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Christopher Nolan casts Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer, father of atomic bomb

The Dunkirk, Inception and Peaky Blinders star will play J. Robert Oppenheimer in Nolan's World War II picture, which also got a release date.

Cillian Murphy and Christopher Nolan return to World War 2 for Oppenheimer.

Robert Viglasky/BBC

Explosive news: Christopher Nolan has found the star who will portray the father of the atomic bomb in his next movie, Oppenheimer, and it's got a date now, too. Cillian Murphy will play J. Robert Oppenheimer in Nolan's planned movie, which will debut July 21, 2023.

Nolan didn't have to look too far for his leading man: he directed Murphy in Batman Begins and the Dark Knight sequels as well as Inception and Dunkirk. Murphy recently starred in A Quiet Place Part 2, and after shooting Oppenheimer he'll cap his TV starring role with a Peaky Blinders movie in 2023.

Shooting in 2022 on Imax cameras, the film will be based on Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin's Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction book, American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer. The book and film tell the story of the American scientist who led the US Army's Manhattan Project to develop an atomic weapon during World War II.

The film is backed by Universal Pictures after Nolan's long-standing relationship with Warner Bros appears to have soured following Warner's decision to release his time-twisting blockbuster Tenet on streaming service HBO Max.