OSCAR: Chris Nolan Q&A About 'Inception'

When Inception was released back on July 16th, the strikingly original film shook up a summer marketplace filled with derivative sequels and unfortunate remakes that had critics decrying the creative barrenness of studio films. Which is why writer-director Nolan garnered respect from Hollywood for using his clout from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight to film his own long, gestating spec script from an idea that had rattled around in his head for a decade. Inception is a movie with many layers and a dense plot, allowing Nolan to ride a familiar genre but then arrive at a new place. Sure, the box office was well-trod turf for him: $825 million worldwide. But, first, he had to imagine himself in the dream world of Inception before he took audiences there.

DEADLINE: How was writing Inception different for you?
NOLAN: What I try to do is write from the inside out. I really try to jump into the world of the film and the characters, try to imagine myself in that world rather than imagining it as a film I’m watching onscreen. Sometimes, that means I’m discovering things the way the audience will, with character and story. Other times, you’re plotting it out with diagrams and taking a very objective view. Writing, for me, is a combination of both. You take an objective approach at times to get you through things, and you take a subjective approach at other times, and that allows you to find an emotional experience for the audience. This was one of those projects that burned inside me for a long time, but I wouldn’t say in a completely unique way. I made a film earlier called The Prestige. For four or five years, that burned inside me. It was something I really wanted to crack with my brother Jonah, and eventually we did it. I certainly have other ideas I’ve not been able to crack that I see great potential in, sitting in the back of a drawer. You never quite know what you’re going to come back to and figure out how to make it work. You never quite know where that desire to finish something, or return to something in a fresh way, is going to come from. Every time I finished a film and went back and looked at it, I had changed as a person. The script was different to me. And, eventually, who I was as a writer, as a filmmaker, and what the script needed to be, all these things coincided.

DEADLINE: What breakthrough ended Inception’s 10-year script gestation period?
NOLAN: The final piece of the puzzle for me with the script I’d been trying to finish for about 10 years was figuring out how to connect emotionally with the central character in a way that would make it a more emotional story. The reason I got hung up on this is that I had first devised the rules of the world, using the heist genre as a way in. That genre embraces exposition and so it’s good for teaching a new set of rules to an audience. The problem is, heist movies tend to be a bit superficial, glamorous, and fun. They don’t tend to be emotionally engaging. What I realized after banging my head into a wall for 10 years trying to finish it is that when you’re dealing with the world of dreams, the psyche, and potential of a human mind, there has to be emotional stakes. You have to deal with issues of memory and desire. I figured out the emotional connection of the central character to the audience and made this about following his journey home to his children and his love for his wife. Those really were the final pieces of the puzzle that let me finish the script.

DEADLINE: While you were waiting for that solution, were there movies that came along that convinced you the technology was there to translate your visuals to the screen?
NOLAN: On The Dark Knight we really tried to push ourselves to achieve a lot of large-scale effects in camera, to really create a world by shooting on location, all around the world, and by doing very large in-camera gags like flipping an 18-wheeler truck on a busy downtown street, for real. Coming out the other side of that experience and having enjoyed it as much as I did left me feeling like we had a great team of people who could devise and photograph these kinds of visuals. I came away feeling well equipped to take on the world of Inception and the kind of outlandish imagery it would require. Most of the technology employed for the imagery of Inception is fairly old-fashioned. There is some newer technology that the guys at Double Negative brought to the table. The most daunting aspect of the visuals, for me, had always been things that had been based on in-camera technologies, like achieving zero gravity by building sets with different orientations and doing tricks with wires. Those techniques were based on seeing Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 when I was a kid, falling in love with deception and the magical tricks he did to convince an audience there was zero gravity. The thing that really gave me confidence to take on my film had more to do with my own experience, rather than technology in other people’s films. It was more about having had the opportunity to do some really large-scale filmmaking and getting comfortable with the big machine that’s involved in that to really get a handle on pushing the envelope with what we’d be able to do on set and in-camera.

