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Who does Benny Safdie play in Oppenheimer?

Benny Safdie is perhaps better known as a director than an actor, but he pops up as part of the packed Oppenheimer cast to play an important historical role.

Benny Safdie as Teller in Oppenheimer

Who does Benny Safdie play in Oppenheimer? You might well know Benny Safdie as being one of the directors behind the anxiety-inducing Adam Sandler thriller Uncut Gems. Along with his brother Josh, Safdie has built a great career behind the camera.

But Benny Safdie is also an actor, and Oppenheimer gives him one of his most high-profile roles on screen. The Oppenheimer cast is one of the biggest ensembles of any of the new movies hitting cinemas this summer, orbiting around Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer.

So who does Benny Safdie play in Oppenheimer? Let’s take a journey into the Los Alamos laboratory to discuss Safdie’s role and discuss what happened to the character after the Oppenheimer ending. There are spoilers ahead if you want to go into the movie without knowing what really happened.

Who does Benny Safdie play in Oppenheimer?

Benny Safdie plays theoretical physicist and hydrogen bomb advocate Edward Teller in Oppenheimer. He finds himself at odds with Oppenheimer due to their differing views about future nuclear weapons.

Even in the earliest stages of the movie’s Manhattan Project scenes, Safdie’s Teller is keen to float the possibility of a weapon based on nuclear fusion rather than fission. This would eventually become the blueprint for the hydrogen bomb.

The Hungarian-born Teller clashed with Oppenheimer throughout his time at Los Alamos due to their differing priorities. Safdie plays him as an eccentric and unusual man, who was difficult for Oppenheimer to manage.

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In the aftermath of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, Teller moved into H-bomb research. He also testified against Oppenheimer during his infamous security hearings, stating that he believed Oppenheimer to be loyal to the United States but that he was uncomfortable with not understanding Oppenheimer’s motives.

Teller was one of few prominent scientific figures to side against Oppenheimer, which led to Teller’s diminished reputation in the science community. He continued to advocate for nuclear explosives, including in non-military uses, and became one of the first scientists to speak out about the risks of climate change.

Teller’s reputation has been less than positive throughout history, thanks largely to his continued investment in the nuclear arms rac. He received one of the first Ig Nobel Prizes – a satirical antithesis to the Nobel Prize – for Peace as a result. There has also been speculation that he was one of the inspirations for Stanley Kubrick character Dr Strangelove in the movie of the same name.

Peter Sellers in Dr Strangelove

For more on the real people on screen in Oppenheimer, check out our guides to Einstein, Jean Tatlock, and why Lewis Strauss hated Oppenheimer. You can also find out how to watch Oppenheimer in 70mm IMAX, as Nolan intended.

We’ve got plenty to say about this weekend’s double bill of two of the potential best movies of 2023, so read our Oppenheimer review and Barbie review. You can also find out whether to watch Oppenheimer or Barbie first and learn why Christopher Nolan isn’t salty about the Barbenheimer box office battle.