Robert Downey Jr. wearing glasses
Movies - TV
Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer Pushed Robert Downey Jr. Out Of His Comfort Zone
While Robert Downey Jr. often plays roles where he is dazzling, witty, and smart, Christopher Nolan wanted him to act specifically against type to play Strauss in "Oppenheimer."
In working with Nolan, Downey knew he’d have to reach into acting techniques he hadn’t touched in a while. It was refreshing for Downey, but also challenging.
Nolan wanted Downey to stay away from what he was known for. Downey recalled the director telling him, "Let’s do it while rendering you devoid of your usual go-to things."
For this, Downey tapped into the spirit of his grandfather, Robert Elias. He was about the same age as Strauss and, in Downey’s estimation, just as competitive as Strauss.
He said, “Elias [...] was in the U.S. Army, self-made guy. There’s a cool simile between something he was involved in and how Strauss probably felt about Oppenheimer.”
This familial connection was Downey’s key. Once he tapped into that, the resentment of competition between Strauss and Oppenheimer came easily.