DEADLINE: What advantages did writing on spec give you?
NOLAN: I had actually gone in and met with Warner Bros years before, right after I’d finished Insomnia, and described the project when I was starting to write it. They wanted to hire me then to write it, but I turned away from that opportunity. I realized with a project like Inception I would be trying to cross certain boundaries of genre and push the envelope of what mainstream movies are allowed to with an audience. I felt it very important that I develop the script on my own. I had to finish it on the page, so at least there would be a specific and clear document in front of the studio of what this film was going to be. The advantage of writing on spec was I got to really thrash out in my own head how to make these things work, and then offer it to the studio for backing and collaboration. I don’t think I would have been able to develop this with someone else. I needed to at least get the first practical draft done on my own and then bring the studio into the process.

DEADLINE: Danny Boyle recently told Deadline he admires how you take $160 million and make it look like $320 million. What is the most stressful thing about steering such a large creative bet?
NOLAN: The most stressful and difficult part of steering a large movie like Inception is that you are taking on the responsibility of communicating with a very wide audience. You can’t ever hide behind the notion of, ‘Okay, they just don’t get it,’ or, ‘Certain people just don’t get it.’ You have to be mindful of the size of your audience, and you have to communicate in a way that lets them in. That can be difficult when you’re trying to do something more challenging. There really is a delicate balance between presenting people with elements that are unfamiliar, but still giving them an entertaining experience for their willingness to come on that ride with you and accept a certain degree of confusion. That’s the most difficult thing, but it’s also a challenge I’ve very much enjoyed over the last few films.

DEADLINE: Did Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures say yes when they read the script or did you have to show them visuals?
NOLAN: I try and get everybody on board with a project simply through the words on the page and my explanation of what I see, how I’m going to put these things onscreen and what they’re going to feel like. And so, the process of getting Inception greenlit was involving a wide group of people at Warner Bros, from creative and production, distribution and marketing. Everybody read the script. Then I came in and fielded a lot of their questions about how particular visuals were going to be done, and what the feel of the film would be, and very much about how the audience would be able to orient themselves to the film. That was always a concern by everybody who read the script. I was happy to talk about that, how we would use the design of the different dream levels to help orient the audience as the film rolls into more furious cross-cutting in the last third.

DEADLINE: How did you explain to them the three levels of dreams?
NOLAN: I told them one of the dream levels is in the rain, one of them is a night interior, one is outdoors in the snow. That meant that even in a close-up, you would be able to tell which level you were in as you cross-cut. They were very aware of the risky nature of the project, but they just got very excited about seeing the film.

DEADLINE: What checks and balances do you use to ensure that creatively you are not repeating yourself?
NOLAN: With The Dark Knight you had to strike a balance of familiarity with the audience. It is a sequel, and they want familiar elements, things they liked from the first film. But you always have to be very aware that the audience is extremely ruthless in its demand for newness, novelty and freshness. At script stage, we really tried to thrash that out—are we striking that right balance? Inception was very similar. We were trying to strike a balance between a certain familiarity and comfort zone in terms of genre and how they watched a film. That was mostly attended to by leaning on the formal elements of the heist movie structure. We were trying to strike a balance between giving the audience familiar elements to hang onto, and trying to re-contextualize those elements into something hopefully the audience hadn’t seen before. We dealt with this somewhat even on Memento — that was a very unusually structured film with its reverse chronology. I wrote the script to have a very familiar underlying rhythm to it, a conventional three-act structure in terms of the way the audience gets information from the beginning to the end. So there’s this substructure of familiarity with the film-noir genre and the three-act structure underneath this more complicated reverse-chronology super-structure. It is something I’ve always really tried to pay attention to. If you’re trying to challenge an audience and make them look at elements in a different way, you’ve got to give them a familiar context to hang onto.

DEADLINE: Did you let actors read a full script of Inception before they committed?
NOLAN: The challenge is striking a balance between allowing the actor going to work on the project to feel in collusion, and like they’ll be genuine creative collaborators. When you go to an actor like Leonardo DiCaprio you have to be extremely respectful of his creative role in things. You have to embrace him as a fully-authorized collaborator. It was very important to show him a complete script and talk to him over a number of days and fill him in on every aspect of what I was going to do with it. But a guy like Leo is happy to do that within the context of privacy, and he was very gracious about understanding that if he didn’t want to do the movie, he wasn’t going to go around town telling everybody about it. You have to trust that in people. For me, getting into a collaboration with an actor is about trust, both ways. It was a great pleasure working with new people like Leo on this film. We had a lot of creative collaboration on the script once he came onboard; it became a hugely valuable part of the process. I don’t ever like to feel myself in the position to demand of an actor that they trust I’m going to do something worthwhile. I feel a responsibility to articulate what it is I’m going to do. Whether that’s showing them a full script or sitting down with them and describing my ideas in detail. It’s a very healthy burden on me as a film director to be able to articulate what I want to do, to inspire actors, rather than just saying, take it on trust I’ll be able to do something worthwhile.

