The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has the future of the summer box office hanging in the balance, with most prognosticators arriving at the same conclusion: if theaters are going to reopen any time soon, it will probably be in mid-July, with Christopher Nolan's highly-anticipated TENET. Whichever movie brings the moviegoing public back to theaters is all but guaranteed to make quite a bit of coin, but that's doubly true of something like TENET, which - in addition to being a new Nolan film, a fact which all but guarantees instant blockbuster status - has been shrouded in secrecy ever since it was announced.
That veil of secrecy and confusion extends beyond the moviegoing public, too: in a wildly entertaining new profile over at GQ, TENET star Robert Pattinson maintains that he doesn't even know how to describe the film (which he also claims not have seen a single frame of). Pressed to offer a synopsis, Pattinson says:
"Even if I had seen it, I genuinely don’t know if I’d be able to… I was just thinking, I just called up my assistant 20 minutes ago: ‘What the fuck do I say? I have no idea.’ ”
And yet, Pattinson gives it a go. Writes GQ:
“This thing, it’s so insane,” he says. He says they had a crew of around 500 people, and 250 of them would all fly together, just hopping planes to different countries. “And in each country there’s, like, an enormous set-piece scene, which is like the climax of a normal movie. In every single country.” He says otherwise jaded and hard-bitten crew members would come in on their days off to watch Nolan’s special effects because they were so crazy. He apologizes for not being able to say more. He just doesn’t really know what to say."
GQ, unsure of whether or not to take Pattinson at face value in regards to his not being able to describe TENET, rings up director Christopher Nolan (side note: Just try to imagine calling Christopher Nolan), who offers the following in response:
“The interesting thing with Rob is, he’s slightly fucking with you. But he’s also being disarmingly honest. It’s sort of both things at once. When you see the film, you’ll understand. Rob’s read on the script was extremely acute. But he also understood the ambiguities of the film and the possibilities that spin off in the mind around the story. And so both things are true. Yes, he’s fucking with you, because he had a complete grasp of the script. But a complete grasp of the script, in the case of Tenet, is one that understands and acknowledges the need for this film to live on in the audience’s mind, and suggest possibilities in the audience’s mind. And he was very much a partner in crime with that.”
Later in the profile, Pattinson confirms that the film features no time travel ("That's, like, the one thing I'm approved to say"), and says that he subconsciously modeled his character - who, in all the available press stills from TENET, looks like a stand-in for Nolan - on Christopher Hitchens, of all people. Much to consider. Much to unpack.
Nolan's take strikes us as probably accurate - there's simply no way Robert Pattinson doesn't actually know how to describe the movie he just made - but it's admittedly fascinating to hear how much trouble Pattinson has completing such a simple task. It's also interesting to hear him confirm that there's no time travel in Nolan's film. The trailers certainly indicate that some amount of time distortion takes place in TENET. Perhaps that's the trick here: no time travel, but maybe some time warping?
We'll find out whenever TENET hits theaters, which may or may not happen on July 17th. Stay tuned.