Watanabe’s character is dubbed “The Tourist” because of his lack of knowledge in dream traveling. He gains access in to the top-secret group because of his affluence, funding a final project that –– if successful –– will help co-star Leonard DiCaprio’s character Dom Cobb “The Extractor” finally return home.
The Tourist’s words, “assemble your team, Mr. Cobb,” sets off a perilous journey in to multiple layers of dreams with one mission: inception.
“When Chris called and asked me to join him, it was easy to say yes, because it was a wonderful opportunity to work with a director I loved working with before,” Watanabe said. “And after I read it, I was even more pleased. So my heart and my head told me I definitely had to do this movie.”
Watanabe previously worked with director and writer Christopher Nolan on the film “Batman Begins,” playing one of the superhero’s archrivals, Ra’s al Ghul.
“I wrote the part specifically for Ken because I wanted to work with him again. I enjoyed directing him so much on ‘Batman Begins,’ but his role was smaller and we didn’t have a lot of time together,” said Christopher Nolan, “Inception” writer and director, in a press release.
“This time I made sure he had a bigger part. Ken is an extremely charismatic performer, a true movie star,” he added. “He is a consummate actor who knows how to get the most out of every scene. It’s just a pleasure to watch him work.”
Watanabe’s character first appears in his native Japan, where Cobb’s team of specialists showcases their talents for him. The team attempts to steal a secret from the recesses of Watanabe’s dreams.
“At first, it’s only a business relationship, but as the story continues, Saito and Cobb develop an understanding and a respect,” Watanabe explains. “They need each other.” Each member of the team has a specialized talent.
There is The Architect, The Point Man, The Forger, The Chemist and others. With the addition of The Architect, Ellen Page’s character, the team being an expedition that is threatened by secrets hidden in Cobb’s subconscious.
Watanabe said the anti-gravity scenes, earthquakes, car crashes and gun shootings made him feel real reactions on the set. Producing the film required shooting in six different countries.
The sets and visual effects in the dream sequences of rotating hotel corridors and folding cities required an imagination as big as Nolan’s. Nolan said the foundation of what became “Inception” began with his fascination ten years ago with the “waking life” and “dreaming life.”
But the concept of traveling into dreams and dreams within dreams required detailed explanations by the film’s cast, which also included Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Dileep Rao and Michael Caine, among other award-winning actors.
Movie critics are split about the film, with some like New York magazine’s David Edelstein calling the movie “clunky and confusing on four separate levels of reality.”
Others are hailing “Inception” as a refreshingly unique film. Critic Roger Ebert said it was “wholly original, cut from new cloth.”
Viewers can decide for themselves which camps to join. “Inception” opens in theaters across the country July 16.
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