Tenet, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, has become the most important film of 2020 – and if Christopher Nolan’s new film can succeed in the international box, when its shooting starts on August 26, it is likely to be a indications whether other films in the studio will see cinema releases this year. Now, in a new interview for The Irish Times, many of the film’s stars and producer have opened up about the challenges of filming.
Emma Thomas, who produces Christopher Nolan films (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 than bigger. “With every movie, we have the same conversation,”; she says. “Are we going to do a little this time? In a world where studios have become more and more risky, we’re just lucky that every movie we’ve made has worked. So we continue to capitalize on the latest movie.”
Thomas also says that while Nolan’s previous films often have a scene they know will be tricky (citing the hospital explosion by The Dark Knight), Tenet has a few. “With Tenet it felt like every time we would do one of those great things, you rest for five minutes and then look at the schedule set for next week and then there’s another one,” she said.
Robert Pattinson – who stars in the film and gives some of the best interviews in Hollywood – recalls how difficult some of the action scenes were to film, referring to a specific directional sequence they filmed early on. “I’m correcting myself when I’m beating between cars at 80 miles per hour and Chris is behaving like this’ s completely normal,” he says.
Pattinson says he is generally paired with John David Washington, the film’s main protagonist, and since the actor is a former NFL player, he is in extremely good condition. “The maximum exercise I do most of the time is a casual walk,” says Pattinson. “John David can run all day. It was good that I ended up being quite capable. But definitely, in the beginning, there were days that I just couldn’t walk after.”
He also revealed that Washington had to explain the elements of the plot to him. “Until the last week of filming, I was talking to John David and asking him some very basic questions about who my character was. And John David was like, ‘Wait, you don’t know that?’ “But it’s complicated! You’re not just feeding the story.”
Kenneth Branagh, meanwhile, plays the villain of the film, which he says is “darker than anything (he) has ever played”. According to Branagh, Nolan told him to make the character “inappropriately bad”. He also says there were two scenes he filmed where he was not really sure what was going on – the first time it happened in his career.
Tenet will have a limited US release on September 3 in select markets, if all goes as planned.