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Cillian Murphy and Margot Robbie reflect on 2023’s biggest meme together – Barbenheimer

Cillian Murphy and Margot Robbie sat down to discuss the iconic ‘Barbenheimer’ trend that sparked upon Greta Gerwig’s iconic Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated Oppenheimer sharing the same release date.  


The pair also heart-warmingly shared their experiences of how they prepared for the roles on Variety’s Actors on Actors series, as well as how audiences reacted to watching both the blockbusters back to back.


The ‘Barbenheimer’ trend was fuelled after many online found some novelty in the juxtaposition of each film’s themes and storylines. Even Tom Cruise got involved in the craze and watched both movies back to back. Vue cinemas reported that one fifth of those who bought a ticket to Oppenheimer also bought a ticket for Barbie.


Barbie, a garishly pink, glittery and bubbly flick which at points tugged on the heart strings and inflicted nostalgic notions of those who grew up with the Mattel toys. Meanwhile, the Oppenheimer biopic explores the making of an atomic weapon of mass destruction and the dark aftermath which unfolded following its fruition.


The Actors on Actors episode starring Robbie and Murphy kicks off with both actors kindly congratulating each other on their success with their roles in each movie.


Robbie, who had a hand in producing the Barbie movie discussed the reluctancy the team had to move the release date from the 21st of July. Describing the clash as “A really great pairing.” At Barbie’s world premier earlier this year in Los Angeles, actress Issa Rae praised the situation: "I love that there's solidarity though where people tried to pit us against one another but now it's turned into like a double-feature situation.”


Both further discussed their preparations for the big screen, giving fans a taste of the tough work which accompanies tackling such huge lead roles.


Murphy claimed that preparing like a psychopath was “the only way,” as director Nolan “expects excellence from everyone. All the best ones [directors] do.”


(Variety Magazine.)

Murphy embarked on his process by studying photos of J. Robert Oppenheimer himself: “He always stood with his hand on his hip. He was such a slight man, but he always stood with this very kind of jaunty angle. So, I nicked that pretty early as a physical thing.”


Preparing for the role of Barbie came with some difficulty however, Robbie explained “All my usual tools didn’t apply for this character… I don’t want her to seem dumb and ditzy, but she’s also not meant to know anything. She’s meant to be completely naive and ignorant.”


Murphy coined ‘Barbenheimer’ as something which “may never happen again.” Pinning the phenomenon on the fact “both movies were good. In fact, that summer, there was a huge diversity of stuff in the cinema, and I think it just connected in a way that you or I or the studios or anybody could never have predicted.”


Barbie and Oppenheimer now remain amongst 2023’s highest grossing films. Universal Pictures recently announced they had sold out of all 4K Ultra HD discs of Oppenheimer – returning hope that there is still a market for physical forms of media in 2023.


Still, months after their release, the argument still remains, what was the correct order to watch the ‘Barbenheimer’ saga? Robbie stands by this order: “Barbie, Oppenheimer and then Barbie again.”


You can watch the full Actors on Actors episode here.

/Sophie Shanks

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