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SYFY WIRE Oppenheimer

Why Oppenheimer Star Cillian Murphy Didn’t Read Dark Knight Rises Script Beyond His Own Cameo

Even movie stars like to avoid plot spoilers.

By Josh Weiss
Oppenheimer Trailer

While Cillian Murphy failed to land the role of Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan's acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy, the actor was still able to stick around the grimy streets of Gotham City as Dr. Jonathan Crane — the twisted psychologist famous for adopting the bag-headed, Fear Toxin-brewing identity of Scarecrow.

As fans know, of course, Crane became something of a lucky charm for the comic book-inspired series, enjoying small cameo appearances in the two sequels that followed Batman Begins in 2008 and 2012, respectively. By the time The Dark Knight Rises rolled around, though, Murphy had become just as invested as general audiences and didn't want to know how the saga of Christian Bale's take on the Caped Crusader would come to an end.

RELATED: Cillian Murphy On the 'Huge Responsibility' of Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer

Recently sitting down with Nolan and Entertainment Weekly to discuss his various collaborations with the celebrated director over the years (including this summer's Oppenheimer), Murphy recalled how he turned down the opportunity to read the full script for Rises, only taking a look at the scene where Crane presides over a kangaroo court in Bane's anarchic Gotham.

"I remember when you called, you said, 'You want to read the script?' and I said, 'You know what, I don't actually want to read the script. Just tell me what I'm doing, just tell me what my motivation is, and then I want to see the movie.' I didn't want to spoil it. So I just came in for that one day, did that little bit on that amazing set, and then waited to see the movie. And it was worth it."

Nolan knew he wasn't right for Batman

Oppenheimer (2023)

Interestingly, Nolan flat-out admitted that he knew Murphy wasn't right for the role of Batman after their very first meeting together. Nevertheless, the director insisted on a screen test as a way to convince Warner Bros. to hire the actor as the villain for Begins.

"Everybody was so excited by watching you perform that when I then said to them, 'Okay, Christian Bale is Batman, but what about Cillian to play Scarecrow?' There was no dissent," Nolan remembered. "All the previous Batman villains had been played by huge movie stars: Jack Nicholson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Carrey, that kind of thing. That was a big leap for them and it really was purely on the basis of that test. So that's how you got to play Scarecrow."

Oppenheimer arrives exclusively on the big screen Friday, July 21.

Jonesing for another thriller based on true events? A Friend of the Family is now streaming on Peacock.