Christopher Nolan explains why Oppenheimer sex scenes are essential

Chris Tilly
Florence Pugh in Oppenheimer.Universal Pictures

Christopher Nolan is in the midst of a press tour for new movie Oppenheimer, during which he’s explained why sex scenes are essential to the story.

Christopher Nolan isn’t known for his sex scenes. From early thrillers like Memento and Insomnia, through the Dark Knight trilogy, and on into sci-fi features like Inception, Interstellar, and Tenet, love-making rarely makes it into his narratives.

Oppenheimer is different however. The film revolves around the birth of the atomic bomb. But also details title character J. Robert Oppenheimer’s torrid personal life.

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One of his loves was Jean Tatlock, played by Florence Pugh in the movie. And Nolan has been explaining why sex scenes between the character’s are essential to his film.

Christopher Nolan explains why Oppenheimer sex scenes are essential

“When you look at Oppenheimer’s life and you look at his story, that aspect of his life, the aspect of his sexuality, his way with women, the charm that he exuded, it’s an essential part of his story,” Nolan tells Insider.

Of the Jean Tatlock scenes, Nolan says: “It felt very important to understand their relationship and to really see inside it and understand what made it tick without being coy or allusive about it, but to try to be intimate, to try and be in there with him and fully understand the relationship that was so important to him.”

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As for shooting such sequences, Nolan adds: “Any time you’re challenging yourself to work in areas you haven’t worked in before, you should be appropriately nervous and appropriately careful and planned and prepared.”

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Who is Jean Tatlock?

This is how the official production notes describe Jean Tatlock: “An intellectual, deep-feeling introvert, sensual, free-spirited, yet prone to bouts of melancholy, Jean Tatlock was a Stanford-educated psychiatrist who had an intense yet tortured romance with J. Robert Oppenheimer.”

When asked about playing the character, Florence Pugh states: “Jean’s blunt and knows what she wants, and at no point is she ever punished for it, especially not by Oppenheimer.

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“With Oppenheimer, Jean’s completely in control and in her element. Creating a woman with that much power, as well as all these other complex aspects to her, and to create her relationship with Oppenheimer in collaboration with Chris and Cillian, was itself a powerful, empowering experience, and endlessly interesting.”

Oppenheimer is in cinemas now, and you can find more coverage below:

| Oppenheimer review | Epic runtime revealed | R-rating explained | Best way to watch Oppenheimer | Christopher Nolan on sex scenes | Cast and characters | Filming locations | True story explained | Is Oppenheimer streaming? | Nolan ranked by Rotten Tomato scoresIs it based on a book? | Age-gap controversy explained Robert Pattinson’s influence | How Oppenheimer died | Christopher Nolan explains strange script | Did Japan ban Oppenheimer? | Review roundup | Does Oppenheimer have a post-credits scene? | Who dies? | Box officeEnding explained |

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About The Author

Chris Tilly is the TV and Movies Editor at Dexerto. He has a BA in English Literature, an MA in Newspaper Journalism, and over the last 20 years, he's worked for the likes of Time Out, IGN, and Fandom. Chris loves Star Wars, Marvel, DC, sci-fi, and especially horror, while he knows maybe too much about Alan Partridge. You can email him here: