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Fifteen years after getting his big break in The Dark Knight, David Dastmalchian is reteaming with filmmaker Christopher Nolan. The actor is the latest to join the sprawling cast of Oppenheimer, Nolan’s upcoming historical film centering on J. Robert Oppenheimer, one of the fathers of the A-bomb.
Reuniting with Nolan marks a special moment for Dastmalchian, who is coming off of the biggest year of his career, with a breakout role as the Polka-Dot Man in The Suicide Squad and a turn in Dune as the creepy Piter De Vries.
But back in 2007, Dastmalchian was juggling life in Chicago as a telemarketer, movie theater usher and theater actor when he saw a casting call for The Dark Knight. He auditioned for Nolan to play one of the men in bank heist scene, but did not land the part. Months later, the actor received a surprise call letting him know he’d been cast in a different role, the part of Joker henchman Thomas Schiff. The role gave him the chance to work opposite Heath Ledger, Christian Bale and Aaron Eckhart in a pair of memorable scenes filmed in Chicago and London.
Dastmalchian would become a favorite of Denis Villeneuve and work in the Ant-Man movies, and he traced it all back to Nolan.
“It all started with him choosing to let me be a part of that film,” Dastmalchian told THR for a 2018 profile. “How do you thank the person that changed your life so profoundly?”
After The Dark Knight, more than a decade would pass before he’d see Nolan again, when he happened to run into the filmmaker during an afternoon at a park. He indeed got to thank the director for changing his life.
His Oppenheimer role is being kept secret. The film began production this week, with Cillian Murphy at the top of a call sheet that includes Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, Benny Safdie, Josh Hartnett, Dane DeHaan, Jack Quaid, Matthew Modine, Alden Ehrenreich and David Krumholtz. Universal has set a release date of July 21, 2023, for the film.
Datsmalchian recently joined the cast of 20th Century’s Stephen King adaptation Boogeyman and has wrapped production on Boston Strangler for the studio. In addition to acting, Dastmalchian is the writer behind Dark Horse’s Count Crowley comics. He is represented by Atlas Artists and Duncan Hedges at Hansen Jacobson.