Oppenheimer Cast & Character Guide: Every Actor In Chris Nolan’s Epic Historic Thriller

Summary

  • The cast of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer is epic, featuring familiar actors like Cillian Murphy and newcomers like Emily Blunt and Florence Pugh.
  • Cillian Murphy takes on the lead role as J. Robert Oppenheimer, historically known as the “Father of the Atomic Bomb”.
  • The cast also includes Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, and other talented actors who bring their own unique qualities to the film, creating a star-studded lineup for this historic thriller.


Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer cast is just as epic in scale as the movie’s premise. Oppenheimer is Nolan’s first biopic and focuses on the man central to the creation of the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer. Nolan’s Oppenheimer takes place in the 1930s and 1940s and charts Oppenheimer’s role in the infamous Manhattan Project. The Oppenheimer cast brings the titular scientific figure and plenty of others to life in a movie that’s everything from a historical thriller to a horror-themed biopic.

Many familiar actors from Christopher Nolan’s past movie projects are included in the cast of Oppenheimer. Cillian Murphy, who also stars in Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, and Dunkirk, takes on the lead role, stepping into Oppenheimer’s shoes at the height of the Manhattan Project. Other than Nolan’s regular collaborators, plenty of talented actors worked with the filmmaker for the first time. Between Robert Downey Jr, Emily Blunt, and Florence Pugh, the list of award winners in the Oppenheimer cast is as big as the tale they brought to the screen.

Related

6 Genres & Themes Christopher Nolan Should Tackle Next After Oppenheimer

Christopher Nolan is an exceptionally talented writer and director who has worked across a variety of genres, but what should he tackle next?


Cillian Murphy As J. Robert Oppenheimer

The Father Of The Atomic Bomb

Cillian Murphy plays J. Robert Oppenheimer in the Oppenheimer cast. Murphy is a veteran of Nolan’s films, so his inclusion in this cast should be no surprise. Murphy has compared Robert Oppenheimer with his role as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders because he sees both men as “contradictory characters” (via NME). The actor has worked with Nolan on Inception, Dunkirk, and appeared as The Scarecrow in all three of Nolan’s Batman movies.

This is the first time that Murphy plays the lead in one of Christopher Nolan’s films, but he’s played the starring role in plenty of movies, from 28 Days Later to Sunshine.

Emily Bunt As Katherine ‘Kitty’ Oppenheimer

J. Robert Oppenheimer’s Wife

Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt touch hands in Oppenheimer

Emily Blunt’s Oppenheimer character is Kitty Oppenheimer. Kitty is Robert Oppenheimer’s wife, who struggles to cope with his anxiety about work and his affair with Jean Tatlock. She still stands by Oppenheimer’s side no matter what and stands up to government officials when he can’t. Emily Blunt is new to Nolan’s films. Blunt’s previous film resume boasts an impressive list of acting credits, including A Quiet Place Part II, Edge of Tomorrow, and Sicario — intense movies that prove she’s the perfect actor for a Nolan-directed thriller.

Matt Damon As Leslie Groves

The Director Of The Manhattan Project

Matt Damon joins the Oppenheimer cast as Leslie Groves. Damon plays Army Corps of Engineers overseer Groves, who is responsible for the construction of the Pentagon and is appointed to direct the Manhattan Project in September 1942. He’s the closest thing to an ally that Oppenheimer has outside his fellow physicists. Damon and Nolan previously worked together on Interstellar where Damon played an astronaut lost in space.

The actor ironically played astronauts lost in space in back-to-back blockbuster movies, as The Martian followed one year later. Damon is also known for playing Jason Bourne in the action franchise, and he won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting.

Robert Downey Jr. As Lewis Strauss

A Member Of The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)

Robert Downey Jr in Oppenheimer wearing '40s period attire in a large meeting room, leaning forward to peer over his horn-rimmed glasses

Robert Downey Jr. plays Lewis Strauss in the Oppenheimer cast. After playing one of the most famous superheroes in the world in the MCU, Downey plays the villain in Oppenheimer. Lewis Strauss, a naval officer who served two terms on the United States Atomic Energy Commission, locked horns with Oppenheimer every step of the way during the Manhattan Project, and he tried to ruin the physicist’s life. Following his role in the MCU, Downey gives a much more dramatic performance as Strauss, and he looks almost unrecognizable in the role.

Florence Pugh As Jean Tatlock

Oppenheimer’s Mistress & A Communist Party Member

Custom image of Florence Pugh looking surprised and the assembly of an atomic bomb in Oppenheimer.

