His cold, calculated performances as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders has turned Cillian Murphy into an onscreen sensation but his next role as the creator of the atomic bomb in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer puts the 45-year-old actor in the ranks of Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale.

In fact, he seems to have taken a leaf right out of Bale’s book. Bale is famous for undergoing unbelievable body transformations for his roles, and Murphy seems to have followed suit with a much skinnier frame, perhaps better suited for the role of a theoretical physicist as opposed to that of a Birmingham gangster. Take a look below:

Oppenheimer marks the much-awaited high-profile acting role for the Irishman, who has previously worked with Nolan as the main villain of Batman Begins, Dr. Jonathan Crane aka Scarecrow. Interestingly, even back then Cillian had auditioned for the lead role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, in a classic clip that’s gone viral over the last few years:

Nearly 17 years later, it’s heartening to see Cillian’s dream of playing a leading role in Nolan’s films become a reality. “It’s the first time he’s [Nolan] cast me in a lead, which I’m still a bit in shock about, but I’m thrilled,” he shared with Esquire earlier this year.

“It’s a huge part and a lot of work. But, in my estimation, you’re working with one of the greatest living directors, so you’re in safe hands.”

That said, playing the father of the atomic bomb seems like no mean feat. Oppenheimer himself was a larger-than-life figure at the very helm of 20th century physics and wartime politics. He was a contemporary, friend, fellow chess-player, and intellectual rival of Albert Einstein, who is also rumoured to be portrayed in the film.

While Einstein’s casting rumors have floated in the direction of Gary Oldman, the film offers what may be Nolan’s biggest cast yet. Emily Blunt stars as Oppenheimer’s wife—biologist and botanist Kitty, Matt Damon as Manhattan Project director Leslie Groves Jr., and Robert Downey Jr. as founding commissioner of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Lewis Strauss. You will also see Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, and Kenneth Branagh. Regarding the film’s plot, well… it is history after all, and Cillian admits as much.

“The difference with this one is the story is there, everybody knows what happened,” Murphy said. “But Chris is telling it in a different way, as with Chris you would expect. That’s all I can say.” 

He also elaborated on the challenging task of slipping into a nuclear scientist’s shoes—a massively challenging role for any actor.

“There’s 0.0001 per cent of the population on the planet who have the brainpower to understand that,” he said regarding the actual physics Oppenheimer’s people busied themselves with in real-life. “But I can begin to understand, conceptually, what those guys were trying to do.”

Oppenheimer is scheduled for release on July 21st, 2023.

(Featured Image Credits: BBC, Universal Pictures)