DEADLINE: Why didn’t you shoot in 3D which studios like Warner Bros have made a priority?
NOLAN: We looked at shooting Inception in 3D and decided we’d be too restricted by the technology. We wouldn’t have been able to shoot on film the way we’d like to. We looked at post-converting it, actually did some tests, and they were very good. But we didn’t have time to do the conversion that we would have been satisfied with. Inception deals with subjectivity, quite intimate associations between the audience and the perceived state of reality of the characters. In the case of Batman, I view those as iconic, operatic movies, dealing with larger-than-life characters. The intimacy that the 3D parallax illusion imposes isn’t really compatible with that. We are finishing our story on the next Batman, and we want to be consistent to the look of the previous films. There was more of an argument for a film like Inception. I’ve seen work in 3D like Avatar that’s exciting. But, for me, what was most exciting about Avatar was the creation of a world, the use of visual effects, motion capture, performance capture, these kinds of things. I don’t think Avatar can be reduced to its 3D component, it had so much more innovation going on that’s extremely exciting. 3D has always been an interesting technical format, a way of showing something to the audience. But you have to look at the story you’re telling: is it right?

DEADLINE: Inception was lauded in Hollywood as a dose of originality in a summer largely devoid of it. Studios rely on tentpoles, but are they concerned enough about originality?
NOLAN: I’m not sure I’d put that down to studio reliance on tent poles. Maybe it’s just particularly working with Warners Bros, but in my experience with the studio system, they have always understood the need for freshness and not just something the audience has seen before. I’m not sure I’d pin it down necessarily to studio reliance on tent poles, because I think it’s as possible to make over-familiar small movies as it is to make over-familiar tent poles. In fact, the honest truth is that when you look at some of the more original successes over time, conceptually a lot of them are tent poles, from Star Wars to Avatar.

DEADLINE: Do you see an opportunity to revisit the world of Inception with a sequel?
NOLAN: I’ve always liked the potential of the world. It’s an infinite, or perhaps I should say an infinitesimal world that fascinates me. At the moment, we’re exploring a video game, which is something I’ve been very interested in doing for a number of years. This lends itself nicely to that. As far as sequels go, I think of Inception as one film, but that’s how I approach all my films. When I was making Batman Begins, I certainly didn’t have any thoughts of doing a second Batman film, let alone a third. You never quite know where your creative interests are going to take you, but when I was making Inception, I viewed it as a stand-alone movie.

DEADLINE: Since this is awards season, can you describe what it meant to you when Heath Ledger won the Oscar for The Dark Knight shortly after he died?
NOLAN: I was extremely gratified to see people responding to work that I knew was great. And I was very proud to have been a part in its creation, or at least in creating a world where a great artist could really show what he could do. It was a great honor to be in any way involved in that.

  1. Excellent interview Mike, Chris Nolan once again proves himself to be an intelligent and articulate director that clearly loves films and all aspects of film-making. “Inception” is not flawless but it is without a doubt one of the greatest cinematic experiences in recent years.

    Can’t wait for “The Dark Knight Rises”

  2. You’ve done it again, Mike. Another great interview with Nolan. Man, your batting average makes Ichiro look podunk.

    Solid hit after hit after hit. Keep em coming. And thank you for all of the great reads.

    (I admire what Nolan has done with Inception and his other flicks. He has solid skills, though I often wonder if the brilliance of his ideas are fully realized in the execution. I was at a gathering of produced writers not long ago, and several argued Dark Night was wildly overrated. I really love Dark Knight so I pressed them to explain their disappointment in the movie. They couldn’t articulate their gripes well other than to say that movie was “baroque,” “ostentatious” “celluloid mish-mash.” I came to this conclusion: they were jealous of Nolan and sipping on a whole bunch of hater-ade!)

