Oppenheimer cast: All actors & characters
Here’s your extensive guide to the star-studded cast of Christopher Nolan’s historical epic Oppenheimer, including the actors and the characters they play.
In a cinematic age of dying auteurs, Nolan is easily the most widely-known modern-day filmmaker; every time he comes to theaters, it is one of the biggest must-see events of the year. Just look at Tenet, which grossed more than $365 million worldwide – that’s more than The Flash made this year.
His Dark Knight trilogy made him a legend in mainstream movies, but he’s far from a one-trick pony, making banger after banger since the turn of the millennium, whether it’s Insomnia, The Prestige, Inception, or Interstellar.
Oppenheimer is his latest epic vision, exploring the tortured, cataclysmic life of “the most important man who ever lived… the man who moved the Earth” – so, here’s everyone in the cast.
- J. Robert Oppenheimer: Cillian Murphy
- Katherine “Kitty” Oppenheimer: Emily Blunt
- Leslie Groves: Matt Damon
- Lewis Strauss: Robert Downey Jr.
- Jean Tatlock: Florence Pugh
- Ernest Lawrence: Josh Hartnett
- Boris Pash: Casey Affleck
- David Hill: Rami Malek
- Niels Bohr: Kenneth Branagh
- Edward Teller: Benny Safdie
- Frank Oppenheimer: Dylan Arnold
- Hans Bethe: Gustaf Skarsgård
- Isidor Isaac Rabi: David Krumholtz
- Vannevar Bush: Matthew Modine
- William L. Borden: David Dastmalchian
- Albert Einstein: Tom Conti
- Robert Serber: Michael Angarano
- Richard Feynman: Jack Quaid
- Kenneth Bainbridge: Josh Peck
- Lilli Hornig: Olivia Thirlby
- Kenneth Nichols: Dane DeHaan
- Enrico Fermi: Danny Deferrari
- Senate aide: Alden Ehrenreich
- Haakon Chevalier: Jefferson Hall
- Roger Robb: Jason Clarke
- Patrick Blackett: James D’Arcy
- Gordon Gray: Tony Goldwyn
- Seth Neddermeyer: Devon Bostick
- Luis Walter Alvarez: Alex Wolff
- Counsel: Scott Grimes
- Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz: Josh Zuckerman
- Werner Heisenberg: Matthias Schweighöfer
- Klaus Fuchs: Christopher Denham
- Donald Hornig: David Rysdahl
- George Eltenton: Guy Burnet
- Ruth Tolman: Louise Lombard
- Philip Morrison: Harrison Gilbertson
- Jackie Oppenheimer: Emma Dumont
- George Kistiakowsky: Trond Fausa Aurvåg
- Edward Condon: Olli Haaskivi
- Harry S. Truman: Gary Oldman
- Ward Evans: John Gowans
- Thomas A. Morgan: Kurt Koehler
- Lloyd Garrison: Macon Blair
- Gale W. McGee: Harry Groener
- Lyall Johnson: Jack Cutmore-Scott
- Henry Stimson: James Remar
- Warren Magnuson: Gregory Jbara
- John Pastore: Tim DeKay
- Kurt Gödel: James Urbaniak
- Burn victim: Flora Nolan
Oppenheimer cast and characters
Below, you’ll find a list of all the major characters in the Oppenheimer cast.
The official synopsis reads: “Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer is an IMAX®-shot epic thriller that thrusts audiences into the pulse-pounding paradox of the enigmatic man who must risk destroying the world in order to save it.”
J. Robert Oppenheimer: Cillian Murphy
Cillian Murphy plays J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb.”
The star told AP: “I have always said publicly and privately, to Chris, that if I’m available and you want me to be in a movie, I’m there. I don’t really care about the size of the part. But deep down, secretly, I was desperate to play a lead for him.”
Murphy is best known for playing Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders, as well as his roles in 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and his earlier work with Nolan in Inception and Dunkirk.
Katherine “Kitty” Oppenheimer: Emily Blunt
Emily Blunt plays Katherine Oppenheimer, the wife of the titular physicist.
In an interview with Collider, Blunt admitted she was nervous about all the science when she first read the script, but she soon realized that was the “backdrop… that’s not what’s so pulsating about it. It was such an emotional script to read. It’s really about the trauma of living with a brain like that and the ramifications of what that brain brought to the world.”
Blunt has also starred in The Devil Wears Prada, A Quiet Place Part 1 and 2, Edge of Tomorrow, Sicario, and Mary Poppins Returns.
