There’s a moment early in “Inception” (beware mild spoilers) when Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page meet within a Parisian dream world of Page’s creation. Leo is a former architect turned professional dream thief, and he’s trying to convince Page to ditch her architectural studies and become part of his crew.
In the course of their discussion, DiCaprio raises a metaphor about the act of creation: When you’re truly inspired, it’s almost as if you’re not creating so much as discovering something that already exists. Their dialogue exchange, writer/director Christopher Nolan revealed, is actually ripped directly from his experiences penning the script.
“That’s how this felt to me,” he explained to MTV News. “It felt like there’s a world here that I’m just trying to understand and put together for the audience. … You feel like it already exists, and you’re kind of uncovering it.”
Unlike James Cameron in the writing of “Avatar,” Nolan declined to create an “Inception” bible to track his various ideas, characters and plot threads. “I kept thinking about doing that,” he said. “But what happens is, you come up with a rule set, then you’re writing the script, and you need the story to go somewhere else, you don’t want to go back in and change the rule set.”
Because, as Nolan made clear, he would have had to do a ton of revision to that bible over the course of the writing process. “The backstory, the rules of the world, they evolve as the picture of the whole movie evolves,” he said. “You also want to bring actors in and technicians in and really keep the thing fluid until it has to be locked down. So to me, the rules are sort of evolutionary in a film like ’Inception.’ You have to be true to them. There’s no question about that. You can’t cheat with them. But you don’t want to sit down and put one to 10, ’OK, these are the rules.’
“Writing is a strange thing, because sometimes it’s cart before horse,” he added. “Sometimes you know there’s a scene that’s going to happen, but you don’t quite know how you’re going to get there. And that’s one of the things that I really enjoy about writing.”
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