Oscars 2024: Emily Blunt Gives Kitty Oppenheimer Her Due

Blunt’s nomination for Best Supporting Actress in one of 13 nominations for Oppenheimer this year.
Oscars 2024: Emily Blunt Gives Kitty Oppenheimer Her Due
Oscars 2024: Emily Blunt Gives Kitty Oppenheimer Her Due

When talking about her character, Kitty Oppenheimer, Emily Blunt said,  “She was a brilliant brain that went to waste at the ironing board.” Despite being a supporting character, Blunt manages to be memorable and impactful as Kitty, J. Robert Oppenheimer's wife, in Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer. Blunt's performance is a measured act of intelligence, pathos and sass. Kitty emerges as a woman whose brilliance often goes unnoticed, marked by frustration and stifled potential as she navigates a world that keeps dismissing her. 

One of Blunt’s standout scenes is between Kitty and Oppenheimer after he finds out his lover, Jean Tatlock, has died by suicide. He’s overwhelmed by grief, but Kitty, fueled by fury over the betrayal, refuses to give him the space to mourn Jean. She grabs him by the collar, yanking him close so that their heads collide, and says, "You don't get to commit the sin and then have us all feel sorry for you that it had consequences." Blunt's delivery is piercing, and when she shakes Cillian Murphy and commands, "Pull yourself together" it’s a moment that perfectly shows how formidable a woman Kitty was. We get a sense of how intricately layered their relationship was as well as the strength that she gave Oppenheimer. Cillian Murphy, who plays Oppenheimer, has acknowledged in multiple interviews that he owes the success of this powerful scene to Blunt's unparalleled brilliance.

Blunt also humanises Kitty, unhesitatingly showing the woman’s troubled and troubling aspects, like her alcoholism and the way she struggled with depression soon after becoming a mother. She’s the wife as well as the ‘other woman’, the cantankerous one who makes the men in the room thin their lips in disapproval, and Blunt doesn’t soften these irregular edges in Kitty. 

The delight of watching Kitty in Oppenheimer is that even though she’s often pushed to the side or grappling with disadvantages, when she does rise to an occasion, she really makes it count. Kitty’s most triumphant moment comes during the scene in which Kitty is questioned during Oppenheimer’s security hearing, facing off against a prosecutor who has previously overpowered and outwitted almost everyone who’s come before. Kitty, in contrast, proves to be a tougher, uncrackable nut. She maintains a calm and intimidating demeanour, talking over the prosecutor and leaving him speechless. 

As Oppenheimer grapples with allegations of communist connections, and scrutiny falls on everyone, Kitty showcases her audacity. In a fiery display of grit, she confronts the prosecutor, cutting him down to size with lines like, "I don't like your phrase."  There’s an arrogance in the way she purses her lips, a show of disdain. Yet, there’s an inherent charm to Blunt that she brings to Kitty. It is rare to see a woman being portrayed with such charisma, especially when she is not all that agreeable. 

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