If you could break down the alchemy of a Christopher Nolan film and box it up, then Hollywood studios would pay good money to have it in their control. The filmmaker is one of the only directors working today that is able to actually land massive budgets for films based on original ideas and then release them to an adoring public that secures him box office profit. In an industry obsessed with remakes, superheroes, and franchises, Nolan is an anomaly. Maybe it has something to do with his hatred of chairs?
While speaking to Hugh Jackman in a “Les Miserables” reunion Zoom chat (via Variety), actress Anne Hathaway, who worked with Christopher Nolan on “Interstellar” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” explained some of the peculiar rules that she encountered while on the filmmaker’s sets.
After saying that Nolan already doesn’t allow cellphones to be used on set, the actress also talked about some of the filmmaker’s other rules.
“Chris also doesn’t allow chairs. I worked with him twice,” Hathaway explained. “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. It always arrives at the end under schedule and under budget. I think he’s onto something with the chair thing.”
For those that have worked in the service industry, particularly for a fast-food restaurant, you’ve likely heard the mantra, “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” It appears that sort of work ethic applies to Nolan films and A-list actors that are normally treated like royalty. And honestly, though it sounds a bit kooky, the results speak for themselves. McDonald’s can make billions of burgers equalling billions of dollars and Nolan can make big-budget action films that earn hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office.
So, if you’re an indie filmmaker that is hoping to break into the studio film game, ditch the chairs. Those are for the weak.
Update: Reps for Christopher Nolan has clarified Hathaway’s claim, their statement below. You can read more about the story here.
“For the record, the only things banned from [Christopher Nolan’s] sets are cell phones (not always successfully) and smoking (very successfully). 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.”