Oppenheimer family member slams key Christopher Nolan movie scene - 'A really serious accusation!'

Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer has come under fire from the physicist's grandson

Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 28/07/2023

- 12:44

The grandson of J. Robert Oppenheimer has had his say on Christopher Nolan's box office smash

Cillian Murphy's turn as "father of the atomic bomb" J. Robert Oppenheimer has had cinemagoers everywhere glued to their seats.

Christopher Nolan's three-hour-long biopic of the renowned physicist has raked in impressive numbers at the box office - with it pulling in north of £10million in the UK alone on its opening weekend.

However, despite the critical acclaim and subsequent awards buzz, the film hasn't been free from controversy.

From eagle-eyed fans spotting historical inaccuracies to religious groups demanding action over the movie's sex scenes, Oppenheimer has found itself at the centre of a fair few storms.

Now, the grandson of the physicist has taken issue with Nolan's storytelling during one scene, in particular, involving poison and an apple.

Charles Oppenheimer has addressed Nolan's take on the scene and on his grandfather's life as well as his adaptation of 2006 biography American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin for the big screen.

Einstein and Oppenhimer

Einstein and Oppenheimer in Christopher Nolan's film


In the book - and now on the big screen - Oppenheimer is shown to poison one of his tutor's apples after being castigated in the classroom.

In the film, Oppenheimer manages to prevent the poison taking effect as he slaps it out of Niels Bohr's (played by Kenneth Branagh) hand.

"The part I like the least (in the film) is this poison apple reference," Oppenheimer told TIME before admitting it "was (also) a problem in American Prometheus".

Defending his grandfather, he added: "If you read American Prometheus carefully enough, the authors say, 'We don't really know if it happened.'

"There's no record of him trying to kill somebody. That's a really serious accusation and it's historical revision.

"There's not a single enemy or friend of Robert Oppenheimer who heard that during his life and considered it to be true."

While the film showed Oppenheimer inject the poison into the fruit, his decision to slap it out of Bohr's grasp was enough to prevent any fatality.

Despite the criticism of the moment, the surviving Oppenheimer family does look fondly upon some of Nolan's other interpretations.

Cillian Murphy's Oppenheimer with the bomb

Cillian Murphy's Oppenheimer with the bomb in the movie


"I like some of the dramatisation," he said. "I thought (Albert) Einstein's conversation with Oppenheimer at the end was really effective even though it wasn't historical."

While Charles has held discussions with Nolan and now spoken out about his grandfather's portrayal, he admitted "family policy" around the physicist's portrayals in media is to remain tight-lipped.

"Family policy around media, books, and what I'd call the cult of Oppenheimer, is not to participate in it," he added.

He never got to meet his grandfather as Charles was born in April 1975 after both his grandfather and grandmother, Katherine "Kitty" Oppenheimer (Emily Blunt), had died.

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