Skip to main content

John David Washington on Tenet: “It’s its own genre: it’s the Nolan genre.”

Robert Pattinson and John David Washington in Tenet.
(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Although Christopher Nolan's new movie is set to reach cinemas soon, Tenet remains an enigma. We know Tenet's an "international spy thriller" that someone revolves around "time-inversion" – but that's about it. "It’s obviously genre-bending,” John David Washington, who plays the movie's lead, tells our sister publication Total Film. “It’s its own genre: it’s the Nolan genre.” 

He has a point. While Nolan is cinema’s foremost purveyor of originals, the films do form a genre unto themselves, with expectations of gargantuan set-pieces, mind-blowing ideas, and daring narrative structures.

Describing Tenet, Robert Pattinson makes the analogy of a plate-spinner. “There’s a point where you’re like, it’s kind of cool, and it becomes so insane that it’s almost frightening,” he laughs. “I sound like such a moron talking about this stuff. Because on top of the, uh – how would I even say this? Quite advanced theoretical physics; I think I’m allowed to say that – it’s just got a billion different ways to read it.” He gasps, breathless. “It’s so complicated; if it wasn’t Chris Nolan doing it, you’d be like, ‘This is an impossible movie.’”

Yet, Nolan makes the impossible possible. The director also revealed to Total Film that, for one set piece, he purchased a 747 and crashed the plane into a hangar because "it became apparent that it would actually be more efficient to buy a real plane of the real size". 

Tenet adorns the cover of the new Total Film magazine (here's a pre-order link), which includes extended interviews with Nolan, Pattinson, Washington, Elizabeth Debicki, and Kenneth Branagh. Total Film subscribers will get an exclusive cover featuring John David Washington's protagonist, and the newsstand cover features Washington and Robert Pattinson. Check them out below.

Total Film's Tenet subscribers' cover

(Image credit: Warner Bros/Total Film)

Total Film's Tenet cover

(Image credit: Warner Bros/Total Film)

The issue is available in shops from Friday, and will also be available digitally for your tablet from wherever you get your digital mags. You can start a Total Film subscription beginning with issue 299 (the Tenet issue) by heading to MyFavouriteMagazines.

Tenet is scheduled to open in cinemas on July 17, 2020.