Showrunners Sam Shaw and Lila Byock reveals that Cillian Murphy was considered to play J. Robert Oppenheimer in a 2014 TV series Manhattan.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Byock said that they had a few names in mind for some of the crucial parts, including Oppenheimer himself. “When we were casting Oppenheimer, we went through a whole series of different ideas. There were actually some rock stars we considered.”
Shaw adds, “We wanted Oppenheimer to feel both like he possessed a certain undeniable charisma, a presence onstage, but also that he was playing a different instrument. He needed to feel alien—or other—in some ways. He stood out.”
They even contemplated casting the same actor that Nolan did for his own picture. “A thousand percent, Cillian Murphy was on that list,” Shaw says.
Daniel London, well known for his portrayal as the guardian of the psychic crime detectors in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, was eventually cast in the part, lending an unnerving detachment to the so-called Father of the Atomic Bomb.
Shaw says, “Oppenheimer was a guy who was famous for being extremely charming when he needed to be, but also extraterrestrial in his erudition. And I think Daniel really got to that.”
Both seasons of Manhattan, which chronicle the research effort leading up to the historic Trinity nuclear test, are now available for free streaming on Tubi.