Christopher Nolan is one of the most celebrated cinematic auteurs of today, and fans love the unique visual stories that he's able to realize onscreen. However, while Nolan's visual tricks are well-known (like his mind-bending edits, thunderous soundtracks, and big-twist storylines), his methods behind-the-scenes are much more clandestine. Well, Academy Award-winning actress Anne Hathaway has worked with Nolan on two films (The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar), and she recently 'spilled the tea' on at least one unique trick that Chris Nolan uses during his productions: not allowing chairs on set.
Here's what Hathaway had to say to her Les Míserables co-star Hugh Jackman about the method behind Nolan's 'No-Chair' policy, during Variety's, "Actors on Actors" issue:
"I don’t want to contradict you," Hathaway said during a discussion of cellphone bans on some sets. "But you’ve worked with three directors that don’t allow cellphones: Christopher Nolan."
"Oh, that’s right," Jackman recalls. (He starred opposite Christian Bale in Nolan's 2006 film The Prestige.)
"Chris also doesn’t allow chairs," Hathaway continued. "I worked with him twice. 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."
It's somehow not surprising to hear that Christopher Nolan operates in this way. We've all had that teacher or boss who had some uniquely stringent way of keeping people motivated, whether it was controlling climate (cold keeps you focused), or tightly monitoring work shifts and breaks. Moreover, if you've ever been on a film set, you know just what kind of bad habits those chairs actually engender. There are plenty of stories of stars, their entourage, agents, etc., lounging around sets, heads in their phones, or eating, etc.; all behaviors that drive directors and set crews crazy during takes. A 'No Chairs' policy actually keeps the shoot regulated in a weird way, as only people with active purpose will be motivated to hang around all day, while others have to go back to their trailers or lounge areas to get some relaxation and/or rest. j0comments
On the other hand... it also may explain why a lot of Nolan's stars look like they are going through almost robotic paces when playing out scenes and sequences in Nolan films. It's clear that kind of regimented tone is exactly what Nolan goes for in his filmmaking process.
Christopher Nolan's next film release will be Tenet, which is (tentatively) scheduled for release on August 12th.