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Film

Christopher Nolan on Leonardo DiCaprio: "A creatively demanding actor"

Christopher Nolan and Leonardo DiCaprio are two creative forces at the top of their respective fields, a factor that might lead many to believe that they must have collaborated on various occasions. However, the filmmaker-actor due have only worked together on one memorable project, one that ended up becoming one of the finest films that either party had ever produced.

Leonardo DiCaprio joined Nolan for his 2010 sci-fi thriller Inception, starring as Cobb – a mysterious thief who has mastered the art of stealing valuable information by invading people’s dreams. The character was an expansion of another with the same name from Nolan’s debut film Following, showing that Cobb had existed in Nolan’s mind for a long time and that it was an important role to the filmmaker.

In an interview, Nolan said: “The challenge is striking a balance between allowing the actor going to work on the project to feel in collusion, and like they’ll be genuine creative collaborators. When you go to an actor like Leonardo DiCaprio you have to be extremely respectful of his creative role in things. You have to embrace him as a fully-authorised collaborator.”

Adding, “It was very important to show him a complete script and talk to him over a number of days and fill him in on every aspect of what I was going to do with it. But a guy like Leo is happy to do that within the context of privacy, and he was very gracious about understanding that if he didn’t want to do the movie, he wasn’t going to go around town telling everybody about it.”

Inception is the modern interpretation of the oneiric theory of cinema which believes that films operate like dreams. Nolan explores the fundamental structures of dreams by constructing layers of psychological labyrinths which function as spatial translations of the human consciousness through which the characters must find their way just like the rest of us.

“Leo is, creatively, a very demanding actor,” Nolan revealed in a separate conversation. “When he looks at a script, he needs that character to adhere to the truths of the characterisation. The truth of the person that he’s playing. So we spent months and months meeting a couple times [in a] week for hours at a time, analysing the script and talking through how the emotional truth of the character is guiding the narrative, how those things are reconciled.”

According to Nolan, DiCaprio was very concerned about the final product and kept adding inputs to ensure that the idea for Inception and the coherence of his character were properly executed. Nolan said: “My job was to try and reconcile that input with the mechanism of the story and the way that the story has to flow. It’s incredibly invigorating, incredibly exciting to work with a creative collaborator who is so disciplined and so on it and so demanding of the finished product.”

Watch the interview where Christopher Nolan talks about Leonardo DiCaprio below.