Christopher Nolan is hard at work on his next movie, a biopic of J. Robert Oppenheimer, and his leadership of the Manhattan Project that led to the invention of the atomic bomb. Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt have already joined the cast in lead roles and now Deadline is reporting that Nolan’s got two other big actors in the works. Robert Downey Jr. and Matt Damon are in talks to join as well.
In life, Oppenheimer was a dramatic figure. Though his professional legacy left him with the self-proclaimed title of “death, the destroyer of worlds,” he was romantically involved with several high profile leftwing activists including the love of life Katherine “Kitty” Puening, a brilliant scientist and fierce advocate for Communism. Oppenheimer’s associations with the Communist Party would be a political liability for most of his life and eventually led to a revocation of his security clearance following an investigation into his background. Historians are divided as to whether Oppenheimer himself was a member of the Communist Party — his own statements are contradictory — but the relational associations were enough to cause an enormous amount of high level chaos during the Manhattan Project, when paranoia around Communism was running high.
It’s not clear where Downey and Damon fit into this whole fascinating story, but it’s an interesting fit for Nolan. Though he’s best known as the director of existential scifi wonkery (Interstellar, Inception) and hard-boiled crime dramas (Momento, The Dark Knight Trilogy) it’ll be interesting to see him test his mettle at historical drama.