The preface of INCEPTION: The Shooting Script contains an amazing 10-page interview with writer-director Christopher Nolan. Interviewed by his brother, author and screenwriter, Jonathan Nolan, the two delve into the story behind the genesis of the idea for the for film and the decade-long process it took to write it.
Christopher Nolan became fascinated by the idea that the human mind can play tricks with itself. “My interest in dreams came from this notion of realizing that when you dream you create the world that you are perceiving, and I thought that feedback loop was pretty amazing.” Mr. Nolan recalls a time in college where he was enjoying a mid-day siesta. “I remember having a dream and saying to myself, ‘Okay, there’s a bunch of books on the shelf. If I pull a book off the shelf and look at it, can I read the words in the book?’ And I could, because your brain is making up the words in the book.”
Always interested in making a heist film about corporate espionage, Christopher Nolan continued toying with the idea of a film involving dreams. Once he imagined combining the two, Inception started to become a reality.
After I finish every film, I look at what I might do next. I would get the draft of Inception out and would read it, again. I would show it to Emma [Emma Thomas] and sometimes show you [Jonathan Nolan] to get more thoughts on it. But I never knew quite how to finish it until I realized that the antagonist of the film should be the guy’s wife.
It completely unlocked the end of the film. It completely unlocked how you could make something that a wider audience might care about. Because to me, whenever you deal in the world of esoteric or overly complex science fiction, or heist movies, or film noir, you’re working for a smaller audience. If you’re going to do a massive movie, though, you’ve got to be able to unlock that more universal experience for yourself as well as for the audience. That’s what it took for me. As soon as I realized that Mal would be his wife, it became completely relatable.
Having written the entire screenplay himself, Christopher Nolan continues on to discuss self-doubt during the production of the film and his tricks for keeping a level head. The two continue further discussing the challenges and rewards in working with Inception‘s stellar cast on such a grand-scale actioner.
Laced throughout this book (and the script) are inserts of some crazy Inception concept art along with hand-written notes, story outlines, and sketches made by Christopher Nolan during the development phase of this project. If you’ve fallen in love with Christopher Nolan’s (possibly greatest) film like the rest of us, INCEPTION: The Shooting Script is definitely worth checking out.