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|Behind the Scenes|
|“||True inspiration is impossible to fake.||”|
Arthur is Dominick Cobb's right-hand man. Although Cobb is the master planner, Arthur takes care of the details, does the research, and makes sure everything is right. Sharing dreams is not just a job for him; he finds his work fascinating. Arthur notably wields a Glock 17, and on one occasion an FN SCAR-L assault rifle. He is portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. His Totem is a red loaded die.
Gordon-Levitt asserts, “Arthur is the organized one, the one making sure everything is in its right place. The way I see it, Cobb is the artist and Arthur is the producer. He’s the one saying, ‘Okay, you have your vision; now I’m going to figure out how to make all the nuts and bolts work so you can do your thing.’
But as fastidious and professional as he is, Arthur didn’t want to apply his organizational skills to being a lawyer or doctor or any of the things he could have been because sharing dreams is fascinating. It’s not just a job for him. It's possible the technology of dream sharing is something that has inspired him since he first heard about it so, ultimately, it’s not the money he’s doing it for. He wouldn’t risk his life for a good paycheck. He loves it.”
During the events of Inception, Arthur is introduced at a private dinner party with Cobb and Saito, where Cobb is attempt to persuade Saito into giving up his secrets. Though Saito does not reveal any of his secrets, Cobb notices that Saito has subconsciously glanced at a hidden safe before leaving Cobb and Arthur to join the other guests at his party. Arthur quickly realizes that Saito suspects their actual intentions.
As Cobb and Arthur are walking on deck discussing their conversation with Saito, Arthur notices Cobb's projection of Mal, immediately knowing their mission will fail. Cobb leaves Arthur and tries to deal with Mal. By the time Cobb reaches the safe, he is confronted by Saito and Mal; Arthur, who has been caught, is brought into the room by Saito's security guards. Saito reveals that he has realized that he is dreaming and Mal forces Cobb to surrender after she shoots Arthur in the knee. To complete the job, Cobb shoots Arthur. Though Arthur has died in the dream, he awakens in an apartment where he, Cobb, Saito, and the architect Nash are attempting to extract Saito's secrets. However, as Arthur had been the creator of the dream has awakened from, it has begun to collapse for Cobb and Saito.
Arthur quickly attempts to keep Saito from awakening, but realizing that it will not work, orders Nash to wake Cobb. When Cobb does not awaken, Arthur directs Nash to give Cobb the kick, dropping Cobb into a bathtub of water. Though Saito wakes first and tries to subdue Arthur and Nash, Cobb wakes up in time to stop Saito. Saito deems their attempt to extract his secrets to be a failure, remarking that the entire job had been an audition of sorts. As Arthur warns them that they are running out of time, Cobb resorts to physical violence to force Saito into giving up his information and Saito realizes that the apartment they are in is actually a dream. The dream begins to collapse as time runs out on the PASIV device.
As the dream ends, Arthur wakes up in the real world on a train in Japan when the dream ends. A few moments later Cobb and Nash wake up but Saito still remains under. While Arthur packs the PASIV device, he and Nash have a small argument about the carpet in Saito's apartment until Cobb stops them. Soon they get off the train leaving Saito to wake up himself. When Arthur meets up with Cobb to escape Tokyo, they are intercepted by Saito, who reveals that Nash has betrayed them. While Nash is taken away, Saito presents his true objective for audition: he wants Cobb and Arthur to perform the act of inception on Robert Fischer, the son of a dying business rival. Though Arthur believes inception is impossible, Cobb accepts the job despite Arthur's misgivings.
To prepare for the job, Cobb and Arthur head to Paris, where Cobb intends to approach his father-in-law to recruit a new architect while Arthur sets up a warehouse where their team will plan the job. Cobb brings Ariadne to the warehouse, where she experiences her first lucid dream. After the two men explain to her why an architect is necessary for their job, Arthur supervises Ariadne and Cobb as they go under again so Ariadne can try building a dream herself. However, she awakens too early after Cobb's projection of Mal kills her. After Arthur explains to her that death is the only way to awaken before time on the PASIV expires and that she will need a totem to maintain her sense of reality, she leaves in fury over her experience with Cobb's subconscious, though Cobb is convinced she will return.
While Cobb leaves for Mombassa to recruit Eames as the forger for their job, Ariadne returns to the warehouse where Arthur begins to teach her about the mechanics of creating dreams and how she will have the ability to create impossible shapes with architecture, such as the Penrose steps. During the lesson, Arthur remarks to Ariadne that he believes Cobb's ability to build dream is because of Mal. He reveals that Mal has died and that she is only appearing in Cobb's dreams as one of his projections.
