Back to IndieWire

Christopher Nolan Had to Remain ‘Very Calm and Patient’ with ‘Tenet’ Cast’s Plot Questions

Nolan says "Tenet" will push everything moviegoers know about the spy genre into unexpected territory.



Warner Bros.

The “Tenetofficial trailer released last week sent Christopher Nolan fans on a mission to figure out what “time inversion” means, and it sounds like the answer wasn’t that easy for the “Tenet” cast to understand either. John David Washington is front and center in “Tenet,” starring as a time-inverting spy character known only as the Protagonist. Washington said not a day of filming went by when he wasn’t picking Nolan’s brain for answers to the “Tenet” story.

“Every day I had questions for [Nolan],” Washington said in a recent chat with video game host Geoff Keighley (via Digital Spy). “But he was very gracious, and he answered them very calmly and patiently. It was important that the actors could track the story correctly, so we could tell it the best way we could, and he was very patient with us. I say that very politely.”

In a new interview with Total Film magazine, Nolan says his intention with “Tenet” is to take moviegoers’ expectations of the spy genre and shatter them. The director said, “It’s a film of great ambition and great scale that takes a genre, namely the spy film, and tries to take it into some new territory, and tries to take the audience on a ride they might not have had before, and might not be expecting.”

Nolan adds, “We’re looking at first and foremost giving the audience an incredible ride in the spy movie genre, but using the audience’s facility with following the conventions of that genre to push it into some interesting and unexpected territory.”

But will moviegoers understand “Tenet”? Robert Pattinson told GQ magazine earlier this month that he still doesn’t understand “Tenet,” although Nolan maintains that fully comprehending his new movie means accepting there are major ambiguities that have to be parsed afterwards.

“A complete grasp of the script, in the case of ‘Tenet,’ is one that understands and acknowledges the need for this film to live on in the audience’s mind, and suggest possibilities in the audience’s mind,” Nolan said. “And [Pattinson] was very much a partner in crime with that.”

Warner Bros. is set to open “Tenet” in theaters July 17, although the release date could be delayed depending on whether or not enough movie theaters across the country are opened. The most recent “Tenet” trailer promised the tentpole would be “coming to theaters.”

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Film and tagged , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox