Who was the spy in Oppenheimer? Christopher Nolan has finally unveiled one of the most hotly-anticipated movies of 2023, telling the story of the scientist behind the atomic bomb and his controversial status in history.
Oppenheimer benefits from a terrific central performance from Cillian Murphy, who we praised in our Oppenheimer review. The physicist who pioneered the atomic bomb became shrouded in controversy after the war for his left-wing politics and opposition to further nuclear weapons, with accusations swirling that he could even have been the Soviet spy uncovered within the Los Alamos laboratory.
Let’s delve into the Oppenheimer true story and find out: who was the spy in Oppenheimer? There are spoilers ahead for the Oppenheimer ending, of course, so stop reading if you don’t want to know how the new Christopher Nolan movie pans out.
Who was the spy in Oppenheimer?
Klaus Fuchs, played by Christopher Denham in Oppenheimer, was the spy responsible for passing secrets about the atomic bomb from the Los Alamos laboratory to the Soviet Union.
Denham’s take on Fuchs (pictured on the left below) is a relatively minor character throughout Oppenheimer, but it is revealed late on in the movie that he revealed classified information from within the Manhattan project to the Soviet Union.
The real Fuchs was born in Germany and became a member of the German Communist Party in the 1930s. He fled his native country after the Reichstag fire was attributed to “Communist agitators” by the recently elected Adolf Hitler. In Britain, he studied for a PhD and began working on the UK’s nuclear weapons project when the war started.
In 1943, he joined the Manhattan project in the USA and ended up working at the Los Alamos laboratory with Oppenheimer. On both the British and American projects, he was responsible for passing information to the Soviets.
The presence of a Communist mole for the Soviets within Los Alamos became a part of Oppenheimer’s security hearings in the wake of the war, with his own left-wing politics leading suspicion to fall on him.
Fuchs confessed to his crimes in 1950 and served nine years in prison. Later in his life, he moved to East Germany and worked as deputy director of the Institute for Nuclear Research in Rossendorf until his retirement in 1979.
For more on the real people behind the Oppenheimer cast, find out about Florence Pugh as Jean Tatlock, Einstein in Oppenheimer, and learn the answer to ‘why did Lewis Strauss hate Oppenheimer?‘. Or delve further into the director with our guide to the best Christopher Nolan movies or our look at why Christopher Nolan isn’t salty about the Barbenheimer box office battle.
And speaking of Barbie, check out our Barbie review to find out what we thought about the second pillar of this battle of new movies. We’ve also got more on the best movies coming to screens in 2023, including the Dune 2 release date and The Equalizer 3 release date.