Michael Caine Reveals Truth About ‘Inception’ Ending

Michael Caine
Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

Actor Michael Caine is here to give Inception fans closure, eight years after the film was released. Fans were left baffled at the ending,which showed Leonard DiCaprio playing Walter Cobb but Caine himself spinning the famous top. Is he dreaming, or is it reality? Filmmaker Christopher Nolan has remained evasive on the ending, telling audiences to essentially leave it up to their imagination. Caine, who starred in the movie as Professor Stephen Miles, is now coming clean to fans.

He told Esquire at a recent screening in London, “When I got the script of Inception, I was a bit puzzled by it, and I said to [Nolan], ‘I don’t understand where the dream is. I said, ‘When is it the dream and when is it reality?’ He said, ‘Well, when you’re in the scene it’s reality.’ So, get that — if I’m in it, it’s reality. If I’m not in it, it’s a dream.”

Audiences—who were led to believe reality could only be determined by whether DiCaprio’s weighted token would keep spinning or topple according to the plot—were left in the dark when film ended as the token seemed to be losing its balance but still kept spinning until the film blacked out.

Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe
  Shizuo Kambayashi / AP Images

Director and writer Christopher Nolan evaded Princeton University graduates who questioned the ending in 2015, according to People. He vaguely referred to the ending saying that “all levels of reality are valid,” leaving it up to personal interpretation. “I want to make the case to you that our dreams, our virtual realities, these abstractions that we enjoy and surround ourselves with, they are subsets of reality,” he said.

Inception was originally released in 2010. It had an all-star cast including Caine and DiCaprio as well as Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Marion Cotillard. The story is about a thief who steals corporate secrets through the use of dream-sharing technology, and who is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO. It debuted at number 1 in the box office during its opening weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.

The film received some backlash according to the Atlantic, but eventually developed a cult following and continues to be screened periodically throughout the world at outdoor screenings and special screenings.

Caine most recently voiced Lord Redbrick in Sherlock Gnomes, which was released earlier this year. He’ll appear in The King of Thieves out later this year, and Four Kids and It which is currently filming.