With the coveted Oscars ceremony right around the corner, the industry is buzzing with speculations as to who will receive one of the highest honors in the film industry. Christopher Nolan, Cillian Murphy, and Robert Downey Jr. have been nominated for the smash hit Oppenheimer. While this is Murphy’s first nomination, Nolan and Downey Jr. have been nominated previously but never won. The latter two collaborated for the first time in Oppenheimer but not the first time they crossed paths.

Robert Downey Jr. and Christopher Nolan’s First Meeting

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. in Oppenheimer

During a recent screening event of Oppenheimer, Robert Downey Jr. revealed that he met with Christopher Nolan to discuss a role in the first installment of the director’s Batman trilogy. Downey Jr. thought he was perfect for the role of Scarecrow in Batman Begins. However, Nolan seemed to think otherwise and rejected him for the role. He instead cast Cillian Murphy in the villainous role and eventually went on to collaborate further with the Peaky Blinders actor.

Also Read: “I’ve always wanted to work with him”: Christopher Nolan Changed His Opinion on Robert Downey Jr. After Rejecting Him for a Batman Role

This sparked speculations across the industry where people assumed Nolan rejected Downey Jr. because he didn’t believe in his talent and later changed his mind to cast him in Oppenheimer. Downey Jr. and Nolan met for the first time before the former received fame for playing the iconic Iron Man on screen. In a recent interview with The New York Times, Nolan revealed that he already knew he was not going to cast Downey Jr. in Batman Begins. He reveals,

“I 100 percent knew you weren’t the guy. In my head that was already cast. But I always wanted to meet you. I was a huge admirer of yours and therefore selfishly just wanted to take the meeting. But I was also a little afraid of you, you know. I had heard all kinds of stories about how you were crazy. It was only a few years after the last of those stories that had come out about you.”

Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane aka Scarecrow
Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane aka Scarecrow

Oppenheimer director goes on to say how Jon Favreau took a huge risk in casting Downey Jr. in the MCU, which later turned out to be one of their best decisions. In a cosmic way, we have Nolan’s rejection of Downey Jr. to thank for the latter ending up in the red and golden suit for Marvel. Had Nolan cast him as Scarecrow, there is a huge possibility Downey Jr. would not have gotten a role in the MCU.

Also Read: “That was a really tough one”: Robert Downey Jr. Agrees With Ryan Gosling After Oscar Controversy

Robert Downey Jr.’s Transformation to play Lewis Strauss

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer

As the interview progressed, Nolan and Downey Jr. talked about how they had to “remove the handsome” from Downey Jr. to make him look convincing in the role of Lewis Strauss. The character was essentially a hostile character against Robert Oppenheimer in their effort to create nuclear weapons. Strauss disliked Oppenheimer because of a lot of things, both professional and personal. So, in the movie, Strauss had to look like a person on opposite sides of the titular hero. While talking about Downey Jr.’s makeup, Nolan said,

“One of the first few times we showed the film, I was talking to a young guy afterward who had no idea Robert was in it. That’s when I knew that you had completely just lost yourself in this character. But then I thought, well, how’s that going to help sell the movie?”

The actor goes on to say how unrecognizable he looked in the role and people could not identify him in the movie. Given how this was Downey Jr.’s breakout role after playing Tony Stark for over 11 years, he plunged himself into the intricacies of the role and completely transformed himself. In comparison to Stark’s wit and charm, Strauss had to be a petty and vindictive bureaucrat. Nolan expressed how wonderful it was to see Downey Jr. immerse himself in a different world and give such a mesmerizing performance.

Oppenheimer is streaming on Peacock and is available for rent on Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video.

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