Some of the most famous directors who ever lived were known for idiosyncrasies that made them difficult to work with. Stanley Kubrick did multiple takes into the night of a single shot. Hitchcock was possessive of his blond female leads. Tobe Hooper, more innocently, just needed a Dr. Pepper during a shoot.
Christopher Nolan is no different, says Anne Hathaway. In an Actors on Actors Les Miserables reunion Zoom chat with Hugh Jackman for Variety, she stated Nolan has certain restrictions on his sets. Other than cellphones, he prohibits one other thing.
Hathaway, who worked with the Tenet filmmaker on The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar, revealed, “Chris also doesn’t allow chairs. I worked with him twice.”
She elaborated, “He doesn’t allow chairs, and his reasoning is, if you have chairs, people will sit, and if they’re sitting, they’re not working.”
“I mean, he has these incredible movies in terms of scope and ambition and technical prowess and emotion,” Hathaway continued, figuring there is something to Nolan’s logic. “It always arrives at the end under schedule and under budget. I think he’s onto something with the chair thing.”
Maybe he gets results but that isn’t garnering much support on Twitter. A day after Hathaway made her comments, Nolan’s “chair thing” trended and led to mild accusations of ableism and speculation of a traumatic childhood involving seats.
Guys you don’t understand, when Christopher Nolan was younger, a chair crashed through his window, frightening him
— Brian Lynch (@BrianLynch) June 29, 2020
“Chairs terrify me, Wally. It’s time my crew shared my dread.”
— Scott Mendelson (@ScottMendelson) June 29, 2020
That time we pranked Christopher Nolan on set pic.twitter.com/tMp7wVAnrd
— Bill Corbett (@BillCorbett) June 29, 2020
Because fuck anyone with a chronic illness or disability. Not that any of us work, apparently… https://t.co/SxbIcoDW6f
— Diary of a Disabled Person. (@WheelsofSteer) June 30, 2020
Before things got more out of control, an official spokesperson for Nolan issued a statement to IndieWire that says Nolan doesn’t really ban chairs. He just refuses them for his own personal use.
Read the statement from rep Kelly Bush Novak:
“For the record, the only things banned from [Christopher Nolan’s] sets are cell phones (not always successfully) and smoking (very successfully),” Nolan’s spokesperson Kelly Bush Novak of ID said in a statement. “The chairs Anne was referring to are the directors chairs clustered around the video monitor, allocated on the basis of hierarchy not physical need. Chris chooses not to use his but has never banned chairs from the set. Cast and crew can sit wherever and whenever they need and frequently do.”
Extras in his films came to Nolan’s defense.
I was an extra in the Dark Knight Rises, one of like 500 Gotham city cops in the Wall St Brawl scene. We had plenty of chairs and tables in our staging area, in an abandoned building an anarchist tried to blow up in 1920, blocks away from Occupy Wall St. https://t.co/nJYPdddvlI
— Aaron Stewart-Ahn (@somebadideas) June 29, 2020
I don’t mean to cause trouble, but… I was on the sets of both “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Interstellar,” and people, I’m telling you, there were chairs. I even sat in a couple.
— Jeff Jensen (@EWDocJensen) June 30, 2020
Cough, I was on set for The Dark Knight…confirmed there were chairs for press…
…and yes it was amazing https://t.co/2aL84FGZRW
— Gregory Ellwood – The Playlist 🎬 (@TheGregoryE) June 30, 2020
So with that fire squelched, the more pressing concern is Tenet’s release getting delayed to August 12th. Let’s hope it can keep that date.