‘Oppenheimer’ Director Nolan Says He Won’t Make Any New Movies While Hollywood Strike Is On

One of the most anticipated and hyped movies of the summer is “Oppenheimer,” about the development of the atomic bomb, which was directed by Christopher Nolan. (You may have heard that this film and another film are getting released in theaters the same day—July 21.)

Nolan, a five-time Oscar nominee, whose work includes “Dunkirk,” “The Dark Knight,” and “Memento,” is, unsurprisingly, doing lots of advance press interviews to promote the movie.

Anyone who’s followed Nolan’s career knows he is someone who kind of does things his own way, including eschewing using a smartphone or email, as he mentioned in the interview with the Hollywood Reporter.

That was just one of the intriguing points in the new interview. Something else that got my attention—when word got out that Nolan had filmed an atomic bomb test for “Oppenheimer,” some people thought he actually set off a nuke:

It says something about the director’s reputation for a near-religious commitment to big-screen spectacle that when news first broke online about Nolan shooting the Trinity test scene without using CGI, a fair number of movie fans assumed that meant he had literally detonated an atomic bomb on set. “It’s flattering that people would think I would be capable of something as extreme as that on the one hand, but it’s also a little bit scary,” Nolan says during an interview in mid-June, in the Los Angeles offices of his and Thomas’ production company, Syncopy Inc.

As my colleague Brad Slager wrote recently, the actors’ union SAG-AFTRA just voted to strike this week, only adding to Hollywood’s woes from the ongoing strike by the writers’ union, WGA:

It has been a tumultuous year already in Hollywood, and things are only getting more turbulent. At midnight it was officially announced that SAG-AFTRA – the collective unions of movie actors and broadcast performers – would cease working and are going on strike. This is taking place at the same time that the months-long WGA writer’s strike has also been in effect, the first time these two unions walked off the job at the same time since the 1960s.

As Slager added, the strike had an “immediate” effect on “Oppenheimer”—even before its release:

There was a rather immediate reaction when the strike was finalized. In Britain, the cast of the upcoming Christopher Nolan film “Oppenheimer” (coming to US theaters next week) walked out of the red carpet premiere in London in a move of support for the strike.

(see Hollywood Faces a Shutdown as the Actors’ Union Goes on Strike – Will Audiences Even Notice?)

Nolan commented on the WGA strike before the movie’s premiere:

It’s very important to bear in mind that there are people who have been out of work for months now, as part of the writers strike, and with the actors potentially joining – a lot of people are going to suffer.

So, it’s probably not a huge surprise to hear his reaction to the writers joining the strike. He says in another interview, that essential means he’s on strike, too; he won’t work on any new films until the writers’ and actors’ strikes end:

No, absolutely. It’s very important that everybody understands it is a very key moment in the relationship between working people and Hollywood. This is not about me, this is not about the stars of my film.

This is about jobbing actors, this is about staff writers on television programmes trying to raise a family, trying to keep food on the table.

He adds:

I think you’d never want a strike, you never want industrial action. But there are times where it’s necessary. This is one of those times.

The timing of the strike is, indeed, fortunate—at least for “Oppenheimer”s director, who says that because the strike started after his movie premiered, it won’t affect its release in just a few days.

In the unlikely event that you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the trailer for “Oppenheimer”:

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