Oppenheimer: David Baddiel questions casting of Cillian Murphy as Jewish physicist | Ents & Arts News

Aug 2, 2023 | Entertainment, News


Authentic casting is a “priori thing that exists”, David Baddiel has said over the decision to cast a non-Jewish actor as J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy plays the theoretic physicist in the box-office-busting film, which tells the story of the building, and the aftermath, of the atomic bomb during the Second World War.

J. Robert Oppenheimer was of Jewish descent, a fact alluded to during the movie, and was the son of Jewish immigrants.

Murphy, an Irish actor, was raised Catholic but identifies as an atheist, he told Total Film in 2007.

Writing in The Times, comedian Baddiel said: “Authenticity casting I think of as an a priori thing that exists.

“Whatever the rights and wrongs of it, I can promise you that in this business – and I am in this business still – casting directors are now frightened to cast except in line with the minority they are casting.

“But they are not so worried about Jews.”

Tom Conti, another non-Jewish actor, played Albert Einstein in Oppenheimer, who was born to Jewish parents in Germany.

Read more on Oppenheimer:
Barbenheimer backlash as Warner Bros regrets ‘insensitive’ social media posts
Christopher Nolan didn’t intend for Oppenheimer movie to be so timely

It is not the first time Baddiel has spoken out over the film’s depiction of his faith, writing in Jewish Chronicle shortly after its release:

“Another day, another film/TV show/play in which a famous Jew is played by a non-Jew.

“I have talked and written about this many times – about how it’s a question not of acting but of context: minority casting being presently dominated by the notion of authenticity, the question is why that doesn’t apply to Jews, and what that means for how people see Jews – so I shan’t rehearse it again.”

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‘Nuclear weapon threat never goes away’

He had argued that the real Oppenheimer’s Jewish heritage was one of the key factors as to why he was enlisted to help build the weapon.

Oppenheimer, which was directed by Christopher Nolan, has courted controversy since its release, sparking particular fury in India, over a scene where a sacred Hindu scripture is read while Murphy and Florence Pugh’s characters have sex.

The film was released the same weekend as Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, prompting the viral social media trend Barbenheimer, which encouraged movie-goers to see both movies over the same weekend.

A number of cinema chains reported record ticket sales, thanks to the surge of bookings for both films.



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