COMEDIAN David Baddiel has hit out at the makers of Oppenheimer for casting Cillian Murphy in the lead role of the smash-hit movie.
Chistopher Nolan’s latest film tells the hard-hitting story of the building of the atomic bomb and the aftermath of its use during the Second World War.
And Irish A-lister Murphy has already been widely tipped for an Oscar for his portrayal of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Jewish scientist who created the world’s first nuclear weapons in the 1940s.
The Cork-born and Catholic-raised star — who built up a large global fanbase following his starring role in Peaky Blinders — has won critical acclaim for his portrayal of the theoretical physicist, with a number of critics describing the 47-year-old’s work as his best performance to date.
However, Baddiel, who is Jewish and the author of Jews Don’t Count, has criticised the decision to cast a non-Jewish actor in the lead role.
“Authenticity casting I think of as an a priori thing that exists,” he told The Times.
And in an earlier opinion piece in the Jewish Chronicle, he wrote: “Another day, another film/TVshow/play in which a famous Jew is being played by a non-Jew.
“I have talked and written about this many times – about how it’s a question not of acting, but of context minority casting being presently dominated by the notion of authenticity, the question is why that doesn’t apply to Jews, and what that means for how people see Jews – so I shan’t rehearse it again.”
He added: “Whatever the rights and wrongs of it, I can promise you that in this business – and I am in this business still – casting directors are now frightened to cast except in line with the minority they are casting.
“But they are not so worried about non-Jews.”
Baddiel also claimed that both the late scientist’s Jewish heritage and the threat posed by Nazi Germany helped convince him to develop the atomic bomb.
Julius Robert Oppenheimer was an American theoretical physicist and director of the Manhattan Project’s Los Alamos Laboratory during World War II. He is often called the “father of the atomic bomb”.
He died in 1967 aged 62.