Leslie Groves: Matt Damon
Matt Damon plays Leslie Groves, a US Army Corps of Engineers officer and the director of the Manhattan Project.
Damon also told Collider: “It’s the biggest story of our lives, maybe in the history of the human species so far, told by a director who’s at the absolute top of his game, with one of the great screen performances at the center of it.”
Damon is best known for his role in the Bourne franchise, as well as the Ocean’s movies, Good Will Hunting, The Martian, and his earlier work with Nolan in Interstellar.
Lewis Strauss: Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. plays Lewis Strauss, a founding commissioner of the Atomic Energy Commission in
1947, playing a key role in shaping America’s post-war nuclear policy.
At the movie’s UK premiere, the star said: “This is the best film I’ve ever been in, and I cannot wait for you all to experience it. No matter what your expectations are and what you might think, it transcends them. This is what a summer blockbuster, when I was growing up, used to be. It just kind of changed your life. But again it’s why Christopher Nolan is who he is.”
Downey is best known for playing Tony Stark/Iron Man in the MCU, as well as starring in Sherlock Holmes, Tropic Thunder, Zodiac, and Chaplin.
Jean Tatlock: Florence Pugh
Florence Pugh plays Jean Tatlock, a “Stanford-educated psychiatrist who had an intense yet tortured romance with J. Robert Oppenheimer.”
Of her experience, the actress said: “It’s a Christopher Nolan movie, number one, and number two, he has one of the most incredible leads. Cillian Murphy is an actor that I have been watching for quite some time and have been desperate to work with for ages. You’d have to be mad to say no. It felt like I was playing sports with some of the best athletes, so it was truly one of the best experiences that I’ve had.”
Pugh is known for her performances in Little Women, Midsommar, Don’t Worry Darling, and playing Yelena Belova in the MCU.
Ernest Lawrence: Josh Hartnett
Josh Hartnett plays Ernest Lawrence, a key physicist in the Manhattan Project who’s best known for his work on the uranium-isotope separation.
Hartnett explained: “I knew a bit about Oppenheimer, but not Lawrence and how he was instrumental in creating nuclear weapons and what is now our 21st century dilemma. He’s the most important and impressive historical figure from the 20th Century that I knew nothing about. He developed the cyclotron, developed the concept of big science, he basically gave birth to what is now the super-collider. Everything has changed because of this guy and his tinkering.”
The actor has also appeared in Lucky Number Slevin, 40 Days and 40 Nights, The Faculty, Black Hawk Down, and Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre.
Boris Pash: Casey Affleck
Casey Affleck plays Boris Pash, chief of army counter-intelligence at the Presidio in San Francisco.
Affleck is known for his work in Manchester by the Sea, Gone Baby Gone, the Ocean’s movies, A Ghost Story, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
David Hill: Rami Malek
Rami Malek plays David Hill, an associate experimental physicist.
Malek won an Oscar for his performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, while he’s also known for his roles in Mr. Robot, Night at the Museum, No Time to Die, and Until Dawn.
Niels Bohr: Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Branagh plays Niels Bohr, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist “revered by Oppenheimer and other scientists of his generation for his study of atomic structure and famed ‘Copenhagen Interpretation’ of quantum mechanics.”
As Branagh explained: “Even though Oppenheimer didn’t necessarily spend that much time with him, Bohr was really significant to him. Chris had this idea that he had sort of an Obi-Wan Kenobi relationship to Oppenheimer, so it was worth thinking about in those terms. Bohr was, in a way, a magician, someone who understood some degrees more than what Oppenheimer understood.”
Branagh is an Academy Award-winning director, writer, and actor known for his work in Shakespeare adaptations such as Hamlet, Henry V, and Much Ado About Nothing, as well as Thor, Murder on the Orient Express, and Belfast.
Edward Teller: Benny Safdie
Benny Safdie plays Edward Teller, a theoretical physicist known for being the “father of the hydrogen bomb.”
The role presented an “amazing confluence” of the star’s own interests. “I almost became a physicist; I was like this close. There was a moment in my life where it was like, ‘movies or physics.’ I chose movies, but all through high school, I was learning about the standard model and quantum mechanics. I was studying with a teacher at Columbia University and visiting major laboratories, all the things one does when seriously thinking about becoming a physicist. So, it was kind of insane that Chris asked me to do this,” the actor revealed.
Safdie is known for his directing work alongside his brother Josh, including Uncut Gems and Good Time, as well as his performances in Licorice Pizza and Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.
Frank Oppenheimer: Dylan Arnold
Dylan Arnold plays Frank Oppenheimer, Robert’s younger brother and a particle physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project.
