Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the man we see climbing the tilting hallways in the trailers for Inception. That sequence expands into a much more elaborate ballet in the full length film.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt on Inception
“It was just about the most fun I’ve ever had on a movie set,” Gordon-Levitt said. “It was also, probably, the most pain I’ve ever been in on a movie set, physically. But you know, pain in a good way, like in the way I guess athletes must get when they have to put on their pads and they tape up their ankles and they get a little beat up throughout the day, but that’s just part of slamming yourself into walls and jumping around all day. I was really grateful to the whole stunt team. Tom Struthers, who Chris [Nolan] has worked with before, he and his guys really took me in and taught me a lot and let me do it, because I’ve had the opposite experience, where stunt teams can be a little exclusionary towards actors.”
The sequence has garnered Gordon-Levitt comparisons to Fred Astaire and his famous wall walking dance. “To speak to your Fred Astaire comparison, I get a kick out of that. Talking about there’s this dance sequence in a Fred Astaire movie where it’s a similar effect, and I was thinking about it, and I came up with an analogy. Because Inception does contain a similar technique, it’s sort of how Sesame Street and Star Wars both use Jim Henson puppetry. It’s similar technique, but to very different effect.”
What allows Gordon-Levitt’s character to defy gravity like that are the intricate logistics of the dream world. The actor enjoyed delving into a complicated world. “If you’re doing it right, you spend a lot of time thinking about every scene in every movie you do. I enjoy putting some thought into it before we roll camera. One thing I’ll say is that one of my favorite parts of working for Chris is that as well thought-out as everything was, he leaves room for spontaneity on the day, both from the side of the camera, that he and Wally [Pfister] work together in this very kind of organic way, and as well as from the actors. It’s nice to not feel like you’re just re-enacting a preconceived moment, but there’s room for an organic feeling to develop while the camera is rolling. Even amidst these enormous technical productions, Chris always prioritized making sure that sort of spontaneous and organic feeling could happen at the moment.”