How Sting (sort of) inspired Christopher Nolan’s new movie, ‘Oppenheimer’

Universal Pictures

Christopher Nolan‘s much-anticipated new movie, Oppenheimer, arrives in theaters Friday, July 21. But it turns out Nolan may have never had the idea to make a movie about “the father of the atomic bomb” if it hadn’t been for Sting.

As EW reports, Nolan first became aware of J. Robert Oppenheimer when he was a kid in the ’80s and heard Sting’s song “Russians,” an anti-nuclear war track from Sting’s 1985 debut solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles.

As Nolan tells EW, “That Sting song … refers to Oppenheimer’s ‘deadly toys.'”

Specifically, the song’s lyrics go, “How can I save my little boy/from Oppenheimer’s deadly toy?”

“I was growing up in the U.K. at a time when people were very concerned about nuclear armaments,” Nolan continues. “When I was 12 or 13, myself and my friends were absolutely convinced that we were going to experience a nuclear war at some point in our lives. Oppenheimer stuck with me as a figure and I learned more about him over the years.”

When Nolan learned later in his life that the scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project couldn’t rule out the possibility that detonating an atomic bomb would cause a chain reaction that would destroy the planet, he knew he had to make a film that included that dramatic decision.

“I’m just very interested in taking the audience into that room, and being there, and kind of living in that moment,” Nolan says. “What would that have been like to push that button, knowing there was any possibility of that?”

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Contests