Back to IndieWire

Is ‘Tenet’ an ‘Inception’ Sequel? John David Washington Says They’re More Like ‘In-Laws’

John David Washington weighs in on the internet's most popular Christopher Nolan fan theories.



Warner Bros.

Few filmmakers inspire the level of internet fan theories as Christopher Nolan. His intricate storytelling and time-bending narratives are always being dissected by fans on social media and in Reddit threads, which is why Esquire decided to have “Tenet” star John David Washington weigh in on some of the internet’s most popular Nolan-centric fan theories. The specifics of the “Tenet” plot are shrouded in secrecy, but theories have pegged Nolan’s latest as a secret sequel to “Inception” since the first teaser for the film debuted last August. Washington would not confirm or deny if that’s the case, although he did admit there is a connection between the Nolan time-twisters.

“I’d say [‘Tenet’] is an in-law to ‘Inception,’” Washington said, choosing his words carefully. “They’re related by marriage. They get together for Thanksgivings, family barbecues, like that kind of thing. Other than that, one lives in Europe, the other one lives in Compton.”

Whether or not the “in-law” relationship between “Tenet” and “Inception” means they share overt plot threads or characters remains to be seen. Washington could just be making a simple connection between the Nolan tentpoles since both feature plots that rely heavily on the manipulation of time. Last week’s “Tenet” official trailer revealed Nolan’s latest concerns itself with “time inversion,” but that confirmation has only given rise to more questions.

Among the other Nolan fan theories Washington weighed in on was one popular opinion that Heath Ledger’s “Joker” is the actual hero of “The Dark Knight,” not Christian Bale’s Batman/Bruce Wayne. The theory explains that it is Joker who cleans up the streets of Gotham and rids the police force of corruption. It’s one fan theory Washington isn’t buying.

“This is twisted. The Joker, a hero? That’s disgusting,” Washington said. “He says he’s an agent of chaos. This guy wants to see the world burn. What’s heroic about that? He had issues, so did Batman. Don’t get me wrong, they both need to talk to somebody.”

Back to “Tenet,” Washington tells Esquire in a new interview that filming Nolan’s latest was so relentless he was unable to run for a month after production wrapped. “There were some times I couldn’t get up out of bed,” he said. “[Even] a couple weeks in, I was worried, very concerned I wasn’t going to be able to finish this thing, and I didn’t want to tell anybody because I was like, ‘Oh, I will die for this…’ This film deserves it. Even if I break something, I am not going to say nothing to nobody until this thing gets done.”

Watch Washington break down more Nolan fan theories in Esquire’s video interview below.

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