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Christopher Nolan: "Bittersweet" to have "Oppenheimer" cast leave London premiere amid SAG-AFTRA strike

Christopher Nolan on epic film "Oppenheimer"
Director-writer Christopher Nolan on latest masterpiece "Oppenheimer," Hollywood strike 08:37

During the London premiere of the highly anticipated film "Oppenheimer," some stars left early to join the picket lines in support of the SAG-AFTRA strike.

"It was very bittersweet to have the actors there supporting the film, and then understanding that they needed to then leave and go on strike," the film's writer and director, Christopher Nolan, told "CBS Mornings" in an interview that aired on Thursday.

Nolan emphasized the significance of the actors' strike and a parallel one held by the Writers Guild of America since May.

"It's an important moment," he said. "It's a kind of moment that comes along every few decades."

As a writer, Nolan has been on strike for over two months and hopes the movement will compel companies to promptly reassess their deal structures. The strikes largely focus on issues related to financial compensation amid disputes with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), a trade association that represents companies including Paramount Studios, which has the same parent company as CBS News. 

Nolan is known for films including "The Dark Knight" trilogy, "Dunkirk" and "Interstellar." His latest creation, "Oppenheimer," has been described as his most impressive yet. It is scheduled to be released in theaters on Friday.

The film delves into the life of famed physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who oversaw the development of the first atomic bomb during World War II. One notable aspect of the movie is its commitment to authenticity. Nolan said he avoided relying on computer-generated imagery to create a textured and real atmosphere. The film uses old-school methods and practical effects to heighten the immersive experience for viewers, especially during pivotal moments like the depiction of the Trinity nuclear test, which was the first detonation of a nuclear weapon and took place in 1945. 

"We knew the Trinity test had to be the showstopper. It's the key thing in the film. It had to have incredible beauty and incredible threat. It's difficult to make computer graphics threatening," he said.

Nolan said the film highlights a cautionary tale, reflecting on Oppenheimer's public acclaim as the father of the bomb, while also recognizing the turmoil he faced due to the changed world and the ongoing threat of nuclear weapons.

In an emotional scene, Oppenheimer envisions the potential horrors of future nuclear explosions, portrayed through the face of Nolan's own daughter.

"For me, yes, it was about looking to people you love, looking to the things that you love, the world around you that you love and value and imagining the destructive force of these weapons," said Nolan.

Some CBS News staff are SAG-AFTRA or Writers Guild members. But their contracts are not affected by the strikes.

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