    1. The honest truth is that Dark Knight and Inception are really not that well written. Inception, even more so. If you or anyone else NOT Chris Nolan/A-list director had written Inception, it just wouldn’t have been made. That’s just reality. The script overall makes no sense. Some great ideas there, but mediocre/amateur execution.

      With that said, I’m GLAD Inception got made. We need to see far more original ideas on screen. And 800 mil worldwide means the audience loved it.

      Let’s get those original specs out there!

      1. no, you just didnt understand it, it was actually a very well written movie, and i bet if you lwent back and rewatched it, you would understand it

      2. haha that’s laughable. Inception was incredibly well written and executed. too bad you didn’t understand the film – but it makes sense to me and MANY others.
        Best movie I have ever seen. Thought provoking.

      3. how do those scripts make no sense?
        are you going to tell me momento makes no sense either?
        your post makes no sense.

        1. I think there are a few problems with Inception’s script. For one, most of the dialog is ALL exposition. There’s even a character who’s sole purpose is exposition: Ellen Page. Do this the next time you watch the movie: count how many times she asks a questions. I’d say over half her lines are questions, that’s insane. I understand the need for a character like that, but it would have been nice if Page had a little bit more to do than ask questions. Questions feel like pit-stops, not plot movement. The first hour is hard to re-watch since it takes forever to set things up.

          There’s only certain small things that make no sense. Why didn’t Cobb just have Michael Caine fly the kids back for him? That’s his main motive, not clearing his name. Just ask papa Caine to get those kids. Zero gravity also isn’t used accurately. The elevator could not move that fast in 0 gravity for the kick to work. Also, why is there 0 zero gravity on the second dream level, but not the third in the snow forrest fight?

          And how does Eames pull that huge gun out? How do they get their guns? Can you dream up weapons?

          And before you say, “YOU DONT UNDERSTAND!” I actually really enjoy Inception. I love the last hour and a half of the film. I just wish their wasn’t so much damn clunky exposition.

          1. Also,
            I would have loved the final shot more if I didn’t see the same idea in Vanilla Sky and eXistenZ.

          2. The elevator could not move that fast in 0 gravity for the kick to work, but there was no 0 gravity when Arthur blowed it up, couse the van fell into the water, 0 gravity ended when van ended free falling!

            How do they get their guns?! they get their guns in the same way they get tho whole world with it’s content surrounding them!

            The first hour is hard to re-watch since it takes forever to set things up?! that movie is a masterpiece from the very first seconds to the very last frame saying Inception! and without all that expositions you wouldn’t have got a thing from it!

          3. The elevator could not move that fast in 0 gravity for the kick to work, but there was no 0 gravity when Arthur blew it up, couse the van fell into the water, 0 gravity ended when van ended free falling!

            How do they get their guns?! they get their guns in the same way they get tho whole world with it’s content surrounding them!

            The first hour is hard to re-watch since it takes forever to set things up?! that movie is a masterpiece from the very first seconds to the very last frame saying Inception! and without all that expositions you wouldn’t have got a thing from it!

          4. Fair point, but why is there still 0-gravity on Arhtur’s level, but not on the snow fortress?

            And at what point do they say that’s where they get their guns? If that’s the case, why not dream up something (the whole time you’re in that situation) something bigger? And how is it a part of the world when Eames refers to it as “dreaming bigger”?

            Exposition: Obviously it’s needed, but why halt the plot from barely moving forward for an hour? Why do I need to see Ellen Page draw a maze when, at the end, it’s useless? Her character isn’t even a character, but a plot device. She’s only there to raise questions. Watch the film and count how many questions she asks, it’s insane.

          5. dreaming bigger: it’s something like ‘Matrix’… Neo can do things that others can’t, becouse of his superior mind, though even for him there are some limitations…
            Nolan says: I’ve always liked the potential of the world. It’s an infinite, or perhaps I should say an infinitesimal world that fascinates me. – that’s what it is… Cobb and others are trained and skilled, they are professinals… Ariadne was changing the world during the dream, – averything is possible in it if you are good enough.

            “Why do I need to see Ellen Page draw a maze when, at the end, it’s useless?” – c’mon, things like that makes the movie ‘real’, when it’s not all about action, when you are taking stairs to the next level, not an elevator… how old are you? why do I have to explain that the drawn maze was a test to get the right architect for the job… “She’s only there to raise questions” – it’s fair, she is the new one in the business. all this seems to hard for you, go watch Percy Jackson.