The actor spoke to Frank’s son Michael to research the role. “There isn’t a ton of stuff out there on him. However, it was very easy to prepare and do the research because I found him endlessly fascinating.”
Hans Bethe: Gustaf Skarsgård
Gustaf Skarsgård plays Hans Bethe, who headed the theoretical division of the Manhattan Project and developed the design for the bombs detonated at Trinity and Nagasaki.
“We are living in a world that was created as a direct consequence of the Manhattan Project. I grew up in the 1980s in Sweden, right next door to the Soviet Union, and I remember we had to do safety drills in bunkers under our school. That was the reality then, and now we must worry if we’re going back to that.”
Skarsgård is known for his work in Vikings, Evil, Cursed, and The Emigrants.
Isidor Isaac Rabi: David Krumholtz
David Krumholtz plays Isidor Isaac Rabi, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who worked as a consultant on the Manhattan Project.
The actor said: “Some of the film is about Robert Oppenheimer not necessarily having all the chips. He was an extreme genius, but he lacked balance in his life. But Rabi was Oppenheimer’s opposite; Rabi had extraordinary balance. I wanted to bring that sense of wisdom to the role, this old-soul quality to him, this compassion, which he showed especially to Oppenheimer. He was like a brother to him, like family.”
Krumholtz has also starred in Numb3rs, Serenity, The Deuce, and The Santa Clause franchise.
Vannevar Bush: Matthew Modine
Matthew Modine plays Vannevar Bush, the head of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development who mobilized the military-industrial complex to pursue fission.
“The first atomic explosion at Los Alamos unleashed a monster that could never be leashed again. As a kindergartner, crawling under my school desk, I didn’t understand if this drill was a present or existential threat. Today I understand the drill was both – and ever-present,” the actor said.
Modine is best known for his performance in Full Metal Jacket, as well as playing Dr. Brenner in Stranger Things.
William L. Borden: David Dastmalchian
David Dastmalchian plays William L. Borden, a “zealous advocate for US nuclear superiority” who became the executive director of the US Congress Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. He also believed Oppenheimer was a Soviet spy.
In a press release, the actor discussed researching the real-life figure, saying: “I believe in my heart that Borden truly, truly believed that Oppenheimer was an enemy of the state and so bringing him down and stopping him from having influence over our government and military was paramount. That was a simple objective for me when I started building the character.”
Dastmalchian has also starred in Prisoners, The Suicide Squad, Dune, and he worked with Nolan in The Dark Knight.
Albert Einstein: Tom Conti
Tom Conti plays Albert Einstein, the most iconic and influential scientist of all time.
Speaking in a press release about he prepared to play him, the actor said: “Having a moustache is hateful and when it comes to moustaches, Albert wasn’t a minimalist. You can’t eat soup or spaghetti and without those, life is diminished. Einstein’s accent is phenomenally important. Fortunately, it’s a sound with which I’m very familiar. Since I live in Europe, I grew up with people who spoke like him – just the accent of course. The physics? Maybe not so much.”
Conti has also appeared in Friends, Paddington 2, The Dark Knight Rises, and Reuben, Reuben.
Robert Serber: Michael Angarano
Michael Angarano plays Robert Serber, a physicist who was part of the Manhattan Project.
Angarano is also known for his work in Music of the Heart, Cover Me, Will & Grace, Haywire, and This is Us.
Richard Feynman: Jack Quaid
Jack Quaid plays Richard Feynman, another physicist on the Manhattan Project.
“Shooting that was such an incredible experience. Like, I’m like a blip in that movie, but it was just so incredible to sit there and watch true masters do what they do,” he told the Bingeworthy podcast.
Quaid is best known for playing Hughie in The Boys, but he’s also starred in Scream, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Star Trek: Lower Decks.
Kenneth Bainbridge: Josh Peck
Josh Peck plays Kenneth Bainbridge, a physicist who was the director of the Manhattan Project’s Trinity nuclear test.
Peck is best known for his role in Drake & Josh, as well as roles in Mean Creek, Red Dawn, How I Met Your Father, and the Turner & Hooch remake.
Lilli Hornig: Olivia Thirlby
Olivia Thirlby plays Lilly Hornig, a Czech-American scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project.
Thirlby is best known for her role in Dredd, as well as starring in Juno, The Darkest Hour, The Wedding Ringer, and White Orchid.
Kenneth Nichols: Dane DeHaan
Dane DeHaan plays Kenneth Nichols, a US army officer and civil engineer who worked on the Manhattan Project.
