'Inception' Stars Reveal Secrets Behind Epic Van Scene

Cillian Murphy, Ken Watanabe and Dileep Rao describe the scene that took 'months, off and on' to shoot.

"Inception" is one of those movies that's impossible to talk about with people who haven't seen it and desperately want to avoid spoilers. To discuss any given scene in this thriller about the world of dreams — no matter where it takes place in the story, no matter how minor it might seem on the surface — you have to reveal whole swaths of plot secrets.

But the mere fact that we want to talk about "Inception" — however tricky it may be — speaks to just how mind-bending Christopher Nolan's epic really is. Thus, when MTV News hit the red carpet premiere for "Inception" on Tuesday, we had to ask the stars to reveal the secrets behind some of our favorites scenes. Read on for some insight, but turn back now if you want to avoid some meaty spoilers!

First some setup: In "Inception," Leonardo DiCaprio heads a team that can enter another person's dreams and either steal a secret or implant a memory without the person ever knowing. For their big mission, they create a series of three different dream worlds, each existing independently yet connected by a subconscious thread. In each successive dream level, time moves progressively slower, so that what only takes, say, five seconds on level one takes maybe 60 minutes on level three.

Still with us? OK, that brings us to a wicked chase scene on level one. DiCaprio and his team hop in a van as they flee some nameless assassins. As they drive, they descend to the second dream level but continue to exist in the van, so during a few-minute chase sequence, hours and hours pass on dream levels two and three — leading up to a point where the van plunges off a bridge and takes about an hour to hit the water. The van's descent in super-slow motion was a massive undertaking to film, the "Inception" stars told us at the premiere.

"Months, off and on," said Dileep Rao, whose character drives the rest of DiCaprio's team in the van. "We'd shoot it one day, go off and shoot something else. Then shoot another piece of [the van]. It was so complex and there were so many locations and so many different moves I have to do. It's the stuff that makes or breaks that last sequence."

To capture that last sequence of the van falling off the bridge, Rao said, "they shot [the van] out of a cannon."

The shots of the actors suspended within the van in slow motion took a "whole day shooting and seven times to take," co-star Ken Watanabe recalled.

Eventually, the van lands and sinks under water. "The underwater stuff was challenging because the default setting is to panic," Cillian Murphy explained. "And when they ask you to act, it's a bit of an ask."

The actors had to hold their breath for "four or five minutes" as they sucked air from scuba tanks, Murphy said.

But they pulled off the sequences, and trust us when we tell you it is one the coolest things you've ever seen on the big screen.

"[Nolan] was very precise with us, and we nailed it," said Rao. "I think it was awesome."

Check out everything we've got on "Inception."

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