Florence Pugh’s Oppenheimer character is Jean Tatlock. Tatlock is a member of the United States Communist Party, and a psychiatrist, who has a romantic relationship with J. Robert Oppenheimer. Her suicide had a huge impact on Oppenheimer and only added to his increasing anxiety and stress. After her success in Midsommar, Little Women, and The Wonder, she quickly became a heavyweight Hollywood actor. In 2024, Pugh stars in a highly-anticipated blockbuster movie, playing Prince Irulan in Dune: Part Two.

David Krumholtz As Isidor Isaac Rabi

A Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist

David Krumholtz As Isidor Isaac Rabi in a military area in Oppenheimer

David Krumholtz’s Oppenheimer character is Isidor Isaa Rabi. Rabi is another physicist who Oppenheimer meets as a student, and he’s the closest thing Oppenheimer has to a best friend. The physicist is the most likeable character in Oppenheimer, as he refuses to join The Manhattan Project because of his anti-war beliefs until he’s convinced by Oppenheimer, and he stands by Oppenheimer to the very end.

Krumholtz is another example of Nolan’s inspiring casting, as Krumholtz is a comedian first and foremost, and his acting credits don’t lead the audience to believe that he’d play a nuclear physicist. Kumholtz is best known for playing Head Elf Bernard in the Santa Clause franchise, and he played Goldstein in all three Harold & Kumar movies too.

Benny Safdie As Edward Teller

A Hungarian Theoretical Physicist

Benny Safdie next to a military truck in Oppenheimer

Benny Safdie joins the Oppenheimer cast as Edward Teller. Teller is one of the theoretical physicists to work with Robert Oppenheimer on the Manhattan Project. During the scientist’s meetings, Teller has the idea to create the bomb using hydrogen, which doesn’t sit well with Oppenheimer and leads to a falling out between the two physicists. Benny Safdie is best known as part of the directing duo with his brother, Josh Safdie, who directed the crime thrillers Good Time and Uncut Gems. However, Benny Safdie also had roles in Obi-Wan Kenobi and Licorice Pizza.

Josh Hartnett As Ernest Lawrence

A Nobel-Winning Nuclear Physicist

Split image of Josh Hartnett and Ernest Lawrence

Josh Hartnett plays Ernest Lawrence in the Oppenheimer cast. Lawrence is an American nuclear physicist and professor who gives lectures with Oppenheimer. Lawrence is the scientist who essentially recruits Oppenheimer, bringing him on board with the US government to work on the Manhattan Project. Interestingly enough, Hartnett was considered for the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne in Nolan’s Batman Begins but had to decline due to scheduling conflicts.

Hartnett has expressed his disappointment that he wasn’t able to work with Nolan before, so his role in Oppenheimer represents a second chance. The actor is best known for Pearl Harbor and The Faculty.

Matthew Modine As Vannevar Bush

Head Of The Office Of Scientific Research And Development

Split image of Matthew Modine and Vannever Bush

Matthew Modine’s Oppenheimer character is Vannevar Bush. Modine is currently most famous for his role as Dr. Martin Brenner in Stranger Things. He has also worked with Nolan before on The Dark Knight Rises, in which he played GCPD Deputy Commissioner Peter Foley. The actor is also known for playing the lead character U.S. Marine Private/Sergeant J.T. “Joker” Davis in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. Bush is the electrical engineer and inventor who works closely with Oppenheimer and, like Oppenheimer, is conflicted about working on the atomic bomb.

Dylan Arnold As Frank Oppenheimer

Robert’s Younger Brother And A Particle Physicist

Split image of Dylan Arnold and Frank Oppenheimer

Dylan Arnold joins the Oppenheimer cast as Frank Oppenheimer. Frank is Robert Oppenheimer’s younger brother, who is a professor of physics at the University of Colorado. Frank eventually joins his brother at Los Alamos to work on the bomb, but that isn’t until after the government’s reluctance due to his ties to communism. Actor Dylan Arnold is still in the very early stages of his career, but he still has an impressive resume.

He’s already established a reputation as a go-to horror actor, having had roles in The Purge series, 2018’s Halloween reboot, and the Into the Dark anthology series. Most notably, Arnold has previously had roles in Halloween Kills as well as the hit Netflix show You.

Michael Angarano As Robert Serber

A Physicist Who Worked On The Manhattan Project

Split image of Michael Angarano and Robert Serber

Michael Angarano plays Robert Serber in the Oppenheimer cast. Serber is one of the many physicists who work on the Manhattan Project alongside Oppenheimer. He is also a major part of the Trinity test, the spectacular explosion sequence in the movie, that happens in Los Alamos. Michael Angarano is known for his role as a young Nicky Pearson in This Is Us, and the actor was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor for the role. Angarana also appeared in Sky High, Empire State, and Haywire.

