It’s been 10 years – yes, TEN! – since Christopher Nolan’s Inception hit theaters. A whole decade since our minds were blown and the concept of being “incepted” has become part of our pop culture lexicon. Ten years that we’ve been trying to explain the ambiguous ending to our own personal satisfaction. Don’t look to Nolan for help there, either. The cerebral director has been asked about the ending many times over the years and has maintained that it simply means reality is subjective and perceived reality to an individual is whatever scene they happen to be in at the time.

Nolan is famously known for being one of the most technically sound and inventive filmmakers working today. He regularly pushes the boundaries of what’s possible visually with practical effects, blending CGI when necessary. Like the Wachowskis, his movies are known for being philosophical and intellectual, with layers to peel back and pieces to unlock, puzzles unto themselves. Out of all his movies, Inception remains the one that still has the capacity to surprise and astonish, the twists and turns till as air-tight now as they were ten years ago. In honor of Inception‘s 10th anniversary, here are ten fun facts and bits of trivia about Nolan’s most inventive film to date.


1. The Characters Are Based On A Movie Production Setup

Christopher Nolan has explained that he borrowed from what he knew and based the team on similar roles 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.

2. It Uses One Quarter The CGI Effects Of A Standard Blockbuster

Despite the complicated visuals of the movie, Nolan tried to shoot most of the pieces practically, like the Penrose steps scene or the floating hallway fight scene. A standard visual-effects heavy blockbuster has upwards of two thousand CGI visual effects; Inception only has about 500.

3. Joseph Gordon-Levitt Timed His Hallway Fight To Music

Speaking of that spinning hallway fight scene, Joseph Gordon-Levitt performed all his own stunts save one. He spent two weeks perfecting the sequence and practicing wirework, timing all of his moves to sync up with the music that was playing. They’d first rehearse the scene with no rotation of the room, then rotate it a little in the second rehearsal, and then finally work up to it spinning at full speed for the actual shoot.

4. The Characters’ Names Are An Acronym

The first letters of the main characters’ names spell “DREAMS”: Dom, Robert, Eames, Arthur, Mal and Saito. If you add in Peter, Ariadne, and Yusuf, they spell “DREAMS PAY.” Pretty literal, Nolan.

5. Kate Winslet & Leonardo DiCaprio Were Almost Reunited

Kate Winslet was approached for the role of Mal but turned it down as she said she couldn’t see herself playing that character.

6. There Are Musical Easter Eggs Within Musical Easter Eggs

Édith Piaf’s song “Non, je ne regrette rien” is used as a plot device throughout the movie. Ever the Easter egg lover, Nolan timed the movie’s run time (two hours, twenty-eight minutes) as a reference to Piaf’s song, the first recording of which is two minutes, twenty-eight seconds.

7. It’s A Rare Completely Original Film From Nolan

Inception was Nolan’s first movie since his feature debut, Following (1998) to be completely original.

8. Numerology Plays A Big Role In The Movie

The number that Fischer gives Cobb/Arthur is 528491, and it keeps reappearing in various ways throughout the movie: The two hotel rooms used are rooms 528 and 491, the number that Eames (as a woman) gives to Fischer is 528-491, the combination to the strongroom starts with 52, and the combination to the safe is 528-491. Mathematically, the number 528491 is a prime number.

9. All The Characters’ Names Have Multiple Deep Meanings

All the character’s names have deep meaning, but the most interesting is Robert Fischer, who was named for chess champion Bobby Fischer. It’s a nod to the fact that entering Robert’s mind is a game of chess, with Fischer predicting and countering the team’s moves in their subconscious fight.

10. Leo DiCaprio Makes A Reference To One Of His Own Movies

DiCaprio makes a reference to one of his own films in the movie. When Cobb and Miles are first shown together, Cobb says, “Extradition between France and the United States is a bureaucratic nightmare,” a cheeky nod to 2002’s Catch Me If You Can, where DiCaprio’s character is arrested in France and extradited to the U.S.

There you have it. What are some of your favorite facts about Inception?

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