The Troubled Life Of Christopher Nolan's Older Brother Matthew

The award-winning director and writer Christopher Nolan has both an older and younger brother who have pursued very different paths. His oldest brother Matthew has had trouble with the law, while Christopher has worked on several films with younger brother Jonathan, including "The Prestige" and "The Dark Knight." Jonathan spoke with Filmmaker magazine in 2001 about how his relationship with Christopher informed "The Prestige," particularly how two people remember things differently.

"Part of it may stem from my relation with Chris, brother to brother, where the older brother is always telling the younger one stories that may be true, or may just be ever more embellished and misleading versions of some truth," Jonathan told the outlet of the film about magicians and sleight of hand. More than that, in speaking about one another, they often gush about the other's work, like when Christopher spoke to The Atlantic. What is fascinating about Jonathan's sentiments about varying perspectives, however, is how that also applies to criminal allegations. 

Which brings us back around to Matthew's criminal history. Christopher has seemingly never spoken about Matthew on the record, whereas he frequently discusses his collaborator brother Jonathan. So, who is this little mentioned eldest brother and what did he do to remain so off-the-record?

Matthew Nolan was charged with murder

According to Newsweek, Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have never spoken on the record about their oldest brother Matthew. While rumors abounded that the oldest Nolan was operating as a hitman named "Oppenheimer," only part of that was true. Per Newsweek, Matthew was arrested and charged with the murder of Robert Cohen in Costa Rica in 2009, with records indicating that he called himself MM McCall-Oppenheimer. Christopher is certainly not the first celeb with a brother arrested on murder charges.

While folks may be quick to link that codename to Christopher's blockbuster film "Oppenheimer," the name is more coincidental than anything. The Daily Mail notes that investigators believe Matthew used the name to trick Cohen into thinking he was a part of the millionaire Oppenheimer family. He was never extradited from the U.S. after the charges, so the Costa Rican authorities dropped it in 2010, per Newsweek. 

Cohen's daughter Alisa told the Daily Mail that her family wants justice for her father's death. "We believe Matthew Nolan should stand trial in Costa Rica for the murder of my father. I believe that, if Nolan was not from a famous family, it would be a different situation," she told the outlet. He did serve some jail time, though, because he tried to escape his holding at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, the outlet added. 

Matthew Nolan had other legal issues

Matthew Nolan's 2009 arrest was not the first time he was under the eye of the law. The Chicago Police Department was already on him. Sgt. John Lucki told The Sunday Times that they learned of Nolan in early 2008. "A Chicago bank discovered it had been victimized by a 'check-kiting' scheme," he told the outlet. Check-kiting is a type of check fraud where a person writes a bad check and moves money around from account to account to make it appear that the funds are available. 

"Unfortunately the Costa Rica accounts didn't have enough money in them," Lucki added, telling the outlet that police believe Nolan finagled at least $600,000. The Chicago Tribune reported that Nolan made at least a million dollars using this method, but charges weren't filed. The outlet also noted that he was utilizing his attachment to the famed filmmaker and his younger brother, Christopher Nolan, to make nice with the banks. Matthew was leaving bankruptcy court in February 2009 when the FBI apprehended him, per The Chicago Tribune.