'Inception' keeps twosome in mind

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Ken Watanabe and Tom Hardy are boarding Christopher Nolan's "Inception" for Warner Bros.

The story, which Nolan wrote, is a contemporary sci-fi actioner set within the architecture of the mind, with Leonardo DiCaprio as a CEO type. Watanabe will play the film's villain, a man who is blackmailing DiCaprio. Hardy is a member of DiCaprio's team.

The duo join a cast that includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page and Marion Cotillard.

Watanabe's deal reunites him with Nolan, with whom he collaborated on 2005's "Batman Begins."

Nolan and the studio are aiming for a summer shoot ahead of a 2010 release. Nolan and Emma Thomas are producing through their Warners-based Syncopy Films shingle.

Watanabe next appears in the Weinstein Co.'s September release "Shanghai" with John Cusack, Chow Yun-Fat and Gong Li. He is repped by Endeavor and ROAR.

Hardy, who is in negotiations for his role, next appears in "Bronson," playing a criminal who spent 30 years in solitary confinement. He is repped by CAA. (partialdiff)
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