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Oppenheimer star Cillian Murphy says ‘awkward’ sex scenes with Florence Pugh were ‘vital’

Scene has faced backlash in India

Tom Murray
Monday 31 July 2023 08:02 BST
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Film fanatic reveals the 'best time to pee' during Oppenheimer

Cillian Murphy has defended the inclusion of sex scenes in Christopher Nolan’s new blockbuster, Oppenheimer.

Murphy, 47, stars as nuclear scientist J Robert Oppenheimer in the film with a significant subplot involving his relationship with psychiatrist and physician Jean Tatlock, played by Florence Pugh, 27.

Tatlock and Oppenheimer were in a relationship and later had an affair while the physicist was married to Katherine “Kitty” Puening (portrayed by Emily Blunt in the movie).

*Warning – Minor spoilers ahead for Oppenheimer*

One of the sex scenes has generated some chatter online and was condemned in India as Oppenheimer is depicted reading out part of the Bhagavad Gita, one of Hinduism’s holiest scriptures, during intercourse.

Speaking to British GQ in a recent interview, Murphy said the sex scenes in the film were “vital”.

“I think the relationship that he has with Jean Tatlock is one of the most crucial emotional parts of the film,” the Irish actor said.

“I think if they’re key to the story then they’re worthwhile. Listen, no one likes doing them, they’re the most awkward possible part of our job. But sometimes you have to get on with it.”

Florence Pugh as Jean Tatlock, left, and Cillian Murphy as J Robert Oppenheimer (© Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.)

In a previous interview with Insider, director Nolan agreed: “When you look at Oppenheimer’s life and you look at his story, that aspect of his life, the aspect of his sexuality, his way with women, the charm that he exuded, it’s an essential part of his story.

“It felt very important to understand their relationship and to really see inside it and understand what made it tick without being coy or allusive about it – but to try to be intimate, to try and be in there with him and fully understand the relationship that was so important to him.”

This week, it was revealed that Pugh’s nudity had been censored in certain territories, including the Middle East, India and Indonesia.

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Viewers realised the scene had been edited after a photo of the actor wearing a CGI dress in the movie was shared on X (formerly known as Twitter).

A source close to the film told The Independent that a “soft base” version of the film with no nudity was used in the Middle East while censor edits were made to secure releases in countries including India.

Oppenheimer has been released as a U/A certified film by India’s Central Board of Film Certification, which means the movie contains moderate adult themes and can be watched by a child below 12 years of age under parental guidance.

In other nations, Christopher Nolan’s film has been released under the R-rated category, meaning viewers under 17 require an accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Find The Independent’s review of Oppenheimer here.

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