A ridiculously talented director + a great cast + an interesting and original story + amazing imagery + jaw dropping action + heartfelt emotions= win win win win win win win win win win……and more win. Christopher Nolan has truly become the modern master of balancing entertainment and substance. 2010 has been a great year for Leonardo DiCaprio after an amazing performance in Shutter Island and now with an even more astonishing performance in Inception. I caught up with Christopher Nolan and Leonardo DiCaprio – two men at the top of their games – at the London Press conference for Inception. Check out what they had to say below:
What was your initial inspiration behind Inception, and how did it develop into the movie it is today?
Christopher Nolan: I’d always wanted to make a film that addressed dreams, and do something set in that world. About ten years ago I focused in on the idea of a exploring a technology that might allow people to share dreams, and the uses and abuses of that, and came up with this idea of doing a heist film set in the world of dreams with a technology that could be used to penetrate a person’s subconscious.
Inception is an emotionally complex and complicated film. When you were first approached to appear in the film, did you understand it?
Leonardo DiCaprio: It certainly took a couple of readings, but it was really the interaction with Chris, one-on-one. It’s an idea that’s been locked in his mind for eight years now. So for me a lot of the preparation was understanding what he wanted to accomplish and achieve. Being able to sit down with him and understand that he had this concept of doing a highly entertaining Hollywood film, that is existential, cerebral, surreal, and that delves into various states of the subconscious. The way that he wanted to put that up on screen involved us really talking with him at great lengths to truly understand his concepts.
How did you find the process of creating the rules of Inception’s dream worlds, as compared to the realism of The Dark Knight?
Christopher Nolan: I think that with every film you take on, you try to establish the rules and the tone of what you’re working with. In taking on the idea of dreams, you have a real burden on the rules of the film, because dreams are infinite and have infinite potential, which is the thing that really makes them fascinating in the first place. But it also makes them hard to address in drama, because anything can happen, and therefore how does anything matter? The rules of the world were designed to impose limits. The key thing for that, in my head, was to make it the story of a con, as soon as you take on the idea of trying to fool somebody and creating a reality for somebody else, naturally the team have to adhere to certain rules within the dream to avoid fracturing the reality of it.
Did you have get up to scratch on the world of dreams when researching your role?
Leonardo DiCaprio: I tried to take a very traditional approach to researching this film and read the analysis of dreams immediately and tried to pick apart the psychology of what things represented in the dream world. But I quickly realised that this was a whole new type of preparation, that meant basically talking with Chris at great length about this cathartic therapy session my character goes on, the psychoanalysis. In doing that we created this really powerful emotional journey.
As far as the analysis of the dreams in this movie, and how Chris was going to make four different states of the human subconscious interact with each other in a cohesive plot structure, I left that ENTIRELY up to Chris (laughs). I did not want to get involved, because Chris is obviously very capable of pulling off complex narratives like this and making them emotionally engaging for an audience. It’s reassuring as an actor to know you’re dealing with someone who has a great track record of accomplishing stuff like that. As far as my own dreams, I’m not a big dreamer, I think obviously we suppress things in life, emotions and thoughts, we wake up, and we should look at that. Ironically I had a really powerful dream the other day, I won’t get into the details of what it was but I remember sitting there saying to myself, forgetting totally that I’ve done this movie, but saying to myself, wait a minute, these details in this dream are real and I can create these dreams and manipulate the environment, I’ve heard this somewhere before (laughs). And I started to play with the dream in a very surreal way. I had that moment of knowing I was dreaming and being able to combat my surrounding so it was kind of cool. I had no previous knowledge I had done Inception or heard of this movie in that dream state so it was kind of fun.
The film was kept under a wraps. Why was this, and was it difficult to maintain such secrecy?
Christopher Nolan: It’s difficult to keep anything fresh in movies these days, with technology being what it is people seem to know everything there is to know before you’ve even made it. For me, as a film goer, I like nothing more than to sit in a cinema, have the lights go down and not know what I’m about to see and every time we go to make a film we do everything we can to just systematize things so we’re able to make the film in private. So then once it’s finished it’s up to the audience to make of it what they will.
What were the challenges of making this movie?
Christopher Nolan: For me, the underlying tone of the thing is best summed up by Leo’s character in the film when he says that dreams feel real while we’re in them. So everything we did in a production sense was an attempt to try and retain a tactile sense of reality to the world of the dreams, so they felt like possible worlds even as impossible things were happening. This creates challenges for all departments, for example, when you have a freight train barrelling down the street smashing cars and things. We wanted to do these things for real, so they would feel possible to the audience and that we wouldn’t have an obviously surreal quality to things. That’s why we went to all these locations and travelled all around the world, and shot in blizzards and so forth.