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Robert Pattinson Spent Months Making ‘Tenet’ Not Even ‘Vaguely Understanding’ the Film

Pattinson needed help from co-star John David Washington to understand Christopher Nolan's new movie.



Warner Bros.

It’s looking like Robert Pattinson’s press tour for Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” is going to be a challenge as the actor may or may not have any idea about what’s going on in the upcoming espionage epic. As part of Esquire’s new profile of “Tenet” leading star John David Washington, Pattinson says he often relied on his fellow actor to help make sense of the “Tenet” plot. Nolan’s new film is shrouded in mystery and centers around international spies who use “time inversion” to prevent World War III. Whatever that means.

“It’s an incredibly complicated movie, like all of Chris’s movies,” Pattinson told Esquire. “I mean, you have to watch them when they’re completely finished and edited three or four times to understand what the true meaning is.”

The actor added, “When you’re doing them, I mean, there were months at a time where I’m like, ‘Am I . . . I actually, honestly, have no idea if I’m even vaguely understanding what’s happening.’ And yeah, I would definitely say that to John David. On the last day, I asked him a question about what was happening in a scene, and it was just so profoundly the wrong take on the character. And it was like, ‘Have you been thinking this the entire time?’”

Pattinson said “there’s definitely a bond in the end in kind of hiding the fact that maybe neither one of us knew exactly what was going on. But then I thought, Ah, but John David actually did know. He had to know what was going on.”

Nolan maintains that Pattinson did understand “Tenet” throughout production. While speaking to GQ magazine earlier this month, the filmmaker said his actor had “a complete grasp of the script.” Although even Nolan admits that understanding “Tenet” means having to think about its ambiguities. As Nolan explained, “A complete grasp of the script 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.”

Filming “Tenet” was made all the more insane by the fact Pattinson landed the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman on the first day of shooting Nolan’s next tentpole. Pattinson said in a new interview with Total Film magazine, “It was a very, very intense weekend. That was a crazy way to start Chris’ film. [laughs] I think I was doing the screen test, as well, on the Saturday before I started.”

Warner Bros. has “Tenet” on the release calendar for July 17.

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