Inception Trivia

(Total Trivia Entries: 77)

“Dream with in a Dream”

Christopher Nolan worked on the script for nearly ten years. To find out more trivia keep on reading.

Casting                        Screenplay & Production


Leonardo DiCaprio was Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas’s only choice for the role of Cobb.



Leonardo DiCaprio was the first actor to be cast in the film. Apparently Nolan had been trying to work with the actor for years and met him several times, but was unable to convince him to appear in any of his films until Inception. DiCaprio finally agreed because he was “intrigued by this concept, this dream-heist notion and how this character’s going to unlock his dreamworld and ultimately affect his real life.”


When DiCaprio read the script he found it to be “very well written, comprehensive but you really had to have Chris in person, to try to articulate some of the things that have been swirling around his head for the last eight years.”


DiCaprio and Nolan spent months talking about the screenplay. Nolan took a long time re-writing the script in order “to make sure that the emotional journey of his character was the driving force of the movie.”


The name of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is the same as that of one of the main characters in Christopher Nolan’s first feature film, Following (1998). Furthermore, both characters have the same profession, which is that they are supposedly thieves.


James Franco was in talks with Christopher Nolan to play Arthur, but was unavailable due to scheduling conflicts.


Apparently Joseph Gordon-Levitt went to his audition after a brief character summary, wearing a full suit “just in case”, unknowingly matching his character’s wardrobe perfectly.



Joseph Gordon-Levitt performed all his own stunts during the fight scene in the rotating hallway.


Christopher Nolan’s first choice to play Ariadne was Evan Rachel Wood, but she turned it down. Nolan then considered casting Emily Blunt, Rachel McAdams, Emma Roberts, Jessy Schram, Taylor Swift and Carey Mulligan. In the end he chose Ellen Page.



Ariadne, in Greek mythology, was the daughter of King Minos of Crete and his queen, Pasiphae. She aided Theseus in overcoming the Minotaur (her half-brother) by giving him a ball of red fleece thread that she was spinning, so that he could find his way out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth.


Kate Winslet was considered for the role of Mal, but she turned it down, citing that she couldn’t see herself as the character.


Marion Cotillard’s character is called ‘Mal’, a word meaning wrong/bad/evil or pain in French, Spanish and Portuguese.



‘Saito’ is one of the ten most common Japanese surnames, especially in northeastern Japan. The Saito descend from Fujiwara no Nobumochi, a 10th-century head of the Saigu Shrine. The meaning of Saito is “purifying flower”.


Apparently the role of Saito was written exclusively for Ken Watanabe because Christopher Nolan felt that although he had appeared in Batman Begins (2005), he did not have much screen time, and should therefore be given a more prominent supporting role.


Robert “Bobby” Fischer is also the name of an American chess player and the eleventh World Chess Champion. He is widely considered one of the greatest chess players of all time. He bears a striking resemblance to Cillian Murphy, whose character’s name is Robert Fischer in the movie.


This is the third Christopher Nolan movie in which Cillian Murphy’s character spends a significant portion of his on-screen time with a cloth bag over his head.



Pete Postlethwaite character is named Maurice Fischer as an homage to artist M.C Escher (full name Maurits Cornelis Escher), whose art was clearly an inspiration for many of the special effects in the film.


“Yusuf” is the Arabic form of “Joseph”, the Biblical figure from Genesis 37-50, who had the gift of interpreting dreams. He was sold out by his brothers to Pharaoh. Through his gift of dream interpretation he helped Pharaoh to prepare for the disaster of the “seven lean years” and was rewarded as a result. The same character is also a Prophet in the Koran.


This is Tom Berenger’s first film to receive a wide theatrical release in the U.S. since Training Day (2001).


There are a total of five Academy Award nominees in the cast; Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Berenger, Pete Postlethwaite, Ken Watanabe, Ellen Page. There are also two Academy Award Winners; Michael Caine and Marion Cotillard.


The following cast in this movie started in TV as children; Leonardo DiCaprio first started appearing on TV as a regular in “Parenthood” (1990) and “Growing Pains” (1985), Joseph Gordon-Levitt had his first TV roles at age seven, Ellen Page by age 10 started as a regular on the series “Pit Pony” (1999) and while still in kindergarten Lukas Haas made his film debut in Testament (1983).


There’s a cameo appearance from Christopher Nolan’s cousin, Miranda Nolan as an air hostess.



Screenplay & Production                        Casting


Nolan first pitched the film to Warner Bros. in 2001, but then felt that he needed more experience making large-scale films, and embarked on Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008). He soon realized that a film like Inception needed a large budget because as he’s stated, “as soon as you’re talking about dreams, the potential of the human mind is infinite. And so the scale of the film has to feel infinite. It has to feel like you could go anywhere by the end of the film. And it has to work on a massive scale.”


