The covers of Real TIME in Oppenheimer – News Block

This post contains spoilers for Oppenheimer.

TIME makes a cameo appearance in the summer blockbuster oppenheimerChristopher Nolan’s film about brainiac theoretical physicist and atomic bomb architect J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Two TIME magazine covers appear in the film: one featuring Oppenheimer and the other featuring his nemesis Lewis Strauss, head of the US Atomic Energy Commission. Although based on actual issues of the magazine, the film’s cover photos are altered to resemble actors Cillian Murphy (Oppenheimer) and Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr.).

The first TIME magazine to appear in the film is the November 8, 1948 issue, which features a portrait of Oppenheimer by artist Ernest Hamlin Baker. The cover story details the scientist’s rise to fame and includes details about the eccentricities of Oppenheimer, or “Oppie”:

TIME’s second issue in the film appears at a key plot point, during the dispute between Oppenheimer and Strauss, who stripped Oppenheimer of his security clearance. During his confirmation hearings for the Commerce Secretary post in 1959, Strauss is depicted on film talking about the June 15, 1959 edition of TIME, bragging to an aide that he knows TIME editor Henry Luce and that he placed the story as part of his campaign for the Commerce post. The real TIME cover story explains the complicated personality of Strauss that Nolan also explores in the film:

Strauss’s hopes that a TIME story would increase his chances of confirmation did not pan out; the Senate did not confirm him to be Secretary of Commerce.

Read the full stories on Oppenheimer and Strauss in the TIME vault here and here.

More TIME must-reads

write to Olivia B. Waxman at

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