Thrilling, disorientating, intelligent and innovative, Inception blow audiences away when it came thundering onto cinema screens over four years ago. But as immaculate and mind-bending as it is to watch, there's plenty more going on under the surface. Here's 20 facts you (probably) didn't know.
Warner Film Group president Jeff Robinov said in an interview that Brad Pitt and Will Smith were both considered for the lead role eventually taken by Leo DiCaprio.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Christopher Nolan explained that he based roles of the Inception team on roles that are used in filmmaking - Cobb is the director, Arthur is the producer, Ariadne is the production designer, Eames is the actor, Saito is the studio, and Fischer is the audience. "In trying to write a team-based creative process, I wrote the one I know," said Nolan.
Miranda Nolan, Christopher Nolan's cousin, appears as this air hostess (top). She also appeared as a maid in Nolan's Dark Knight Rises (bottom, right).
In the first level of the dream (The City), every license plate's state nickname is “The Alternate State”.
Behold! A series of numbers keeps appearing. The number that Fischer gives Cobb is 528491. The two hotel rooms used are rooms 528 and 491, one above the other. The number that Eames gives to Fischer is 528-491. The combination to the strongroom starts with 52, and the combination to the safe is 528-491.
The film only has around 500 visual effect shots, as opposed to most other visual effects epics which can have upwards of 2000. Perhaps most impressive of the non-CGI stunts was the design and creation of an actual barrel-rolling, hamster wheel-esque corridor. Check out this vid, and jump to 1 minute 40.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt spent several weeks learning to fight in that thing! Nolan said: "It was like some incredible torture device; we thrashed Joseph for weeks", while Gordon-Levitt remembered, "it was six-day weeks of just, like, coming home at night battered... The light fixtures on the ceiling are coming around on the floor, and you have to choose the right time to cross through them, and if you don't, you're going to fall."
The role of Saito was written exclusively for Ken Watanabe because Nolan felt that although he appeared in Batman Begins, he did not have the screen time he deserved.
The design of Fischer's snow fortress is based on Geisel Library at the University of California, San Diego, designed by architect William L. Pereira.
Evan Rachel Wood (pictured) was Nolan's first choice to play Ariadne, but she turned it down. The director also considered casting Emily Blunt, Rachel McAdams, Emma Roberts, Jessy Schram, Taylor Swift and Carey Mulligan. The part went, of course, to Ellen Page in the end.
Phonetically, “Cobb” means “dream” (khwab) in Urdu, Sanskrit, Hindi, and Punjabi.
The running time of 2 hours 28 min is a reference to the original length of Édith Piaf's song "Non, je ne regrette rien", which lasts - on its first recorded edition - 2 minutes 28 seconds, and appears in the movie. In fact the oft mimicked "BWOOONG!" sound in the trailer is based on an extremely slowed down version of the fast, high pitched trumpets in that Piaf classic.
James Franco was in talks to play Arthur, but was ultimately unavailable due to scheduling conflicts. Don Johnson was Nolan's first choice for the role of Peter Browning, but he turned it down.
In August, 2009, almost a year before the movie's launch, Warner Bros put the film's official website live. It consisted of nothing more than a spinning top. Those teases!
On 15 December, 2009 they added a game to the website entitled Mind Crime. Players were tasked with creating a maze for other users to play in. As a reward they were given Inception’s first one sheet - pictured.
In early 2010, when Nolan finally broke his silence on the project and spoke with the LA Times, he said that the combined ideas of Ian Fleming, the Wachowski Brothers and Sigmund Freud (pictured) fed into his script.
Cillian Murphy's character was named Robert Fischer as a tribute to champion chess player Bobby Fischer, while Pete Postlethwaite's character, Maurice Fischer, as an homage to artist M.C. Escher (Maurits Cornelis Escher), whose mind bending art, like the one pictured, was an inspiration for parts of the film.
Ellen Page’s hair is worn in a tight, pulled back bun in certain scenes to get around the need to consider how her hair would move in zero gravity.
The working title for the movie was Oliver’s Arrow. Some comic book fans, buoyed by the fact that the Green Arrow’s civilian identity is Oliver Queen, thought Nolan, who had already rebooted DC's Batman franchise, was working on a Green Arrow movie.
Prints of the movie were shipped to cinemas under the name “Hour Glass”.
One of the reasons why Christopher Nolan cast Tom Hardy as Eames was because of his performance in the film RocknRolla. Hardy thought he was cast because of his role in Bronson but when arrived on set he found out Nolan had never even seen Bronson.
20.According to cinematographer Wally Pfister, Warner Brothers approached Nolan about making the film in 3D, but he refused the idea, claiming "it will distract the storytelling experience". The IMAX 65mm format, as used in The Dark Knight was also considered, but it was ruled out because Inception required so many hand-held camera shots.