            I loved the movie, I’ve watched it attentively many times, I never got bored, always amazed, always astonished, and the ONLY THING that wasn’t quite clear was the absence(evident at least) of influence of second dream condition(0 gravity) on the third dream, – call it confusing, but it is the so insignificant! it’s very unfair to say towards this masterpiece that “The script overall makes no sense” or even “only certain small things that make no sense” or it’s “not that well written” or “it takes forever to set things up” or the most senseless claiming that it’s too expository!

          6. ZJ- Really? I like how you’re acting more defensive than Nolan would. It’s a movie. No need to act like someone just slept with your wife. ;)

            “I’ve always liked the potential of the world. It’s an infinite, or perhaps I should say an infinitesimal world that fascinates me.”- Where is this said in THE ACTUAL FILM? I don’t care what Nolan says in an interview, I’m interested what’s actually onscreen.

            On the maze: fair point. My issue with Page is that THAT character is only there for exposition. Watch the movie again, 90% of her dialog are questions.

            I never said the script didn’t make sense. For the most part, I think it’s a really good script with some great stuff. That 0 gravity bit not being on the third level is not an actual issue I have with the film. I’ve seen it a few times, and I REALLY enjoy Inception. The first hour is not exciting for me like the last hour and a half. The first hour is setting things up, I get that, but that doesn’t mean it’s exciting to watch. The Matrix has a constant momentum. It sets up rules while also having a lot of plot momentum.

            No, I don’t think it’s a masterpiece, but why does that bother you so much? I really like the film. I don’t go into a film saying, “THIS BETTER BE AMAZING!” I’m sure Nolan would be just as happy to hear from someone “I really enjoyed it” as to “IT’S AMAZING!” I was entertained, that’s what he wanted. He achieved his goal.

          7. “Where is this said in THE ACTUAL FILM? I don’t care what Nolan says in an interview, I’m interested what’s actually onscreen.” – :D :D :D WHAT?! IT IS “actually onscreen”. see, this is what I was talking about, couple of words haven’t been “said in THE ACTUAL FILM”(cause there was no need to) and you didn’t get “the potential of the world”(which was quite obviouse)… too expository, but not enough, – a paradox, how ironic :D …

            white flag: let’s end this…

            I’m not bothered about anyone to not considering the movie as masterpiece, I may overvalued it by myself… it’s surely a great movie, masterpiece or not? – time will tell.

          8. Where is that shown in the film? Just when Arthur pulls out that huge grenade launcher? Why not actually develop that then. If the possibilities are endless, why not actually take advantage of that? Why not dream up crazy weapons to easily destroy those drones?

            I don’t think it’s ever said in the movie that things are endlessly possible or whatever.

            And yes, a film can be too expository on certain aspects and forget about others. A nice balance would have been nice. A whole hour of exposition is just draining. I feel bad for Ellen Page every time I watch the movie. Just about all her lines are questions.

            White flag? Good to know you’re finally realizing it’s just a movie. Conversation is welcomed. No need to act like someone is slapping you across the face for only liking a movie you love.

      4. amateur execution? i think your statements need a little more qualification. whether you like them or not, nolan, dicaprio and many others working on this film are veteran filmmakers, not amateurs. for being so sure that the scripts make no sense, semantics have surely escaped you here.

        i agree that no one other than nolan would have been able to get this movie made; that truth is self-evident. not only did he conceive of it, but he’s the only director that could have pulled it off.

        well written or not, both films are well executed. perhaps a mere screenwriter could have written better scripts, but it’s doubtful they could have made better films.

      5. If you mean that it makes no sense psychologically, then I agree with you wholeheartedly.

        To have the worst ramifications imaginable from playing with the dream tech happen to the some of the very first people messing with it was ridiculously one in a million. * The tech the main characters were dealing with was explicitly not something everyone and their grandmothers were using.

        * By this I’m only talking about the specific tragedy the main character suffers, not that horrible things don’t happen with new experimentation. If you have seen the movie you know what I’m talking about, and if you have not I won’t spoil it for you. :)

      6. Have any of you actually read the script for Inception? You can’t say the script was not well-written based on solely watching the film.

