Christopher Nolan Explains Why He Loved Watching Robert Downey Jr.'s Performance In Oppenheimer

Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark at the end of Iron Man
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The cast of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer is comprised of some of the greatest actors working right now. With Cillian Murphy leading the ensemble as J. Robert Oppenheimer, he’ll be joined by heavyweights like Matt Damon, Florence Pugh, Gary Oldman and Kenneth Branagh. Another massive name among the A-list cast is Robert Downey Jr., and Nolan has nothing but good things to say about the Iron Man actor’s performance in Oppenheimer

In an interview with Total Film (via Games Radar) Nolan talked about working with his incredible cast, and he specifically spoke about what it was like watching RDJ perform, saying: 

We all know that Robert Downey Jr. is one of the great movie stars. It’s so easy to forget that he’s also one of the greatest actors of all time. Watching him lose himself in that performance, and completely lose himself in a character in this way, was just an incredible reminder of just what an amazing actor he is.

In Oppenheimer, Downey will be playing Lewis Strauss, a naval officer who served two terms on the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. According to the Atomic Heritage Foundation Strauss played a significant role in the Oppenheimer security hearing, which resulted in Oppenheimer’s security clearance being revoked. Based on this, it sounds like Downey will be going toe to toe with Murphy in the film, and watching these two powerhouses perform must have been incredible, as Nolan noted. 

Based on the Oppenheimer trailer and the brief moment you can hear Downey’s voice over the intense music, I was already sold on him being absolutely incredible in this film. So, to hear this from Nolan, who has directed some incredible actors like Heath Ledger and Leonardo DiCaprio, I’m 100% positive Downey’s performance will be phenomenal. 

While many who have watched the Marvel movies in order know Downey as one of the pioneers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the beloved Tony Stark, he also has many other great movies where he has immersed himself into fantastic roles. 

RDJ has been nominated for two films, Chaplin and Tropic Thunder, and that alone shows how versatile he is as an actor, because those two movies couldn’t be more different. He’s also received acclaim for his work in the Marvel movies as Iron Man, as well as other films like Sherlock Holmes and Good Night, and Good Luck

As someone who is most familiar with Downey because of his time in the Marvel films, I can’t wait to see him transform into a completely different character. I also can’t wait to see him perform alongside this insanely talented cast. 

Along with Oppenheimer, RDJ has some other exciting upcoming projects, including a TV show with Sandra Oh called The Sympathizer, as well as Sherlock Holmes 3. All these gigs sound completely different, and I can’t wait to see how he transforms himself for each role.

Sadly we’ll have to wait a while to see any of these projects. However, don’t fret because while we wait for Oppenheimer to be released on the 2023 film schedule, there is plenty of work from RDJ you can check out, like his phenomenal documentary about his father, Sr., which can be streamed with a Netflix subscription

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She has written for national publications as well as daily and alt-weekly newspapers in Spokane, Washington, Syracuse, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated with her master’s degree in arts journalism and communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Since joining the CB team she has covered numerous TV shows and movies -- including her personal favorite shows Ted Lasso and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She also has followed and consistently written about everything from Taylor Swift to Fire Country, and she's enjoyed every second of it.