Christopher Nolan let Oppenheimer actor improvise shocking line

Kayla Harrington
Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Christopher Nolan has revealed that he let one of his actors improvise a shocking line in his movie Oppenheimer.

There’s a lot of things to say about Christopher Nolan’s latest biopic Oppenheimer — it’s bombastic, well-written, and has one of the most intense scenes of 2023 so far.

The movie follows the life and work of J. Robert Oppenheimer, who’s known as the father of the atomic bomb.

While the entirety of Nolan’s screenplay can be purchased online, the director has revealed that one of the film’s most shocking lines was completely improvised.

One of Oppenheimer’s shocking lines was made up on the spot

While speaking with The New York Times, Nolan revealed that one of Oppenheimer’s most stomach-churning lines was completely improvised by the actor.

During the scene where Cillian Murphy’s Oppenheimer is meeting with US Secretary of War Henry Stimson and other government officials about where to drop the atomic bombs in Japan, Stimson tells the group to avoid bombing Kyoto because “that’s where my wife and I honeymooned.”

The line, along with Stimson’s off-hand delivery, makes the viewer feel ill as it’s obvious that he frames the atomic bombs’ destructive repercussions around his own interests.

Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer

Nolan went on to explain that James Remar, the actor playing Stimson, created that shocking line of dialogue on the spot.

Due to the film’s massive cast, Nolan’s script is mostly told through Oppenheimer’s perspective, so he encouraged his supporting actors to do their own thorough research on their roles and that’s where Remar discovered Stimson honeymooned in Kyoto.

“There’s a moment where James Remar… He kept talking to me about how he learned that Stimson and his wife had honeymooned in Kyoto,” Nolan said. “That was one of the reasons that Stimson took Kyoto off the list to be bombed. I had him crossing the city off the list because of its cultural significance, but I’m like, ‘Just add that.’ It’s a fantastically exciting moment where no one in the room knows how to react.”

Nolan, and by extension his actors, did a fantastic job portraying how callous some officials were about the horrors surrounding the bomb and its effects on the people they dropped it on. This line is the perfect symbol of the lack of empathy when it comes to war and human life.

Oppenheimer is in theaters now, and you can read more about the movie below:

Oppenheimer review | Ending explained | 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 scores | Is 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? | Box office | Was Jean Tatlock murdered? | What happened to Kitty? | Why did Lewis Strauss hate Oppenheimer? | Did Oppenheimer win a Nobel Prize?

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About The Author

Kayla is a TV and Movies Writer at Dexerto. She's huge fan of Marvel (especially if Wanda Maximoff is involved), shows that make you laugh then cry, and any cooking show found on the Food Network. Before Dexerto, she wrote for Mashable, BuzzFeed, and The Mary Sue. You can contact her at