Christopher Nolan is adding more star power to his World War II drama “Oppenheimer.”
Oscar winner Rami Malek, Oscar nominee Florence Pugh and “Uncut Gems” director Benny Safdie have joined an ensemble that already includes Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt.
The film, with its oh-so-commercial-sounding story about the development of the atomic bomb, is an artistic and financial risk for Nolan and Universal Studios. It carries a $100 million budget, and adult dramas have not fared too well at the box office of late, even those with major stars such as Will Smith’s “King Richard” or Damon’s “The Last Duel.” But Nolan usually has a keen sense of what audiences want, making twisty thrillers like “Inception” into blockbusters and scoring with critics and audiences with another World War II epic, “Dunkirk.” It should probably be noted, however, that “Dunkirk” has a much more uplifting ending than the potential armageddon wrought by Robert Oppenheimer and company’s discovery of a way to turn nuclear reactions into a devastating weapon.
Malek recently starred as the villain in the James Bond sequel “No Time to Die,” Pugh picked up the baton from Scarlett Johansson in Marvel’s “Black Widow,” and Safdie had a supporting role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza.”
Nolan’s film is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer” by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. Murphy will star as Oppenheimer, with Malek playing a scientist, Pugh appearing as Jean Tatlock, a Communist Party member who has a love affair with Oppenheimer, and Safdie starring as Edward Teller, a physicist involved in the Manhattan Project.
Pugh is repped by CAA, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and UK’s Curtis Brown Group. Malek is repped by WME and Brillstein, Safdie by WME, Untitled Entertainment and Lichter Grossman.
The Hollywood Reporter broke the news of Malek, Pugh and Safdie’s casting.