first leading role under Nolan and we can't wait to see how this collaboration continues.

In addition to Murphy, "Oppenheimer" stars Robert Downey, Jr., Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, Benny Safdie, Josh Hartnett, Dane DeHaan, Jack Quaid, Matthew Modine, Alden Ehrenreich, David Krumholtz, Kenneth Branagh, Michael Angarano, and much more. We can expect the film to arrive in theaters on July 21, 2023.