Josh Peck As Kenneth Bainbridge

Director Of The Manhattan Project’s Trinity Nuclear Test

Josh Peck as Kenneth Bainbridge looking angry in Oppenheimer

Josh Peck’s Oppenheimer character is Kenneth Bainbridge, the physicist who directs the first test of the atomic bomb, the Trinity test, for the Manhattan Project. Peck’s visibly shaking hand as he hits the button during the Trinity test helps make it one of the most intense sequences of the decade. Peck is mostly known for his comedic role in Drake & Josh, but Oppenheimer proves that he has great dramatic instincts as well.

It isn’t the first time Nolan has gone with outside-the-box casting, as he cast Harry Styles in Dunkirk, and at the time, casting Heath Ledger as the Joker was controversial. Casting Peck continues that trend, but if history has proven anything it’s that when Christopher Nolan defies casting expectations he knows what he’s doing.

Jack Quaid As Richard Feynman

A Theoretical Physicist Who Worked In The Theoretical Division At Los Alamos

Jack Quaid as Richard Feynman stressed in a hallway in Oppenheimer

Jack Quaid joins the Oppenheimer cast as Richard Feynman. Feynman is one of the most influential theoretical physicists in the movie. While Oppenheimer is one of the most emotionally demanding movies of 2023, the one comedic element of the movie is Feynman’s bizarre but hilarious obsession with the bongos. Quaid has become a huge actor and massively in-demand since first playing Hughie Campbell in The Boys.

The actor went on to star in the Scream franchise, voices Peter Parker/Lizard in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, and has a main voice role as Ensign Boimler in Star Trek: Lower Decks too.

Gary Oldman As Harry S. Truman

The President Of The United States

Split image of Gary Oldman and Harry S. Truman

Gary Oldman plays Harry S. Truman in the Oppenheimer cast, and he once again disappears into the role of the 33rd President of the United States. Truman joins the list of iconic villains of Oldman’s, as the President happily takes credit for killing 200,000 people and calls Oppenheimer a “crybaby.” Oldman played Jim Gordon in The Dark Knight trilogy, but he’s no stranger to biopics, and he isn’t a stranger to playing heads of state either. The actor played Winston Churchill, the UK Prime Minister during World War II, in Darkest Hour, which earned him an Oscar for Best Actor.

Danny Deferrari As Enrico Fermi

Italian Nobel-Winning Physicist

Split image of Danny Deferrari and Enrico Fermi

Danny Deferrari’s Oppenheimer character is Enrico Fermi. Fermi is an essential member of the Manhattan Project in Oppenheimer as he created the world’s first nuclear reactor. Deferrari has previously had guest starring roles in shows like Blue Bloods and producer Dick Wolf’s Chicago Med, as well as acting in movies such as Private Life, State of Mind, and the TV miniseries Madoff. The actor is yet to have his major movie break, but Danny Dafarrari’s place on the Oppenheimer should undoubtedly earn him more offers in movies.

Gustaf Skarsgård As Hans Bethe

Head Of The Theoretical Division At Los Alamos

Split image of Gustaf Skarsgard and Hans Bethe

Gustaf Skarsgård joins the Oppenheimer cast as Hans Bethe. Bethe is a nuclear physicist and makes major contributions to The Manhattan Project and even won the Nobel Prize in 1967 for his work on the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis. Skarsgård is best known for his role in Vikings, and he’s the son of Stellan Skarsgård, who currently stars in Andor. The actor comes from an extremely talented family, as he’s the brother of Alexander (The Northman, True Blood) and Bill Skarsgård (It, John Wick: Chapter 4), both of whom have many impressive acting credits to their name as well.

Devon Bostick As Seth Neddermeyer

A Physicist Who Discovered The Muon

Split image of Devon Bostick Seth Neddermeyer

Devon Bostick plays Seth Neddermeyer in the Oppenheimer cast. Seth Neddermeyer is a physicist who champions implosion-type nuclear weapons while working on the Manhattan Project. Devon Bostick’s biggest role to date was his stint as Jasper Jordan on The 100 from 2014-2017, and he led the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie franchise. Nolan’s Oppenheimer movie will be Bostick’s first for the great director and by far the biggest movie he’s worked on to date.

Related

Why Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer Is In Black & White

Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer trailer shows the movie to be mostly black and white, and the reasons why will make the WWII biopic even better.

