Cillian Murphy almost played J. Robert Oppenheimer in a 2014 TV show
Before Christopher Nolan's acclaimed epic, another beloved project brought Oppenheimer to the screen.
Cillian Murphy is currently earning some of the best reviews of his career for his lead turn in box-office smash hit Oppenheimer.
In fact, it already looks like he is near certain to receive a Best Actor nomination at next year's Oscars for his performance as American theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer in the Christopher Nolan-directed historical drama epic.
However, it turns out that the Irishman could have played the physicist, also known as the "father of the atomic bomb", nearly 10 years earlier.
This revelation comes from a recent Vanity Fair interview with the makers of Manhattan, a series which ran for two seasons between 2014 and 2015. Like Nolan's latest film, the show depicts the development of the world's first atomic bomb by scientists - including Oppenheimer - at Los Alamos in New Mexico during the '40s.
Manhattan was highly regarded by critics but did not garner enough viewers to prevent its cancellation. That said, the new blockbuster about Oppenheimer and his work during World War II has led to a renewed interest in the project.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, the series' creator Sam Shaw and one of its writers Lila Byock discussed the casting of Oppenheimer in the show, with the real-life figure appearing as a recurring character in Manhattan.
"When we were casting Oppenheimer, we went through a whole series of different ideas. There were actually some rock stars we considered," Byock explains.
Shaw adds: “We wanted Oppenheimer to feel both like he possessed a certain undeniable charisma, a presence onstage, but also that he was playing a different instrument. He needed to feel alien - or other - in some ways. He stood out.”
Among those Byock and Shaw say were in consideration for the role include musicians Beck and David Bowie, a then relatively unknown Ebon Moss-Bacharach (Andor, The Bear) and apparently Cillian Murphy.
"A thousand percent, Cillian Murphy was on that list,” Shaw tells Vanity Fair.
However, the series wound up casting Daniel London - best known for his role in Steven Spielberg's Minority Report - due to his uncanny likeness to Oppenheimer and the way he captured the physicist's essence.
“Oppenheimer was a guy who was famous for being extremely charming when he needed to be, but also extraterrestrial in his erudition and I think Daniel really got to that," Shaw states.
However, while Murphy's casting was not to be, Manhattan and the new blockbuster do both share an actor in Christopher Denham. He played the fictional scientist Jim Meeks in the series and also plays the real-life Klaus Fuchs in the movie.
Meanwhile, you can check out JOE's interview with Murphy for Oppenheimer right here:
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