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Oppenheimer: What It Was Really Like Living In The Film's 'Summer Camp'

Just because you're making a movie about weaponry that could destroy the world and the existential questions of whether man was meant to harness such power doesn't mean you can't have a little fun along the way. 

As a Christopher Nolan film, "Oppenheimer" foregoes much use of CGI. It also heavily relies on practical sets, as many scenes were filmed in the New Mexico desert for the Los Alamos sequences. And with such a massive cast filled with recognizable names like Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, many people had to be in the area to shoot at the same time. It's been described as a sort of "summer camp" for the cast and crew, with there not being much else to do in the vicinity. Blunt even told Entertainment Tonight how they drank so many margaritas during filming. 

It made for a good bonding experience, as Blunt elaborated, "It's unusual for all the actors to be on location together, and we were shooting this really remote location in the middle of the New Mexican desert. There was one hotel, and we were all together, and that doesn't happen. Normally, everyone's in their own place, or you're shooting at home." There was also only one restaurant to eat it, which made for a popular congregation spot with one noteworthy exception in the cast.

Cillian Murphy wouldn't join the rest of the cast for dinner

Everyone cooped up in the same hotel for an extended period of time is bound to result in some friendships being made. While the cast likely wasn't making lanyards and having three-legged races like one might find at summer camp, there was one communal meeting ground where everyone got together. In the same interview, Matt Damon spoke about how in addition to there only being one hotel, there was also only one restaurant where everyone had their meals together. 

Damon explained, "It wasn't like the kind of restaurant that was open 24 hours. It was like open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and so you were always — it was like the dining hall. You'd go in, and you'd see everybody. And so everyone would just end up sitting together." While it's nice they formed a sense of camaraderie while shooting such heavy material, there was one notable absence during these meals. Damon went on to say how Cillian Murphy, who plays J. Robert Oppenheimer in the movie, wouldn't join them. Blunt mentions how he would eat "one almond" for most nights, and that shows on the screen as Murphy's Oppenheimer looks emaciated throughout much of the film. 

There's no doubt dealing with material on the magnitude of "Oppenheimer" could've been easy for everyone, so having those moments to relax with friends was likely a welcome reprieve. 

Cillian Murphy follows in a long line of actors who change their bodies for roles

Many actors have gone to extreme methods to lose weight for a role, like Christian Bale in "The Machinist" and Jake Gyllenhaal in "Nightcrawler." Cillian Murphy followed in that trajectory, foregoing group meals so that he could look more like the real J. Robert Oppenheimer. He discussed his intentions with his physicality in May when speaking with The New York Times, mentioning, "I love acting with my body, and Oppenheimer had a very distinct physicality and silhouette, which I wanted to get right."

Many on social media have used the news story to joke about how Murphy became a real-life "almond mom," which is a term used to describe someone who's perpetually stuck in diet culture. Meanwhile, others debated why such extreme actions are needed in this day and age, like @clairecdowns, who wrote, "In a computer generated cinema landscape, there's no reason to eat 'one almond a day' for a role. Computers can make John Goodman look 20 years younger, they can make Cillian Murphy look 20 pounds lighter too."

While speaking with The Guardian, Murphy made sure to note that he doesn't recommend anyone do what he did for this part, "You become competitive with yourself a little bit which is not healthy. I don't advise it." He also didn't want the story to become how much weight exactly he lost for the role. The performance should speak for itself, with "Oppenheimer" coming out in theaters on July 21.