Case File Three: On Location
In June, two things happened.
First, we discovered that filming had commenced in Tokyo. Working under the title Oliver’s Arrow, Inception’s shoot was plagued by photographers attempting to catch a glimpse of DiCaprio, Watanabe and Gordon-Levitt as they went about their business.
Dark Knight story writer David Goyer confirmed “they just started shooting” while attempting to field Batman 3 chatter. “You know, talk to [Nolan] after he finishes Inception, which he’s shooting right now.”
Filming continued around University College London, where the Wilkins building’s library was transformed into Paris’s national library, the bibliotheque of the 'Ecole de Architecture'.
Later, a scene being shot in the Flaxman Gallery saw Caine’s character introducing DiCaprio and Page’s characters. As the trades surmised that Page was actually DiCaprio’s sidekick as well as a young graduate, an on-set spy said:
“Michael Caine looked like he was playing a similar character to the one he always plays lately, Ellen Page looked like a plucky young student, and Leo di Caprio just looked moody and ‘focussed’ (toying with the toothpick-in-between-the-teeth look).”
As details began to slip through the cracks, we also learnt that Gordon-Levitt and Hardy were playing Arthur and Eames, working associates of DiCaprio’s nameless CEO. Page earned her name ‘Ariadne’, and Watanabe’s Saito was revealed as the film’s central villain.
What was the second thing that happened? Well, news of the film’s budget. Those who had assumed that Nolan’s post-DK film would have a comparatively small amount of money to work with were about to get a very wet slap in the face.
Inception’s budget was touted as being between $150-$200m.
Um, yeah. There goes our small-budget thriller theory. Just what was Nolan playing at? The Dark Knight’s budget was an estimated $185m, and that film was heee-uuuge. Now, Inception was rumoured to have a similar – if not, bigger – cash cow.
As if validating the reports, Nolan bolstered a massive action sequence in downtown Los Angeles on 21 September, 2009.
It was a Saturday, but that didn’t stop four blocks of the area being transformed into one giant movie set, as a scene involving a train barrelling down a busy street was staged.
A permit announced in fine print that the filming would involve a “simulated car crash with train, breaking glass, simulated bullet effects on body and things, atmospheric smoke effects, weapons brandished . . . near hits & misses”.
A full report can be read here. Yeah, it sounds pretty epic to us, too.
Read our Inception review.