        1. So are you saying there shouldn’t be oscars for scripts? Members don’t read them, they see what’s on-screen. That’s what matters at the end of the day: who’s credited for the script.

    2. the dark knight’s imperfection lies in the 2 boats scene and the ending fight with the joker in a not quite completed yet high rise building.

      the first 90 minutes of dark knight is excellent.

      1. That is if you don’t count plenty of unnecessary material, a character that runs off killing a bunch of innocent people after the man who blew up his beloved said, “I TOTALLY didn’t do it! I’m just crazy and shit. THAT’S A GOOD REASON TO KILL PEOPLE GO KILL PEOPLE HAHAHAHA” and a boring, Sexualized Strong Woman Personality character thrown in for the heck of it.

        Heath is almost a reason enough to see the movie, but I advise new watchers to do some fastforwarding.

  3. “I don’t think Avatar can be reduced to it’s 3D component. It had so much more innovation going on”. Nolan is far too polite. Avatar was awful and he should have said so.

    1. So you actually know what’s inside of Mr. Nolan’s mind? Great to know!

      The fact is Avatar is brilliant in so many levels, and Chris knows it, being the great filmmaker that he is.

    2. Oh Jesus Christ…he appeared to think Avatar was exciting, do we really have to hear the bullshit again from super-Nolan fans who somehow think he’s in competition with Cameron? Isn’t enough to leave it at he appeared to like it for what it was?

      1. so Nolan isn’t in competition with CAMERON?! CAMERON?! go split yourself into half and sink in the Atlantic, otherwise stop eating that bullshit you mentioned!

    1. That’s the whole point of a heist movie – think Oceans, Italian Job, etc. – the gang talks in detail about how they’ll pull of the job, and then they go ahead and do it. It’s a staple of the genre.

      So – “okay.”

      1. Except in all of those heist films — which are excellent by the way — you don’t feel like you’re being talked to death.

        To justify one’s lack of ability to write expository dialog without piling on the thickest exposition since the last Roland Emmerich film is just plain sad.

    2. To clarify: I only mention this quote because the exposition in “Inception” was by far the most excrutiating aspect of an otherwise masterpiece of a film.

      1. what the hell is wrong with you people?! it’s a whole new dimension, an unknown technology that gets us in deeper and deeper to an unexplored world… + the heist thing to all that… how the hell do you describe, deliver, explane the whole thing without all that expositions?! you morons think you are smarter than Nolan and the rest of the film creators?! – go then and try it!

    3. You know in every heist movie EVER they explain the plan before they do the job? And how they do the same exact thing with Inception?

      That’s probably what he was talking about.

  4. It’s been said many a time before, and I’ll say it again here — Chris Nolan is a genius. Pure and simple. Easily one of the best/most innovative stories of the year.

    A great interview as usual, Mike. Keep ’em coming.

  5. Really a tremendous interview. And, it shows that collaboration doesn’t have to be a dirty word for an “artist.”

  6. The Heist genre DOES embrace exposition. Look at the Ocean’s movies (especially 13). “Okay, we rig this machine this way, you go to Mexico to load the die, blah blah blah blah, you use the fake nose, you pretend to be the hotel inspector.” The beauty of a heist film (or a film noir, like “Chinatown” which is somewhere around 110 minutes of exposition) is in watching the pay-off (read: the fucking heist).

    And re Avatar, I don’t think Nolan was necessarily commenting on the storytelling so much as the technical aspects, insofar as when you take away the 3D, what Cameron did in terms of having cameras that render the motion-capture/CGI IN CAMERA was a technical leap forward for movies (seriously, have you seen that stuff? He could shoot looking at Pandora through the video screen on his handheld camera).

    Otherwise, fantastic interview. Nolan is such a cerebral guy, if you read something like this interview it’s hard to say “Well he got lucky.” It almost makes me angry to see exactly how well he understands what he’s doing. Watching his commentary on “Memento” made me appreciate that movie on whole other levels. As his body of work grows, Nolan will become one of, if not the, pre-eminent filmmaker of his generation and, if he keeps making movies this good, will one day be remembered among the truly great filmmakers of American cinema.

    1. I agree with you Chris. Nolan is pretty damn bright and cerebral. I put him and Fincher in the same category in terms of sheer brain power.

      Their collective synapses are firing like the Fourth of July.

