Elizabeth Debicki says reading Tenet script for the first time was 'surreal' experience
Like all the Tenet cast, Elizabeth Debicki is tight-lipped about what exactly happens in Christopher Nolan's new film, which also stars John David Washington and Robert Pattinson. But the Great Gatsby and Man From U.N.C.L.E. actress was happy to recall the experience of reading Nolan's screenplay for the first time, when EW chatted with Debicki for our Tenet cover story.
"The process of getting the role was pretty traditional," she said. "I had a cup of tea with Chris, I had several cups of tea, and we had a big chat about everything other than the film. We did speak about cinema but we never actually spoke about the fact that I might be able to read for the part for him. And then, a week or two later, I read the part for Chris and then I got the role very quickly. Then, I went in to Warner Bros.' studio and went into a small room and read the script by myself in the room. That's quite unusual. I thought [the script] was extraordinary. It sort of overwhelmed me, I had to really think while I read it. So there were several cups-of-tea breaks for me. It was very surreal, to be honest with you, to have the script to Nolan’s latest feature just in front of you and you get to start to rifle through it. It does feel like a kind of club, and somehow I got the magical password, and I got to suddenly experience the machinations of Chris Nolan’s mind really, which was fascinating."
In the film, Debicki portrays the wife of Kenneth Branagh's villain.
"Elizabeth is playing a character who’s got herself into a very tricky situation with her estranged husband, who’s a Russian oligarch played by Ken Branagh," said Nolan. "She’s in a very very tough spot and she has to demonstrate an extraordinary amount of strength of character. She’s being manipulated by the people around her, so her relationship with John David, when he comes into the picture, is ambiguous and complicated. We were very fortunate that we were able to get Elizabeth to do this character, because she’s an actress who can work on many different levels at the same time and really put in a lot of different layers into the characterization.
“We’re jumping off from the point of view of an espionage film, but we’re going to a number of different places,” Nolan told EW last year. “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.”
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