DeHaan is also known for his performances in Chronicle, A Cure For Wellness, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Kill Your Darlings.
Enrico Fermi: Danny Deferrari
Danny Deferrari plays Enrico Fermi, a physicist who created the world’s first nuclear reactor. He’s also known as the “architect of the nuclear age.”
Defarri has also appeared in Shiva Baby, Hedgehog, Wilder Than Her, and Madoff.
Senate aide: Alden Ehrenreich
Alden Ehrenreich makes an appearance in Oppenheimer as a Senate aide.
Ehrenreich is known for his roles in Hail Caesar, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Cocaine Bear, and Beautiful Creatures.
Haakon Chevalier: Jefferson Hall
Jefferson Hall plays Haakon Chevalier, a Berkeley professor who became friends with Oppenheimer at university. Their relationship became a prominent point in his 1954 security hearing.
Roger Robb: Jason Clarke
Jason Clarke plays Roger Robb, a circuit judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit who served as special counsel to Oppenheimer’s security hearing.
In an interview with The Upcoming, Clarke said he believes the film will “last and stand the test of time.”
Clarke has also starred in Zero Dark Thirty, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Everest, First Man, and Pet Sematary.
Patrick Blackett: James D’Arcy
James D’Arcy plays Patrick Blackett, a British experimental physicist who advised on military strategy and operational research in World War II.
D’Arcy is best known for starring in Broadchurch, Dunkirk, Master and Commander, and playing Edwin Jarvis in Agent Carter and Avengers: Endgame.
Gordon Gray: Tony Goldwyn
Tony Goldwyn plays Gordon Gray, President Truman’s assistant secretary of the US army.
Goldwyn has also starred in Tarzan, The Last House on the Left remake, The Last Samurai, Scandal, and Murder Mystery 2.
Seth Neddermeyer: Devon Bostick
Devon Bostick plays Seth Neddermeyer, a physicist who discovered the muon and advocated for the implosion-type nuclear weapon used in the Trinity Test.
Bostick is best known for his performance as Rodrick in the live-action Diary of the Wimpy Kid movies.
Luis Walter Alvarez: Alex Wolff
Alex Wolff plays Luis Walter Alvarez, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project.
Wolff is also known for his performances in Hereditary, Pig, Old, and the newer Jumanji movies.
Counsel: Scott Grimes
Scott Grimes stars in Oppenheimer, and while his exact role hasn’t been confirmed, he’s expected to play a counsellor during the 1954 security hearing.
Grimes has also starred in Band of Brothers, Party of Five, American Dad, and The Orville.
Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz: Josh Zuckerman
Josh Zuckerman plays Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz, an American physicist who became Oppenheimer’s protégé at Berkeley and later became an important figure in his security hearing.
Zuckerman has starred in Sex Drive, Kyle XY, Desperate Housewives, 90210, The Offer, and School Spirits.
Werner Heisenberg: Matthias Schweighöfer
Matthias Schweighöfer plays Werner Heisenberg, a German Nobel Prize-winning physicist who worked in the country’s nuclear weapons program during World War II.
Schweighöfer has also starred in What a Man, Break Up Man, Joy of Fatherhood, The Manny, Army of the Dead, and Army of Thieves.
Klaus Fuchs: Christopher Denham
Christopher Denham plays Klaus Fuchs, a German physicist who spied on the Manhattan Project for the Soviet Union during World War II.
Denham has appeared in Argo, Being the Ricardos, Shutter Island, Utopia, Money Monster, and Utopia. He also starred in Manhattan, a series about the creation of the atomic bomb.
Donald Hornig: David Rysdahl
David Rysdahl plays Donald Hornig, an explosives export who served as a group leader in the Manhattan Project. He was also the husband of Lilli Hornig.
Rysdahl has also starred in Nine Days, No Exit, and The Family.
George Eltenton: Guy Burnet
Guy Burnet plays George Eltenton, a chemical engineer in the US with ties to the Soviet Union.
Burnet has appeared in Mortdecai, Pitch Perfect 3, The Feed, Chicago Fire, and Hand of God.
Ruth Tolman: Louise Lombard
Louise Lombard plays Ruth Tolman, a psychologist close to Oppenheimer during the development of the atomic bomb.
Lombard is known for her roles in Hidalgo, the After series, The House of Eliott, and Grimm.
Philip Morrison: Harrison Gilbertson
Harrison Gilbertson plays Philip Morrison, a physics professor who worked on the Manhattan Project. He also helped load the aircrafts that carried the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Gilbertson has also starred in Beneath Hill 60, The Turning, Need for Speed, Hounds of Love, and Upgrade.