After Cobb returns with Eames, Yusuf, and Saito, the team begins planning how to perform an inception on Robert Fischer. After they succeed at isolating Fischer while travelling on a 12-hour flight to Los Angeles, the team execute their plan, which involves three dream layers. In the first dream layer of a city, Arthur steals a cab with Saito and picks up Fischer as Eames hijacks the car as another passenger. When Cobb's subconscious suddenly brings a freight train into the city streets, Fischer's subconscious immediately attacks them. Unprepared for the militarized projections of Fischer's subconscious, the team is forced into a gun fight which ends with Saito being shot. The team proceeds to a warehouse, where Cobb angrily confronts Arthur for failing to learn that Fischer has been trained against extractors. In turn, Arthur is furious to learn that Cobb and Yusuf deliberately refused to reveal that due to the sedatives required for creating three stable dream layers, the dreamers will risk falling into Limbo should they die in the dream rather than waking up.
However, the team reluctantly agree to complete the job as quickly as possible. Arthur and Cobb anonymously interrogate Fischer and present Eames, disguised as Fischer's godfather Peter Browning, as their hostage. After leaving Eames with Fischer for an hour, they force Fischer to give up a random number, 528491. Since the projections are closing in on the warehouse, the team flee in a van with Yusuf driving. As they prepare to enter the second layer of the dream, Cobb decides to employ the Mr. Charles tactic, which Arthur advises against since their previous attempt at it failed. Cobb ignores Arthur's advice and tells Yusuf, who will stay on the first level, to drive safely as the dreams will be more unstable as they go under.
In the second level dreamed by Arthur, he and Ariadne sit in the lobby of a hotel where they observe the other team members. Due to Yusuf's driving in the dream level above and Cobb drawing Fischer's attention to the fact that he is dreaming, Fischer's subconscious begin looking for Arthur as he is the dreamer. To try and draw attention away, Arthur and Ariadne kiss, though the tactic fails and they go to prepare the kick for the second level. In room 491, located directly below room 528 where the dreamers of the third level will be sleeping, Arthur sets charges to detonate when it is time for everyone to awaken. He and Ariadne go to join Cobb and Fischer in room 528 and see that the Mr. Charles tactic has succeeded on Fischer, who believes Cobb is an ally. After the remaining members of the team arrive in the room and enter the third level of the dream, Arthur remains behind to protect them from Fischer's projections and to execute the kick to awaken them.
As Yusuf's driving causes the gravity in Arthur's dream to destabilize, Arthur struggles to fight off the projections attempting to attack the dreamers in room 528. While he succeeds in defeating the projections, Yusuf executes his kick in the first dream level too early and the gravity is removed from Arthur's dream as Yusuf drops the van off a bridge. Arthur is forced to improvise a new kick due to the lack of gravity in his dream by moving the entire team into an elevator and detonating explosives to drive the elevator up the shaft to simulate falling.
Arthur detonates the explosives as the van hits the water in the dream above, and he awakens in the dream level above along with Fischer, Eames, and Ariadne. As the team members escape the van, Arthur notices that Cobb is still sleeping and is forced to abandon him. After he and Ariadne resurface and reach the shore, Ariadne informs him that Cobb remained under to find Saito, who had dropped into limbo with Cobb.
When Arthur awakens on the plane, he realizes that the inception has succeeded and is relieved when Cobb awakens, having not lost himself in Limbo. He and the rest of the team part ways with Cobb at the airport, where Cobb returns to his children at last.
Arthur is the most logical and skeptical individual of the group. As such, he often deals with the details of missions, leaving the grand schemes to the others. His solution to the problem of creating a kick in a zero-gravity environment is evidence of his resourcefulness and knowledge of physics in action.
Because his mind is so organized and stable, Arthur is often used as the dreamer for secondary dream levels. Arthur is very knowledgeable about the technical aspects of the World of the Dream and is readily able to explain it to others in very simple terms. He is also very capable at hand-to-hand combat, defeating several guards in the hallways of the hotel, and experienced with using a variety of firearms.
- Saito: "Inception. Is it possible?"
Arthur: "Of course not."
Saito: "If you can steal an idea from someone's mind, why can't you plant one there instead?"
Arthur: "Okay, here's me planting an idea in your head. I say to you, don't think about elephants. What are you thinking about?"
- Ariadne: "What's happening?"
Arthur: "Cobb's drawing Fischer's attention to the strangeness of the dream, which is making the subconscious look for the dreamer. For me. Quick, give me a kiss."
[She kisses him and then looks around]
Ariadne: "They're still looking at us."
Arthur: "Yeah, it was worth a shot."
- [Ariadne clears throat]
Arthur: "Cobb said you'd be back."
Ariadne: "I tried not to come, but..."
Arthur: "But there's nothing quite like it."
Ariadne: "It's just... pure creation."
- Eames: "Security's going to run you down hard."
Arthur: " And I will lead them on a merry chase."
Eames: "Just be back before the kick."
Arthur: "Go to sleep, Mr. Eames."
- "Can't drop you without gravity." [To Ariadne]
- Arthur: "We have dealt with sub-security before. If we be a little more careful we're gonna be fine!"
- "Eames... I am impressed."
- He was known as The Point Man in some promotional material.
- James Franco was in talks with Christopher Nolan to play Arthur, but was ultimately unavailable due to scheduling conflicts.