Tenet: Cast And Producer Discuss Difficulties Of Making The Movie

The movie, which is likely to be used as a test case for reopening cinemas in the US, is an extremely ambitious production.


Tenet has, by virtue of the COVID-19 pandemic, become the most important movie of 2020--and whether Christopher Nolan's new film can succeed at the international box office when its rollout begins on August 26 will likely be an indicator of whether or not other studio films will see cinema releases this year. Now, in a new interview with The Irish Times, many of the film's stars and its producer have opened up about the challenges of the shoot.

Emma Thomas, who produces Christopher Nolan's movies (and is also his wife), told The Irish Times that Tenet is their most ambitious film yet, even though the temptation is always there to go smaller rather than bigger. "With every movie, we have the same conversation," she says. "Are we going to do a small one this time? In a world where studios have become more and more risk averse, we’ve just been lucky that every movie we’ve done has worked. So we keep on capitalizing on the last movie."

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Now Playing: 7 Mind-Bending Christopher Nolan Movies To Watch While Waiting For Tenet

Thomas also says that while previous Nolan films often have one scene that they know will be tricky (citing the hospital explosion from The Dark Knight), Tenet has several. "With Tenet it felt like every time we would do one of those big things, you relax for five minutes and then you look at the set schedule for next week and then there’s another one," she said.

Robert Pattinson--who stars in the movie and gives some of the all-time best Hollywood interviews--recalls how difficult some of the action scenes were to film, referencing a specific driving sequence they filmed early on. "I’m s***ting myself as I’m whipping between cars at 80 miles an hour and Chris is behaving like this is completely normal," he says.

Pattinson says that he's generally paired with John David Washington, the film's main protagonist, and since the actor is an ex-NFL player he's in extremely good shape. "The maximum workout I do most of the time is a casual stroll," Pattinson says. "John David can run all day long. It was good that I ended up being pretty fit. But definitely, at the beginning, there were days I just could not walk afterwards."

He also revealed that Washington had to explain elements of the plot to him. "Right up until the last week of the shoot, I was talking to John David and asking him some pretty fundamental questions about who my character was. And John David was like: 'Wait, you don’t know this?' But it’s complicated! You’re not just being fed the story."

Kenneth Branagh, meanwhile, plays the film's villain, who he says is "darker than anything (he's) ever played." According to Branagh, Nolan told him to make the character "unremittingly evil." He also says that there were two scenes he filmed where he wasn't really sure what was going on--the first time that's happened in his career.

Tenet will have a limited US release on September 3 in select markets, if all goes as planned.

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