Leonardo DiCaprio is an American actor who plays Dom Cobb, an experienced thief of dreams. DiCaprio was the first actor to be cast in Inception, having stated that he had been looking to work with Christopher Nolan for some time. However, many other prominent actors were considered for the role, including Brad Pitt and Will Smith. DiCaprio encouraged Nolan to refine the script so that Cobb's inner torment over Mal could give audiences a firm emotional anchor, amid the film's complex and heady explorations of dream-sharing technology.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an American actor who plays Arthur, Dom's sidekick and partner in crime who is responsible for the planning and research portions of his job. During filming, Gordon-Levitt performed nearly all of his own stunts. Gordon-Levitt conceived of Arthur as a resourceful, pragmatic "producer" character who helps provide the knowledge and material capabilities for Cobb's missions. Gordon-Levitt went on to collaborate with Christopher Nolan two years later, playing John Blake in The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
Ellen Page is a Canadian actress who plays Ariadne, one of the protagonists of Inception. Ellen Page became famous at a young age after her breakout roles in the independent films Hard Candy (2005) and Juno (2007). Christopher Nolan cast Page for the way she embodied "freshness and savvy and maturity beyond her years." Page is an outspoken queer activist, and in 2016-2017 co-hosted two seasons of a television show on Vice called Gaycation.
Ken Watanabe is a Japanese actor who collaborated with Christopher Nolan once before Inception in Batman Begins (2005). Watanabe was introduced to Western audiences after playing opposite Tom Cruise in Edward Zwick's The Last Samurai (2003). In Inception, he plays Mr. Saito, the wealthy businessman who hires Cobb to infiltrate Robert Fischer's dreams. Watanabe described his embodiment of Saito as being a "cycle" of emotions that reflects the film's circular plot.
Cillian Murphy is an Irish actor who plays Robert Fischer, the scion of his father's large business empire. Murphy was a rock musician before becoming involved in the theater scene in Ireland and England. Murphy's breakout role was in Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later (2002), and before Inception he was also cast as the villain Scarecrow in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins (2005). Murphy has stated that he modeled his rendering of Robert Fischer after the Murdoch family.
Tom Hardy is a British actor who plays the forger Eames. Hardy studied method acting at the Drama Centre London and starred in a string of action films in the 2000s including Black Hawk Down (2001), Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), Bronson (2008), and RocknRolla (2008), before being cast in Inception (2010). Nolan later cast Hardy as the villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Hardy described his wry embodiment of Eames as a mix between an "old Shakespeare lovey" and "someone from Her Majesty's Special Forces."
Marion Cotillard is a French actress who plays Mal Cobb. Cotillard became well-known in the United States after winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in Oliver Dahan's La Vie en Rose (2007). She is the first and only actress to win in that category for a French-language role. Nolan cast Cotillard as Mal, describing the role as the "essence of the femme fatale." Nolan also later cast Cotillard as Miranda Tate in The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
Michael Caine is a veteran British actor who plays Stephen Miles. Christopher Nolan previously worked with Caine on the set of Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008), where Caine played the role of Bruce Wayne's loyal servant Alfred. Caine first rose to fame in the 1960s, playing iconic roles in films like Alfie (1966) and The Italian Job (1969). Nolan also later cast Caine in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Interstellar (2014), bringing their total number of collaborations to 5.
Dileep Rao is an American actor who plays the chemist Yusuf. The year before Inception, Rao played supporting roles in Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell (2009) and James Cameron's Avatar (2009). Rao endeavored to imbue Yusuf with a sense of humor and light-heartedness, lest the audience regard him as merely a "drug dealer." Rao described the role as an "avant-grade pharmacologist."
Lukas Haas is an American actor and musician who plays the dream architect Nash. Haas became famous at a young age for his starring role in the legal thriller Witness (1985), starring Harrison Ford. Haas is also the drummer and pianist in a band called The Rogues.
Inception Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Inception is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.