Christopher Nolan has stated the Inception was first developed based on the notion of “exploring the idea of people sharing a dream space, entering a dream space and sharing a dream. That gives you the ability to access somebody’s unconscious mind. What would that be used and abused for?” Furthermore, he thought “being able to extract information from somebody’s brain would be the obvious use of that because obviously any other system where it’s computers or physical media, whatever, things that exist outside the mind, they can all be stolen…up until this point, or up until this movie I should say, the idea that you could actually steal something from somebody’s head was impossible. So that, to me, seemed a fascinating abuse or misuse of that kind of technology.”


When writing Inception Nolan drew inspiration from the works of Jorge Luis Borges.


Nolan had thought about these ideas about dreams on and off since he was sixteen years old, intrigued by how he would wake up and then, while falling back into a lighter sleep, hold on to the awareness that he was dreaming, a lucid dream. He also became aware of the feeling that he could study the place and alter the events of the dream. He has been stated as saying, “I tried to work that idea of manipulation and management of a conscious dream being a skill that these people have. Really the script is based on those common, very basic experiences and concepts, and where can those take you? And the only outlandish idea that the film presents, really, is the existence of a technology that allows you to enter and share the same dream as someone else.”


Harvard University dream researcher Deirdre Barrett has stated that regarding dreaming, Nolan has not got every detail accurate, but that films which really do that tend to have illogical, rambling, disjointed plots which wouldn’t make for a great thriller. She said “But he did get many aspects right,” citing one of the first scenes in which a sleeping DiCaprio is shoved into a full bath and water starts gushing into the windows of the building he is dreaming, waking him up. “That’s very much how real stimuli get incorporated, and you very often wake up right after that intrusion.”


Initially, Nolan had written an 80-page treatment about dream-stealers. He had envisioned Inception as a horror film, but eventually wrote it as a heist film even though he found that “traditionally they are very deliberately superficial in emotional terms.” Upon revisiting his script, he decided that basing it in that genre did not work because as he has stated the story, “relies so heavily on the idea of the interior state, the idea of dream and memory. I realized I needed to raise the emotional stakes.”


Nolan worked on the script for nearly ten years.


When he first started thinking about making the film, Nolan was influenced by “that era of movies where you had The Matrix (1999), you had Dark City (1998), you had The Thirteenth Floor (1999) and, to a certain extent, you had Memento (2000), too. They were based in the principles that the world around you might not be real.”


After making The Dark Knight (2008), Nolan decided to make Inception and spent six months completing the script. Nolan states that the key to completing the script was wondering what would happen if several people shared the same dream. “Once you remove the privacy, you’ve created an infinite number of alternative universes in which people can meaningfully interact, with validity, with weight, with dramatic consequences.”


On February 11, 2009, it was announced that Warner Bros. purchased Inception, a spec script written by Nolan.


The first letter of each of the main character’s first names; Dom, Robert, Eames, Arthur/Ariadne, Mal, Saito, all put together spell the word DREAMS.


Principal photography began in Tokyo on June 19, 2009 for the scene where Saito first hires Cobb during a helicopter flight over the city.


The production then moved to England and shot in Cardington, a converted airship hangar north of London. It was there that a long hotel corridor was constructed by production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas, special effects supervisor Chris Corbould, and cinematographer Wally Pfister. This corridor was able to rotate a full 360 degrees to create the effect of alternate directions of gravity for scenes where dream-sector physics become chaotic.



Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Arthur, performed all his own stunts during the fight scene in the spinning hallway.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt spent several weeks learning to fight in a corridor that spun like “a giant hamster wheel”. Nolan said of the device, “It was like some incredible torture device; we thrashed Joseph for weeks, but in the end we looked at the footage, and it looks unlike anything any of us has seen before. The rhythm of it is unique, and when you watch it, even if you know how it was done, it confuses your perceptions. It’s unsettling in a wonderful way”. Gordon-Levitt remembered, “it was six-day weeks of just, like, coming home at night fuckin’ battered…The light fixtures on the ceiling are coming around on the floor, and you have to choose the right time to cross through them, and if you don’t, you’re going to fall.”


On July 15, 2009, filming took place at University College London library for the scene between Cobb and Miles. The signage of the library was changed to read the French for Library, “bibliotheque”.



Filming then moved to France where they shot the pivotal scene between Ariadne and Cobb at a Paris bistro. For the explosion that takes place during this scene, the local authorities would not allow the actual use of explosives. The production used high-pressure nitrogen to create the effect of a series of explosions. Cinematographer, Wally Pfister used six high-speed cameras to capture the sequence from different angles and make sure that they got the shot. The visual effects department enhanced the sequence, adding more destruction and flying debris.




Total Trivia Entries: 77



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