The Christopher Nolan Movie Joseph Gordon-Levitt Said Was “The most pain I’ve ever been in”

The actor went on to collaborate with the director again despite the exhausting experience.

The Christopher Nolan Movie Joseph Gordon-Levitt Said Was "The most pain I've ever been in"


  • Christopher Nolan directed the mind-bending film Inception in 2010.
  • He collaborated with actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Tom Hardy in the film.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt described the filming process as one of his most painful experiences.
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Christopher Nolan is known for his larger-than-life blockbusters and high-concept films. He has a tendency to repeatedly work with certain actors and technicians. Actors like Michael Cain, Tom Hardy, Matt Damon, and Cillian Murphy are some of the few actors who have worked with him multiple times.


Nolan had one of his biggest hits with the sci-fi espionage film Inception. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, the film saw a group of dream thieves, who hatch a plan to plant an idea in someone’s head. One of his frequent collaborators, actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt mentioned that though he had fun, the film was also one of the most painful he had ever been in.

Also read:“I’d be more likely to be a Bond villain”: The Hobbit Star Richard Armitage Debunks James Bond Rumors as 007 Producers Rumored to be Eyeing Christopher Nolan to Helm Franchise


Christopher Nolan Worked On Inception For Ten Years

Christopher Nolan on the sets of Inception
Christopher Nolan on the sets of Inception

By the time Christopher Nolan got to make his dream project’ Inception, he had already directed multiple blockbusters such as Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Prestige. The director had over ten years of directing experience behind him, and the necessary box-office success to attract stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio into the project.

Nolan mentioned that he had worked on the film’s script for over ten years, initially positioning it as a horror film, before changing the genre to resemble a heist film. He said in an interview with Collider,

“I’d been working on the script for some time, really about ten years in the form that you’ve seen it in, where [there’s] this idea of this kind of heist structure. I think really for me, the primary interest in dreams and in making this film is this notion that your mind while you’re asleep you can create an entire world that you’re also experiencing without realizing that you’re doing that.”

Also read:“I saw that 12 times in theatres in IMAX”: Timothée Chalamet Was Obsessed With Christopher Nolan’s $703M Movie That Made Him Weep For Hours

A still from Inception
A still from Inception

He also cited high-concept films such as The Matrix, Dark City, and The Thirteenth Floor as his influences. The film was first pitched to Warner Brothers Studios in 2001 before Nolan decided that he needed more experience to do justice to the script.  

The film was then picked up after The Dark Knight. Inception was a huge commercial success upon release, earning over $839 million at the box office, against a $100 million budget.

Also read:“You’d have a hard time picking him out”: Even the Formidable Morgan Freeman Was Impressed By Christopher Nolan’s “Quiet Authority” After Working on 3 Films Together


Joseph Gordon-Levitt Felt The Most Pain While Shooting For Inception

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the infamous Hotel sequence
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the infamous Hotel sequence

Christopher Nolan’s Inception had an ensemble cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio and featured actors such as Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Gordon-Levitt plays Arthur, an extractor who closely collaborates with DiCaprio’s Dom Cobb.

One of Gordon-Levitt’s highlights in the film is his zero-gravity fight sequence in a hotel. The sequence was shot on a revolving stage and the actor reportedly performed all the stunts by himself. He described the sequence as the most fun he had ever had, while also being the most painful experience. He said to Collider,

“It was just about the most fun I’ve ever had on a movie set. It was also, probably, the most pain I’ve ever been in on a movie set, physically, but you know, pain in a good way…I was really grateful to the whole stunt team — Tom Struthers, who Chris has worked with before, and he and his guys really took me in and taught me a lot and let me do it, because I’ve had the opposite experience, where stunt teams can be a little demeaning– not demeaning, but, exclusionary towards actors.”

Christopher Nolan mentioned that Gordon-Levitt refused to use the stunt performer, whom the team had arranged and only agreed to let him be used in one shot. The sequence is still regarded as one of the highlights of the blockbuster film. The actor-director duo went on to collaborate again on The Dark Knight Rises.


Also read:“Chris is already halfway there”: Morgan Freeman Revealed Why He Believes James Bond Isn’t Too Impossible a Dream For Oppenheimer Director Christopher Nolan



Written by Nishanth A

Articles Published: 964

Nishanth A is a Media, English and Psychology graduate from Bangalore. He is an avid DC fanboy and loves the films of Christopher Nolan. He has published over 400 articles on FandomWire. When he's not fixating on the entire filmography of a director, he tries to write and direct films.