Christopher Nolan’s next film will recount the birth of the atomic bomb

Cillian Murphy is rumored to be playing famed inventor J Robert Oppenheimer in the director’s historical drama.


Charles Bramesco


It’s said that in the moments after the first successful test of the atomic bomb, scientist Kenneth Bainbridge made the grim pronouncement that “now, we are all sons of bitches.” This morning, that same phrase may very well sum up the general vibe over at Warner Brothers, as Christopher Nolan shops around his next film.

A report running on Deadline last night revealed that following last year’s dustup over WB’s decision to release their 2021 slate directly to HBO Max on the same day as theaters without forewarning talent, Nolan’s exploring his options. The script for his follow-up to Tenet, which had a rocky rollout of its own, has drawn interest among the major studios for its chronicling of J. Robert Oppenheimer inventing the A-bomb. (He’s the guy Bainbridge was talking to.)

Being in the earliest embryonic stages, not much detail is known about the project at present, but the Deadline item does mention that Cillian Murphy is rumored to be in consideration for the lead role. Sounds perfectly plausible, seeing as Murphy has appeared in five of Nolan’s film prior to this point – the nefarious Scarecrow in all three Batman pictures, the businessman getting incepted in Inception, and a nameless soldier in Dunkirk.

The Deadline item states that “the project has the sweep of Nolan’s last historical epic Dunkirk, looking at WWII from the development of the atomic bombs that ended the war with Japan,” which wouldn’t even cover the most compelling slice of Oppenheimer’s life. He was wracked with guilt in the years after that successful trial in New Mexico, and devoted himself to halting nuclear proliferation, a peacenik stance that landed him in the HUAC’s crosshairs during the red scare of the ’50s.

In any case, Nolan’s one of the few filmmakers left capable of wide-opening a movie on his name alone, and any studio worth their salts will be all to happy to pay big money for the chance to do just that. At this point, the only safe bet is that it won’t be Netflix.

Published 10 Sep 2021

Tags: Christopher Nolan Cillian Murphy

Suggested For You

David Squires on… Christopher Nolan’s time bomb

By Little White Lies

Our resident cartoonist imagines a recent meeting between the Tenet director and studio execs.

Christopher Nolan: ‘I’ve not fought in a war, it’s my worst nightmare to do so’

By David Jenkins

The Dunkirk director reveals the challenges of transforming documented reality into an experience fit for the multiplex.

Why The Prestige is the greatest trick Christopher Nolan ever pulled

By Daniel Seddon

Never has on-screen magic been so compelling as in the director’s now 10-year-old passion project.

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.