Jackie Oppenheimer: Emma Dumont
Emma Dumont plays Jackie Oppenheimer, Frank’s wife and Robert’s sister-in-law.
Dumont has also appeared in Inherent Vice, Wrong Turn, Licorice Pizza, Aquarius, and The Gifted.
George Kistiakowsky: Trond Fausa Aurvåg
Trond Fausa Aurvåg plays George Kistiakowsky, a Harvard professor who took part in the Manhattan Project, specifically assisting with the development of the implosion-type weapon.
Aurvåg has also starred in Lilyhammer, Norsemen, The Innocents, and The Middle Man.
Edward Condon: Olli Haaskivi
Olli Haaskivi plays Edward Condon, a nuclear physicist who helped with the development of radar and briefly took part in the Manhattan Project.
Haaskivi has also appeared in Motherless Brooklyn, The Sinner, Manifest, The Deuce, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Harry S. Truman: Gary Oldman
Gary Oldman makes a surprise appearance as Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States.
Oldman is an Oscar-winning actor who famously played Commissioner Jim Gordon in the Dark Knight trilogy, as well as starring in True Romance, Léon the Professional, and the Harry Potter franchise, among other movies and shows.
Ward Evans: John Gowans
John Gowans plays Ward Evans, who served as one of the panel members at Oppenheimer’s security clearance hearing.
Gowans has also starred in Shameless, Yellowstone, Big Love, Numb3rs, Dallas, and Stingray.
Thomas A. Morgan: Kurt Koehler
Kurt Koehler plays Thomas A. Morgan, an industrialist and former chairman of the board of the Sperry Corporation who was one of the panel members at Oppenheimer’s security clearance hearing.
Lloyd Garrison: Macon Blair
Macon Blair plays Lloyd Garrison, a lawyer who helped to represent Oppenheimer at his security clearance hearing.
Blair is best known for starring in Blue Ruin and Green Room.
Gale W. McGee: Harry Groener
Harry Groener plays Gale W. McGee, a professor and politician who became a US Senator in 1959 and served as the Ambassador to the Organization of American States between 1977-1981.
Groener has also appeared in Road to Perdition, A Cure for Wellness, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and How I Met Your Mother.
Lyall Johnson: Jack Cutmore-Scott
Jack Cutmore-Scott plays Lyall Johnson, a security officer at Berkeley who worked at the Manhattan Project.
Cutmore-Scott has also starred in Kingsman: The Secret Service, Dunkirk, Tenet, and Deception.
Henry Stimson: James Remar
James Remar plays Henry Stimson, Secretary of War under President Truman.
Remar is best known for playing Ajax in The Warriors, as well as starring in 48 Hrs, Miracle on 34th Street, The Cotton Club, Dexter, and Gotham.
Warren Magnuson: Gregory Jbara
Gregory Jbara plays Warren Magnuson, a US senator.
Jbara has also appeared in Blue Bloods, Big Miracle, Remember Me, and Epic Movie.
John Pastore: Tim DeKay
Tim DeKay plays John Pastore, the governor of Rhode Island who became a senator in 1950.
DeKay has also appeared in Swordfish, Get Smart, Party of Five, Carnivale, Tell Me You Love Me, and Lucifer.
Kurt Gödel: James Urbaniak
James Urbaniak plays Kurt Gödel, regarded as one of the greatest logicians since Aristotle for his work on the incompleteness theorem – we’d explain it if we knew how.
You may know Urbaniak from his appearances in The Office, For All Mankind, The Fabelmans, Review, and Difficult People.
Burn victim: Flora Nolan
Flora Nolan, Christopher Nolan’s daughter, has a brief role as a character whose face is blown off by a nuclear explosion.
Nolan was looking for someone for a “small part of a somewhat experimental and spontaneous sequence”, and Flora was perfect. She also made an appearance in Interstellar. You can read more here.
Oppenheimer is in cinemas now, and you can find more coverage below:
Oppenheimer review | Ending explained | Epic runtime revealed | R-rating explained | Best way to watch Oppenheimer | Christopher Nolan on sex scenes | Filming locations | True story explained | Is Oppenheimer streaming? | Nolan ranked by Rotten Tomato scores | Is it based on a book? | Age-gap controversy explained | 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? | Why you struggle to hear Nolan’s movies | Oppenheimer’s improvised line | Could Oppenheimer earn $1bn? | Highest grossing R-rated movies