Christopher Nolan's latest film is being released July 31.

Writer-director Christopher Nolan premiered the prologue of his top secret new film Tenet (out July 31) back in December when the sequence played before IMAX screenings of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The footage found John David Washington's character, the opaquely named "Protagonist," rescuing a member of the audience at a packed opera house which had also been infiltrated by terrorists. Seeing the footage was an impressive experience — as was shooting it, according to Washington, whose previous credits include the HBO show Ballers and Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman.

"I couldn’t get over the scale of it all, how many background artists we had," Washington said, when EW called to talk to him for our Tenet cover story. "Those are not digitally enhanced people, those weren't painted in, they were all there and present. And they were so game, they were so enthusiastic to be in a Chris Nolan film, as I was excited to be in a Chris Nolan film running for my life. It was extremely intense, so many moving pieces. Nolan on set, he just works at such pace and is so well organized. I mean, it was chaos when he yelled 'Action!' but getting it done, it felt very organized."

Washington also revealed that working on Tenet helped him overcome his vertigo.

"I loved every day of it," the actor said of the lengthy shoot. "The only thing that probably was tough for me were the heights at first but I ended up getting over that, in India. And that became a great accomplishment for me, because I’m not too comfortable with heights and I became better acquainted with heights after that experience. And then there’s a scene — you can see it in the trailer — he looks like he’s really been beat up. That was a hard day too. That wasn’t one of the more enjoyable days, I’ll put it like that."

“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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