Christopher Nolan explains why 'Oppenheimer' can be seen as a 'horror movie'

The looming SAG-AFTRA strike doesn’t derail the explosive London premiere of ‘Oppenheimer’.

Step aside, Barbie, it is OppenheimerTonight it’s the turn of Leicester Square in London and the biopic drama of Christopher Nolan is finally ready to explode.

While buzz was nearly radioactive at the UK premiere of Nolan’s 12th feature Thursday night, the possibility of SAG-AFTRA actors going on strike loomed over the red carpet at the Odeon Luxe cinema. The event was only brought forward by an hour the night before in case strike action started and forced the cast to stay at home. Nolan himself, along with Florence Pugh, Matt Damon and Robert Downey Jr., have been selective with the press. Journalists have been warned not to mention the impending SAG-AFTRA attack.

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With the focus clearly on the film thanks to the strike edict, Cillian Murphy led the way, admitting he relished the opportunity to impress as Nolan’s frontman after years of collaboration between the two. “It’s a dream,” he says The Hollywood Reporter. “He is one of the best living directors”.

And Murphy was waiting for the call, he unobtrusively says: “Secretly. I’ve worked with him for so long, but you know, you never petition a director – you hope your work does it for you. Downey Jr., playing nuclear energy policy chief Lewis Strauss, was greeted with a barrage of applause from a packed crowd as a flaming countdown towered menacingly over them on the big screen.

“I’ll just say it: this is my best film,” he proudly announced. “This is what a summer blockbuster was like when I was growing up… It changed your life. That’s why Christopher Nolan is who he is.

Nolan’s latest project follows the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer and the sinister inner workings of the Manhattan Project, as a team of scientists work during World War II to create a weapon capable of wiping out the planet.

And climbing into the brain of the father of the atomic bomb must have been no easy task. Fortunately, there hasn’t been a surprising synergy between him and the character, she reveals. “We really don’t have a lot in common,” Murphy said of the lead role. “But I don’t think it’s necessary to have commonalities with the protagonists to play them.”

She stars opposite Emily Blunt as the theoretical physicist’s wife, Kitty, who joined in the chorus of praise for Murphy’s performance: “He’s just wonderful, he’s happy. And we trust each other,” he says DAY. “You have an accelerated friendship when you work with people, it’s like a secret language.” (The two headline A quiet place 2.)

But while filming was a safe space, off-set was a little scarier. Production took place in the middle of nowhere, actually in the New Mexico desert, and Blunt asked her co-stars, Matt Damon and Josh Hartnett, to act as a form of protection.

“We all stayed in the same hotel, but me, Matt and Josh were all in these cabins next to each other. And it was terrifying; when I arrived it was pitch black, there was no light. I said, ‘If any of you hear me screaming at night, everybody run and save me from whatever is going on.’ We called it the cell block.

Hartnett, playing American physicist Ernest Lawrence, didn’t realize how big a responsibility he has to protect a star like Emily Blunt. However, he said a Nolan set feels like “family” and warned audiences about what a film is like Oppenheimer is capable of doing.

“I came away feeling that these technologies that we create can be used for good or bad, and we need some safeguards,” he said. “I think we have to be very careful where things go in the future.”

“I think it’s a masterpiece,” said Kenneth Brannagh, Nolan’s longtime friend and colleague, who plays Danish physicist Niels Bohr. “The scale of the ambition, the dimension of the story, the characters involved… It’s an immensely difficult undertaking. But I think the state of cinema of him, that he’s able to do that and still has cinematic panache. It’s really exciting.”