Irish actor Cillian Murphy brings Dr J Robert Oppenheimer back to life in Christopher Nolan’s landmark movie, and many have lauded him for capturing the scientist’s physicality accurately. However, to do just that, Murphy had to undertake an extreme diet that most people would consider unhealthy. Here’s what you need to know.
The fact that many dedicated actors around the world go through incredible transformations to fit into character roles is very well known. And often, this means going through an extreme diet even if it isn’t healthy as such. Actors like Aamir Khan, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger and Hilary Swank have famously taken up extreme diets to fit into some of their most monumental roles. Cillian Murphy, the actor playing Oppenheimer in Christopher Nolan’s landmark biopic, is the latest to join these ranks.
For those who don’t know, Dr J Robert Oppenheimer is famed for being the Father of the Atomic Bomb. Contemporary evidence from his Los Alamos-based Project Manhattan shows that at the peak of his research and nuclear bomb tests, Dr Oppenheimer was emaciated due to a diet that primarily consisted of “coffee, cigarettes and intense martinis”. So, to recreate that physicality of gauntness, actor Cillian Murphy went through an extreme diet.
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In a recent interview, fellow actor Emily Blunt, who plays Dr Oppenheimer’s wife in the Nolan movie, revealed what Cillian Murphy’s diet looked like. “He had such a monumental undertaking. And he could only eat, like, an almond every day,” Emily Blunt revealed. “He was so emaciated.” This revelation shocked many as though the diet resulted in Cillian Murphy recreating the look of Dr Oppenheimer to the T, the diet itself is anything but healthy.
Cillian Murphy gained fame for his role as Selby in Peaky Blinders. The Irish actor already has a lean frame and is well-known to maintain a toned body for this role in Peaky Blinders. Originally a vegetarian, Cillian Murphy decided to go back to non-vegetarianism to bulk up to play Selby. "I was vegetarian for about 15 years. But it was never a moral decision," Cillian Murphy had said in a 2013 interview. "It was more that I was worried about getting mad cow disease.”
For his Peaky Blinders role, Cillian Murphy has maintained a strict workout routine and a diet consisting of fish, eggs and even tenderloin meat. Sources have revealed that in general, Cillian Murphy eats cottage cheese, fruits and eggs for breakfast; fish, brown rice and vitamin supplements for lunch; and tenderloin, sweet potatoes and green salad for dinner. Clearly then, the “an almond every day” diet was something Cillian Murphy undertook to only fit into the role of Dr Oppenheimer.
It is very important to note that though actors like Cillian Murphy undertake such extreme diets with utter care and caution, usually under the guidance of experts. The actor has himself acknowledged in a subsequent interview that his extreme diet to fit into the role of Dr Oppenheimer should not be seen as a recommendation to people with weight loss in mind. He has insisted that his extreme diet was only done to accurately depict Dr Oppenheimer’s physical appearance rather than to promote unhealthy or extreme weight loss habits.