Even John David Washington Reveals He Can't Totally Explain Tenet

John David Washington as The Protagonist in Tenet (2020)

If you’ve seen Tenet, there’s a good chance that you walked out of the film with more than a few questions on your mind. No one would blame you if you admitted being a bit confused by the film, as even the film’s cast had to figure out a few of the story details while shooting it. Lead actor John David Washington once admitted to needed clarification on the plot while working with Christopher Nolan on the set, and it sounds like the actor is still pondering things after its theatrical release.

Despite having starred in it, John David Washington had no problem saying that he’s still learning more about Tenet as he continues to rewatch it. With so much to consider, the actor explained that his character has helped to serve as an entry point into understanding the film as a whole:

I’m still learning, to be honest. Temporal pincer movements, points of entropy—every time I see it I get a better understanding of what Chris did as a whole. My grounded understanding of it came from the character, the Protagonist. That's how I was able to understand at least what I was doing with my role in the script. And honestly, too, some of the training that we were doing really helped me gain better understanding of the concept as well.

Many film buffs are sure to relate to Washington’s comments to GQ. His character, known simply as The Protagonist, is definitely the viewer’s eyes and ears in the complex story. It’s also interesting that Washington mentions the physical aspects of the role helping him to understand the story as well. Though this does make sense given that the physical elements could’ve helped to better acquaint him with the more nuanced concepts like time inversion.

Christopher Nolan is known for crafting complex and complicated movies. The director even joked to his editor that Tenet would be the hardest movie anyone has ever cut. In most cases, both Nolan’s collaborators and audiences are still able to decipher his methods, though. However, this has become somewhat of contention for Tenet, as some critics have argued that the film is too confusing at times.

During production, John David Washington wasn’t the only one who needed clarification when it came to some of the story’s finer points. Even Robert Pattinson had the wrong idea about an aspect of his character while working on the film. Nevertheless, everyone seemed to have enjoyed their time on set. Washington even stated that he had “one of the greatest days of his career” while shooting.

Many of us may never completely understand the concepts Christopher Nolan presents us with in Tenet, but it may help to take a page out of John David Washington’s book and rewatch it. And with any luck, our heads hopefully won’t be spinning quite as much.

Tenet is currently playing in theaters.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.