Christopher Denham As Klaus Fuchs

A Soviet Union Spy

Christopher Denham As Klaus Fuchs in an office holding a pen in Oppenheimer

Christopher Denham joins the Oppenheimer cast as Klaus Fuchs. Fuchs is a German theoretical physicist and an atomic spy who works closely with the Soviet Union and collects information for the Manhattan Project. As Oppenheimer is an espionage thriller just as it is a historical biopic, that element stems from Fuchs’ involvement in the movie, though it doesn’t become clear he’s a spy until the end. Denham has starred in other historical thrillers, including Argo and Charlie Wilson’s War. He’s best known for the series Manhattan, Billions, and Utopia.

Tom Conti As Albert Einstein

Nobel-Winning German Theoretical Physicist

Albert Einstein looking disappointed in Oppenheimer

Tom Conti plays Albert Einstein in the Oppenheimer cast. Einstein is the most revered scientist in Oppenheimer, just like in real life, and the catalyst for Strauss’ hatred for Oppenheimer is the silent conversation between the two scientists that audiences don’t hear until the end. Oppenheimer seeks Einstein’s advice at several points in the movie.

With Einstein being a pacifist, he tells Oppenheimer that what he is doing is wrong. Conti is a beloved Scottish actor, starring in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, Reuben, Reuben, and American Dreamer. The actor had a small role in The Dark Knight Rises, playing the Prisoner who helps nurse Bruce Wayne back to health in The Pit.

Emma Dumont As Jackie Oppenheimer

Frank’s Wife And Robert’s Sister-In-Law

Emma Dumont with green hair in Gifted

Emma Dumont joins the Oppenheimer cast as Jackie Oppenheimer. Jackie Oppenheimer is Robert Oppenheimer’s sister-in-law through her marriage to Robert’s younger brother Frank. Dumont has had small roles in the Paul Thomas Anderson movies Inherent Vice and Licorice Pizza, and she starred in the 2021 Wrong Turn reboot. However, the actor is best known for playing Lorna Dane/Polaris in the X-Men-inspired series The Gifted.

Oppenheimer Supporting Cast Members

Casey Affleck as Boris Pash – Joining the Oppenheimer cast marks Casey Afflecks second collaboration with Nolan after appearing in Insterstellar. Affleck is another Academy Award winner, winning best actor for his performance in Manchester by the Sea. The actor is also known for his role in the Oceans‘ trilogy, and starring in his brother Ben Affleck’s directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone. Pash is a ruthless US Army military officer, and while he’s only in one scene, his interrogation of Oppenheimer is terrifying.

David Dastmalchian as William L. Borden – Borden is used by Strauss to send a letter to the head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, about Oppenheimer being a spy for the Soviets. Though he isn’t an A-list actor, Dastmalchian has been in more superhero franchises than any other actor. The actor played Kurt in the Ant-Man movies, Abra Kadabra in The CW’s The Flash, Polka-Dot Man in The Suicide Squad, and he was even in The Dark Knight, albeit in a small role.

Rami Malek as David Hill – Hill is a physicist who advocates against the use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Malek is an Academy Award-winning actor, as he won Best Actor for playing Freddie Mercury in the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, so it’s a surprise that his role in the Oppenheimer cast is still unknown. Malek also starred in the murder mystery movie The Little Things, and played the Bond villain in No Time to Die.

Kenneth Branagh as Neils Bohr – Neils Bohr is one of Oppenheimer’s biggest influencers, and it’s Bohr who encourages Oppenheimer to travel to Germany. Branagh is one of Nolan’s closest collaborators, having featured in Dunkirk, and he played the villain in Tenet. However, Branagh is a successful director himself, as he directed the first Thor movie, the awards darling Belfast, and even stars in and directs 20th Century Studios’ Hercule Poirot movie series.

Dane DeHaan as Kenneth Nichols – Nichols is an officer of the US Army who is ordered to keep a watchful eye on Oppenheimer during The Manhattan Project. DeHaan’s breakthrough movie was the original superhero film Chronicle. Following that, had a huge 2010s, starring in crime dramas like The Place Beyond the Pines and Lawless. However, the actor is best known for playing Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man franchise.

Alden Ehrenreich as Senate Aide – Ehrenreich plays the aide to Strauss in the Oppenheimer cast, and he helps Strauss through his hearing. Ehrenreich’s biggest role to date was his portrayal of Han Solo in Solo: A Star Wars Story, but he has had other great roles, including his turns in Stoker, Blue Jasmine, and the Coen brothers’ movie Hail, Caesar!

