Oppenheimer’s age gap controversy explained as fans fume over love story

Meera Jacka
Oppenheimer’s age gap controversy explained as fans fume over love story

Expected in cinemas on July 21, there is lots of discussion surrounding Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. But not all of it is positive, with some fans not happy about the age gap of the featured love story.

Oppenheimer is one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, and it’s nearly upon us.

As a biopic about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist behind the invention of the atomic bomb, and Christopher Nolan’s first R-rated movie since 2002’s Insomnia, Oppenheimer is sure to be a memorable watch.

With fans preparing to witness Nolan’s latest work, many have focused on the all-star cast — especially one particular pairing.

Murphy and Pugh
Pugh and Murphy as Tatlock and Oppenheimer

47-year-old Cillian Murphy will be taking on the titular role of Oppenheimer, with Florence Pugh in a supportive role beside him as psychiatrist Jean Tatlock.

Oppenheimer and Tatlock shared a romantic relationship and a real-life 10-year age gap, but this has been magnified in the film. You see, Pugh is 20 years younger than Murphy at just 27.

Fans have called this a “miscast,” questioning the need to double the distance between the two characters and feeling uncomfortable over the age gap. Unlikely to help the situation is the promise of a “prolonged full nudity” scene between Murphy and Pugh.

Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer.
Cillian Murphy will play Oppenheimer in various stages throughout his life.

Many feel the age gap is representative of a long-standing problem in Hollywood. Older male actors are almost always given a much younger love interest, though this is rarely the case when the roles are reversed.

One Redditor said, “I know there’s a lot of hype around Oppenheimer, and I’m a huge fan of Cillian Murphy and Florence Pugh… but he’s 46 and she’s 26.”

However, others have defended the casting choice as representative of the time, while also pointing out that Oppenheimer survived much longer than Tatlock and would therefore need an older actor.

Fans of Pugh have also clapped back at those infantilizing the actress, “Florence Pugh is 27 years old. She is not a child. Power dynamics are important to discuss when appropriate but this is a MOVIE and Pugh is a grown woman. No need to infantilize her and remove her agency.”

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About The Author

Meera Jacka is a Senior Entertainment and Trending News Writer on the Australian Dexerto team. She completed her undergrad at Curtin University with a double major in professional writing and publishing and creative writing, graduating with Honours in creative writing. A horror fan with a guilty pleasure in reality TV, Meera covers all things entertainment and trending news, with the occasional film and gaming content thrown in the mix. Contact Meera at meera.jacka@dexerto.com