      — bobby the saint

  7. What a cool guy. The next Batman movie will be awesome. This interview makes me want to re-watch inception.

  8. I completely get where Mr Nolan is coming from in terms of the superficiality of the heist genre, as in most cases they are almost anti-hero films driven by greed, though presented in a Robin Hood ‘Rob from the rich, give to the poor manner’. And I also agree with his views on the use of and almost the specific need for exposition as these films are stories in which a group of people are introduced to us and then talk between themselves about their plan and then get on and do it. Which is obviously going to be expository. I much prefered Mr Nolan’s way of teaching us about the world and workings of his film through Ellen Page’s Ariadne character to the way we learnt about The Matrix through Neo/Keanu Reeves as when watching The Matrix I laughed at the idea that in the middle of all the exposition in the first two acts where we learn about the world of the film we see a scene in which Neo learns all martial arts styles in seconds, in effect skipping the need for thousands of hours of training but also in a way highlighting the fact that we did not have to follow Neo through every step of his training. This jarred with me for a good reason oddly enough and made me yearn for a version of the film in which Neo learns everything very early on in the film when Trinity and Morpheus realise it would be quicker and easily to upload all their speil about the way the world is now and Neo’s role in everything. So us the audience never learn anything and Neo takes down the agent Smith effortlessly and negates the ‘need’ for the superficialy visually impressive but unsatisfying 2nd and 3rd films. But that would be more like one of Michael Haneke’s ‘funny games’. In terms of an Inception sequel the most interesting part of the film was the ambiguity of the ending, of which I loved the mainstream audiences collaborative groan at something as simple as a cut to black. But one that when used by a masterful director means more than the entire lifes work of another Michael, surname Bay. More ‘smart’ blockbusters I say!

  9. Bravo, Mr. Nolan!
    (I knew Inception, Dark Knight and Memento, but I didn’t realize he also did The Prestige. There is nothing this guy cannot do…)

    1. Actually Christopher Nolan can’t make a bad movie; true genious in his work. I don’t know why people say probably one of the best filmmaker’s of this generation, he is definitely one of the best of all time. Up with Hitchcock, Coppola, Kubrick, Welles, all the greats.

  10. Mike Fleming , you are the man ! And, you are the main reason I come to this website , so I can read your glorious interviews: Michael De Luca, Anne Hathaway, Scott Rudin, Ben Affleck, Mark Wahlberg, etc… They are all insightful. Please, keep it coming !

  11. My first thought was “Damn, I want a pitch meeting with this guy!”, but I think I would just like to have coffee with him and pick his brain. I’m ready for “The Dark Knight Rises”.

  12. This is an excellent interview; a thought-provoking and intriguing look into the mind of one of the most creative personalities in Hollywood today.

    I’m also impressed with Mr. Nolan’s reasons for not filming Inception in 3D, and my poor 3D-beaten eyes are grateful that he took a pass on 3D.

  13. Brilliant interview Mike. Very enlightening. You really got Nolan to open up to his thoughts for us. Can’t wait for more.

  14. Very good interview. Chris’ conversations always lend something to the aspiring ear. As someone who is seriously considering a career in professional writing, I owe a debt of gratitude to this man for always taking the time to say just a little bit more about the way he approaches his projects.

    Inception in the video game format is quite possibly the best way to explore that world beyond the film. It is a highly immersive medium, perhaps moreso than film if it’s done well. I can’t wait to see where the world is taken; Batman Begins the game is still one of the better adaptations from a film to date.

    As for the third Batman film, we can only guess what happens next for Gotham City being in the shadow of the Bat.

  15. look at chris nolan’s imdb. 6 movies in 10 years. the only misstep, imo, was insomnia. other than that you got: 2 batmans, memento, prestige, and inception. all good to great movies, all entertaining as hell. a simply stunning body of work in only 1 decade. amazing!

    again, nice interview, fleming.

  16. Great Interview.

    However it makes me even more frustrated with the Blu-Ray disc release for not having a commentary track.

    I hope Christopher Nolan gets some big Awards for Inception

  17. Nolan is a fucking genius… loved all his movies… n yeah.. Insomnia was well portrayed too… though still i think his best was THE PRESTIGE.. though his other films like Inception and TDK will count for me as second and third best in the world devoid of originality

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