Michael Caine has finally explained that frustrating Inception ending once and for all

Thank you for putting us out of our misery.

inception ending
(Image credit: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock)

Thank you for putting us out of our misery.

For one fleeting moment back in 2010, one film united the entire world in absolute rage: Inception. It wasn’t because it wasn’t a good film - it was a great film. It was more because the ending was one of the most frustrating cliffhangers in history, leaving people wondering if Leonardo DiCaprio ever got his happy ending or was actually a prisoner of his own imagination. Well, one cast member has finally weighed in and cleared things up for us.

During a Film 4 summer screening of Inception, Michael Caine popped his head in and dropped the mic when he clarified the film’s last nail-biting seconds. If you need a little refresher, at the end of the film Dominic Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is finally able to return to his family after successfully completing his mission to incept an idea into businessman Robert Fischer’s mind. As he’s reunited with his family, Michael Caine watches on fondly and the camera pans to a table where Cobb’s spinning top totem - a trinket used to differentiate between the real and dream world - spins and spins and spins.

According to the rules of the universe, if the top falls over then he’s in the real world. If it just keeps on going however, he’s still in the dream world. As the top begins to teeter however, the film cuts to black and we never get to see if it actually fell over or not: meaning we never conclusively know if he’s the real world or trapped in his own mind. It was a real throw-your-drink-at-the-screen moment.

Inception a complicated script to follow at times and even Michael Caine needed clarification while filming, so he went straight to the source for help. He explained an encounter with director Christopher Nolan and said, 'When I got the script of Inception, I was a bit puzzled by it, and I said to him, ‘I don’t understand where the dream is.’’

‘I said, ‘When is it the dream and when is it reality?’’ Michael continued. ‘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.’

And well, Michael Caine is in the final reunion scene between Leo and the kids. Which means that Leo/Cobb makes it back to his family in the real world and that Inception actually had a happy ending.

VALIDATION. Closure has never been so sweet, even if it took us eight years to get an answer.

Megan C. Hills

Megan is a freelance journalist who covers entertainment and all things lifestyle, with a particular passion for fashion, beauty, travel and Keanu Reeves stories. She has previously worked on staff for titles including Marie Claire UK, CNN Style and The Evening Standard and has written for titles such as Bustle UK, Wallpaper*, Forbes and Hong Kong Tatler. She splits her time between London and her hometown Hong Kong, where she currently lives with the love of her life - an elderly dog named Poppy - and her husband.