“It’s not logical”: $34 Million Movie is Solely Responsible for Shaking Cillian Murphy’s Entire Belief System

Not ‘Oppenheimer’, but another physicist role changed the way Cillian Murphy understood the ‘Omnipotent being’.

Cillian Murphy is the favorite to win the Best Actor Oscar for his role in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer on Sunday Night. The actor spent almost six months researching and prepping to play the role of the Father of the Atomic Bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer. It was not the first time the actor did extensive research for a role. One such research for a $34 million movie changed him from an agnostic to an atheist.

Cillian Murphy as physicist Robert Capa in SunshineCillian Murphy as physicist Robert Capa in Sunshine
In the 2007 sci-fi film Sunshine, Cillian Murphy played another physicist role, Robert Capa. The film takes place in the future and tells the story of a group of astronauts on a dangerous mission to save the Earth by reigniting a dying Sun.

Cillian Murphy’s Belief System Was Changed By His Research For Sunshine

Chris Evans, Cillian Murphy, and Troy Garity in SunshineChris Evans, Cillian Murphy, and Troy Garity in Sunshine
Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle was inspired by Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris to make his own futuristic sci-fi film. When he came up with plans for Sunshine with writer Alex Garland, he cast his 28 Days Later star Cillian Murphy as the lead, a physicist, in the film. The film also starred Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, and Hiroyuki Sanada.

As part of their preparation, Murphy, alongside the other cast members, lived together and learned about the topics related to their roles. To play the central character Robert Capa, the Batman Begins actor worked with English physicist Brian Cox. According to the Daily Record, Murphy learned about advanced physics and also took away some of the physicists’ mannerisms while touring the CERN facility.

Brian Cox was highly impressed with Murphy’s portrayal of the physicist in Sunshine as he later talked about it in an interview with Professor Jim Al-Khalili of the University of Surrey. Murphy later revealed to multiple news outlets that his time on Sunshine turned him from an agnostic to an atheist. When asked about what changed his perception during an interview with Total Film, Murphy detailed what he learned from his interactions and readings.

Murphy shared that he was in a very safe space with his agnostic belief system, as he put one foot in each camp of believers and non-believers. However, as he studied more he understood that the burden of proof lies with people who believe and not with people who don’t. He found it irrational to believe in an omnipotent, omnipresent being who always watches over humans. However, he shared that he could understand why faith was important for people. Murphy told Total Film:
“It just seemed to me that we’re here for a very brief period of time and then we die and something else happens and the burden with proof lies with people who believe, not with people that don’t. It just seems to me to be irrational that there’s an omnipotent, omnipresent being who was there at the beginning, and will be there forever, it’s not logical, it doesn’t help me as a person and I can understand why faith can be very important for people, but for me at this point in my life, it’s not what I need.”
The film received critical acclaim from the scientific community for exploring the topics of physics, science, and religion. However, the public response to the film did not reflect its overwhelmingly positive reviews. The film, made on a budget of $40 million, bombed with a collection of only $34 million at the worldwide box office (via Box Office Mojo).

Cillian Murphy Researched His Oppenheimer Role For Six Months

Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer in OppenheimerCillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer in Oppenheimer
Cillian Murphy and his movie Oppenheimer are favorites to win the awards at Sunday’s Oscar Night. Christopher Nolan handed the script of Oppenheimer to Murphy six months before the filming began. It was more than ample time to prepare and Murphy used every bit of that time. Nolan’s weighty script was enough source material, but Murphy took to some extra reading as well.

He read the book American Prometheus and even the Hindu religious scripture, Bhagavad Gita, which had great importance in Robert Oppenheimer’s life. He had “a very general knowledge” about the man and his work before the film. Nolan’s script was structured into subjective and objective storylines, which Murphy found very impressive. He further shared about his other preparations for Oppenheimer with Forbes:
“In terms of the prep of Oppenheimer’s physicality, voice, walk, and things like that, I did a lot of that work on my own, and I would just check in with Chris. I would do the voice for him down the phone or send him little audio files of me doing it, and then I would go over to LA and do camera, makeup, and costume tests.”
Sunshine is now available for rent on AppleTV+. Oppenheimer is now available for streaming on Peacock Premium.

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