Jason Clarke as Roger RobbRobb is the attorney who is hired by Strauss to question Oppenheimer during his hearing. Clarke is an Australian actor who has starred in both hard-hitting dramas and action blockbusters, making him a perfect cast member for the 2023 movie. The actor starred in historical biopics Zero Dark Thiry and First Man, and he has been in major action movies, including Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Terminator Genisys.

Alex Wolff as Luis Walter Alvarez – Alvarez is another physicist who joins Oppenheimer on The Manhattan Project. Wolff isn’t an obvious choice for a harrowing historical thriller movie, as he’s a Nickelodeon alum, starring in the musical comedy series The Naked Brothers Band and released two soundtrack albums for the show. However, he has since become a brilliant actor, featuring in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and the terrifying and emotionally exhausting Hereditary.

Tony Goldwyn as Gordo Gray – Gray is a government official who was selected by Strauss to sit in on Oppenheimer’s hearing. Goldwyn is best known for playing Carl Bruner in the fantasy thriller Ghost, and he also played the titular character in the 1995 biographical movie Nixon, so starring in historical movies with a political element is Goldwyn’s bread and butter. The actor’s voice might be more recognizable than anything, as he also voiced Tarzan in the 1999 animated Disney movie of the same name.

Scott Grimes as Counsel – Grimes is better known to some as a musician, as he released the Billboard soft rock hit “Sunset Blvd.” and is part of Russell Crowe’s band, Indoor Garden Party. However, like his more famous bandmate, Grimes is also an actor, having featured The Orville, The Night They Saved Christmas, and ER. The actor’s most famous role is as Technical Sergeant Donald Malarkey in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers.

Josh Zuckerman as Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz – Lomanitz is another physicist who works with the scientists in Los Alamos. Zuckerman can be found mostly on TV, as he played Eddie Orlosky in Desperate Housewives, Mark Cullin in Kyle XY, and Max Miller in 90210. The actor’s most notable role to date is his starring role in the movie Sex Drive, but Oppenheimer is his first major movie in the 15 years since.

Related

Oppenheimer Being A “Horror Movie” Makes Christopher Nolan’s $100 Million Box Office Comeback An Even Bigger Risk

Christopher Nolan has described Oppenheimer as a horror movie, and while this is interesting, it also makes the film even riskier than it already was.

James D’Arcy as Patrick Blackett – Blackett is Oppenheimer’s tutor that Oppenheimer tries to poison by injecting cyanide into an apple. Oppenheimer isn’t the first time the English actor has worked with Christopher Nolan, as D’Arcy also featured in Dunkirk, playing Colonel Winnant. The actor also has a very minor role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, playing Howard Stark’s butler, Edwin Jarvis, in both Agent Carter and Avengers: Endgame.

David Rysdahl as Donald Hornig – Horning is an American chemist and explosives expert. Rysdahl doesn’t have many acting credits to his name, but he has starred in a couple of notable indie movies, including Cathy Yan’s dark comedy Dead Pigs and the fantasy drama Nine Days.

Louise Lombard as Ruth Tolman – Ruth Tolman is on the National Defense Research Committee in Oppenheimer. Outside of joining the Oppenheimer cast, Lombard has starred in several long-running running drama series. Lombard played Evangeline Elliot for three years in the BBC drama The House of Eliott, and she played Sofia Curtis in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation for seven years.

Harrison Gilbertson as Philip Morrison – Morrison is a physicist who works with Oppenheimer on The Manhattan Project. Gilbertson has had tons of small roles in big movies, most notably Need for Speed. However, the actor has become a go-to name in the horror genre, as he starred in Upgrade, In the Tall Grass, and several others.

Olli Haaskivi as Edward Condon – Haaskivi is a Finnish actor who has a minor role in the Oppenheimer cast. Condon has a very brief role on the team of Manhattan Project scientists. The actor previously featured in the Edward Norton-directed Motheless Brooklyn, had a small role in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and has a recurring role in AppleTV+’s The Big Cigar.

  • Oppenheimer Poster

    Oppenheimer

    Release Date:
    2023-07-21

    Cast:
    Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Rami Malek, Florence Pugh

    Director:
    Christopher Nolan

    Genres:
    Drama, History, Biography

    Rating:
    R

    Writers:
    Christopher Nolan

    Runtime:
    150 Minutes

    Budget:
    $100 Million

    Studio(s):
    Syncopy Inc., Atlas Entertainment

    Distributor(s):
    Universal Pictures