Cillian Murphy is already earning rave reviews for his portrayal in “Oppenheimer” of the eponymous physicist who built the first nuclear bomb. Part of the Irish actor’s method was to look as much like the scientist as possible ― and that included extreme tactics, as co-stars Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr. and Matt Damon recently shared.
In an interview with Fandango, Blunt said filming the Los Alamos National Laboratory scenes in New Mexico offered great local cuisine. But Murphy skipped out while portraying J. Robert Oppenheimer, she said.
“We were all in New Mexico, like, eating quesadillas, and [Murphy] was like, in his room, eating an almond,” Blunt said during a group interview with Fandango posted last week. Damon added: “He declined every dinner invitation for the entire film. We invited him to dinner every night. He never came once.”
“He had such a monumental undertaking,” Blunt told Extra in an interview last week. “And he could only eat, like, an almond every day. He was so emaciated.”
Murphy joins many other actors in changing their bodies for a role or feeling pressure to do so. Stars themselves have warned that altering their bodies can be unhealthy physically and mentally ― while others have cautioned that celebrating dramatic weight loss by actors is dangerous for observers as well.
Murphy recently told The Guardian that “becoming competitive with yourself” in regards to how thin one can get for a role isn’t healthy, and notably declined to discuss details of his “Oppenheimer” diet.
“I don’t want it to be, ‘Cillian lost x weight for the part,’” he told the outlet.
The actor explained to The New York Times in May why he wanted to match Oppenheimer’s look.
“I love acting with my body, and Oppenheimer had a very distinct physicality and silhouette,” Murphy told the Times. “I had to lose quite a bit of weight … he was very slim, almost emaciated, existed on martinis and cigarettes.”
While Murphy has worked with visionary director Christopher Nolan before — and starred in “Inception” (2010), “Dunkirk” (2017) and the “Dark Knight” trilogy (2005-2012) — “Oppenheimer” marks the first time he’s leading a blockbuster of such scale.
Oppenheimer spearheaded the Manhattan Project, a secret research and development project to build an atomic bomb during World War II. Testing was carried out at Los Alamos, a desert outpost in New Mexico where the scientists and their families lived.
For the film, Nolan once again cast digital effects aside in favor of practical filmmaking ― and IMAX cameras. He even used practical effects for the harrowing Trinity test explosion. Nolan is so traditional, in fact, he doesn’t even use a smartphone.
“The only thing Chris would do by text is [Cillian’s] daily calorie count,” joked Downey Jr. during the Fandango interview.
“Oppenheimer” hits theaters July 21.
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