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Cillian Murphy Wins Best Actor Oscar: I’m a ‘Very Proud Irish Man Standing Up Here Tonight’

Cillian Murphy has won the Oscar for best actor for his turn as J. Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist and “father of the atomic bomb,” in Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer.”

The admittedly “overwhelmed” actor thanked the Academy, Nolan and executive producer Emma Thomas. “It’s been the wildest, most exhilarating, most creatively satisfying journey you’ve taken me on over the last 20 years, I owe you more than I can say,” he said.

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“Thank you so much [to] every single crew member, every single cast member on ‘Oppenheimer,’ you guys carried me through. All my fellow nominees, I remain in awe of you guys. Truly.”

The actor then paused for a personal moment thanking, “My two boys who are sitting up there, I love you so much, and I’m a very proud Irishman standing here tonight.”

Taking a turn for the serious Murphy then dedicated his moment on stage to those fighting for peace. “We made a film about the man who created the atomic bomb, and for better or for worse, we’re all living in Oppenheimer’s world, so, I would like to dedicate this to the peacemakers everywhere.”

His first Academy Award nomination and win, Murphy took home the coveted prize after having already won a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Awards and British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards for his performance in Nolan’s war thriller. The film centers on Oppenheimer as he grapples with the need to create an atomic weapon to counteract the German threat in World War II and the effects of unearthing the calamitous weapon.

This marks Murphy and Nolan’s sixth collaboration, a working relationship that spans nearly 20 years and includes films like Nolan’s Batman trilogy, “Inception,” “Dunkirk” and now “Oppenheimer.” It wasn’t until the latter title that Murphy got the chance to actually lead a Nolan-directed feature, something the actor had told the Associated Press the summer before “Oppenheimer” opened in theaters that he “was desperate” to do.

Murphy spoke to Variety about the toll of playing such an eponymous character, one increasingly burdened by his split moral conscience in building an atomic bomb, saying, “I had to consider that these were the biggest moral dilemmas, the biggest moral paradoxes that potentially anyone in the history of man has faced,” Murphy said. “And then of course there are the more human dilemmas that he had to face in terms of his own life. That final interrogation at the end of the movie, with Jason Clarke playing [Roger] Robb, is one of my favorite sequences because that’s where we really get to see inside the soul of Oppenheimer. It was a true challenge, but one that I relished.”

He won the Oscar over Bradley Cooper for “Maestro,” Colman Domingo for “Rustin,” Paul Giamatti for “The Holdovers” and Jeffrey Wright for “American Fiction.”  Full list of 2024 Oscar winners here.

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