Tenet: Why One Major Actor Almost Slipped Past Christopher Nolan

In addition to delivering audiences visually ambitious endeavors, Christopher Nolan is also known for enlisting impressive talent to build ensembles of both established and emerging talent, with the filmmaker nearly passing on casting Elizabeth Debicki for a role in Tenet because he was casting a British character and her American accent was so convincing in Widows that the Australian actress was initially dismissed for the role. After realizing she wasn't American, it was through watching her work in projects like The Great Gatsby and The Night Manager that convinced him that she could more than handle the role of the mysterious character.

“I was looking for a very, very British characterization, an English Rose kind of character,” Nolan revealed to Variety, with wife and producing partner Emma Thomas letting him know she wasn't American. “Elizabeth’s one of these great actors who, when they’re brought to your attention, you realize you’ve seen them in a lot of things but not realized it’s the same person."

He added, "For somebody as striking and interesting to look at as she is, the idea she has a chameleon-like ability speaks volumes to her skills as an actor.”

Nolan was so confident that Debicki could pull off what was necessary that he wasn't intending to audition her, but she voluntarily went through the process.

"There’s a certain level of actor who, as a director, you don’t necessarily want to ask them. But she wanted to," the director confessed. "I think it was important to her to know that she could do what I was looking for. And she came in and just blew everybody away. In my mind, she was only confirming what I already knew. What she did with it is far beyond my hopes even.”

Little is known about the plot of Tenet, which means very little is known about the character Debicki plays. We do know, however, that her character is the estranged wife of Kenneth Branagh's character, with Nolan at least admitting the complexities of the character.

“It’s a very difficult character because she has to be extremely vulnerable and put upon, and yet there has to be this strength, this depth, these reserves that come forward,” the filmmaker confessed. “I think that’s very difficult for an actor to pull off without resorting to the unrealistic or resting on the simplistic version of the character arc. She finds a way to play vulnerability and strength at the same time, which is very human and very real.”

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Currently, Tenet is set to hit theaters on August 12th, but with the coronavirus pandemic already seeing the film be delayed twice, it's unclear when it will ultimately land in theaters.

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