Oppenheimer: Christopher Nolan on why he cast his daughter as girl who gets blown up in nuclear explosion

Flora is credited as ‘Burn Victim’ in the new movie about the making of the atomic bomb

Ellie Harrison
Monday 17 July 2023 08:09 BST
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Oppenheimer trailer

Christopher Nolan has explained his decision to cast his eldest daughter, Flora, in such a shocking role in his atomic bomb movie Oppenheimer.

The biographical film, set during the Second World War, stars Cillian Murphy as J Robert Oppenheimer, the man known as the “father of the atomic bomb”, and is due to be released on 21 July.

Nolan previously said people are walking out of the three-hour movie “devastated” and unable to speak.

Speaking in a new interview with The Telegraph, Nolan revealed that when his daughter, Flora, 22, visited the set with his wife, the producer Emma Thomas, it struck him that he could cast her as a nameless young woman whose flesh is flayed from her face in a nuclear explosion, in a sequence that happens within Oppenheimer’s mind.

Flora is credited on IMDb as “Burn Victim” for her work on the film.

“We needed someone to do that small part of a somewhat experimental and spontaneous sequence,” Nolan said. “So it was wonderful to just have her sort of roll with it.”

Acknowledging the unusual casting choice, he said it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, telling the publication: “Truthfully, I try not to analyse my own intentions.”

He added: “But the point is that if you create the ultimate destructive power it will also destroy those who are near and dear to you. I suppose this was my way of expressing that in what, to me, were the strongest possible terms.”

Nolan has four children with Thomas: Flora, Magnus, Oliver and Rory. Flora is also previously credited as “Girl on Truck” in Nolan’s space movie Interstellar. She is currently studying at the New York University Tisch School of Arts.

Oppenheimer, whichalso stars Emily Blunt, Matt Damon and Robert Downey Jr, made headlines last week when the cast walked out in the middle of the premiere to “go and write their picket signs” for the actors’ strike.

Murphy in ‘Oppenheimer’
Murphy in ‘Oppenheimer’ (AP)

The premiere took place on the same day that actors union SAG-AFTRA approved its membership of 160,000 to begin striking, joining screenwriters who’ve been picketing since May – a historic move that has effectively shut down Hollywood, which hasn’t happened in over 60 years.

According to SAG’s strike guidelines, union members are barred from attending premieres, film festivals and award shows, or even promoting their projects on social media or in interviews.

Read live updates on the strike here.

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