Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

“So, what can I not tell you about my movie?”

That’s writer-director Christopher Nolan warming up to talk publicly for the very first time about his up-to-now supersecret new film Tenet. The movie, out July 17, stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Kenneth Branagh, and has been officially, if somewhat unrevealingly, described as “an action epic evolving from the world of international espionage.”

“We’re jumping off from the point of view of an espionage film, but we’re going to a number of different places,” explains the director of the blockbusters Inception, Interstellar, Dunkirk, and the Christian Bale-starring Batman trilogy. “We’re crossing a few different genres in a hopefully exciting and fresh way. [Producer] Emma [Thomas] and I have put together a lot of large-scale productions, but this is certainly the biggest in terms of international reach. We shot in seven countries, all over the place, with a massive cast and huge set pieces. There’s no question, it’s the most ambitious film we’ve made.”

The director also reveals that Washington is “very much the hero” of Tenet. “He’s a massively talented actor and physically gifted,” Nolan says of the BlacKkKlansman star, who is a former professional football player. “He’s an athlete and pretty hard for anybody to keep up with, including the different vehicles we shot him from — cars and helicopters. [Laughs] This guy moves.”

Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Bros.

Speaking of vehicles, Washington recalls the difficulty of looking at ease while shooting a boat-set sequence with Debicki. “I was terrified, but when Christopher Nolan yelled ‘Action!’ I had to throw all that away and make it look cool,” says the actor. Why was he terrified? “Because it’s a boat, man!” Washington adds with a laugh. “I don’t know how to drive a boat! But I had to act like I did.”

See exclusive first look images from Tenet above.

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