Hollywood Voices Sound Alarm on Nuclear Threat as Oppenheimer Sweeps the Academy Awards

At Sunday’s Academy Awards, Best Actor Recipient Cillian Murphy dedicated his award “to the peacemakers everywhere,” reminding the audience that “we’re living in Oppenheimer’s world.” This follows Christopher Nolan’s earlier comments thanking “the individuals and organizations who have fought long and hard to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world.”

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NTI's #MakeNukesHistory campaign has blanketed Los Angeles. Photo by Jade Blairs.

NTI's #MakeNukesHistory campaign has blanketed Los Angeles. Photo by Jade Blairs.

Murphy’s Oscars message came amid the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s Los Angeles-based campaign to leverage attention on the film to underscore that while Oppenheimer is history, nuclear weapons are not.

Kristen Stewart, Barbra Streisand, and Bradley Whitford signed on to the #MakeNukesHistory campaign, joining other artists and advocates in a call for global leaders to work to make nuclear weapons history in an open letter in the Los Angeles Times. The letter was also signed by Hollywood luminaries like Michael Douglas and Jane Fonda as well as Oppenheimer cast members Matthew Modine and Tony Goldwyn. J. Robert Oppenheimer’s grandson and activist Charles Oppenheimer also joined the chorus of voices. To read the full list of signatories, visit www.makenukeshistory.org/open-letter.

“The film brought nuclear weapons to the big screen and helped raise awareness about today’s nuclear threats. We’re in a new arms race, and it’s now up to all of us to continue the conversation and call on our leaders to end the catastrophic threat posed by today’s nuclear weapons,” said NTI Co-Chair and CEO and former Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz. “Oppenheimer can’t be the finish line for storytelling that spotlights nuclear dangers. Hollywood can play a transformative role in educating audiences about the risks and helping us imagine a safer future without nuclear weapons. Oppenheimer is history. Nuclear weapons should be, too.”

Oppenheimer’s big wins come at a dangerous time. The United States is in a three-way arms race with Russia and China. Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin made nuclear threats in association with the war in Ukraine. New technologies and the possibility of cyber attacks elevate nuclear risks. These risks and others have brought us closer to the brink of nuclear catastrophe than at any time since the Cold War.

NTI’s #MakeNukesHistory campaign includes billboards spanning the high-traffic routes to the Oscars, a large-scale painted mural, an original art installation at the iconic Original Farmer’s Market at the Grove in Los Angeles, and more than 1,000 posters across the city calling attention to the symmetry between Oppenheimer’s 13 Oscar nominations and the world’s approximately 13,000 nuclear weapons. Prominent influencers and TikTok creators brought the campaign’s message to more than a million people, reminding them that we have the power to end what Oppenheimer started when he developed the first nuclear weapon.