Christopher Nolan Clarifies Anne Hathaway's Claim He Bans Chairs From Sets

The director doesn't care to sit, but cast and crew members can do so "wherever and whenever they need," his rep says.

UPDATE (June 30): Director Christopher Nolan is clarifying his stance about chairs on sets after Anne Hathaway claimed he “doesn’t allow” cast and crew members to sit down.

On Tuesday, a representative for Nolan issued a statement explaining that while the filmmaker chooses not to use a chair, he does not ban them altogether.

“For the record, the only things banned from [Nolan’s] sets are cell phones (not always successfully) and smoking (very successfully),” a spokesperson told Indiewire. “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.”

PREVIOUSLY: One thing movie theaters in the age of coronavirus and Christopher Nolan’s sets have in common? Nobody will be sitting down anytime soon.

The revered director’s films are famously shrouded in mystery (please let us know if you figure out what “Tenet” is about), but his frequent collaborator Anne Hathaway is now giving fans a bit of insight into his filmmaking process.

The actor, who worked with Nolan on back-to-back films “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Interstellar,” revealed in a Variety’s Actors on Actors chat with Hugh Jackman that in an effort to promote productivity, the director bans chairs on set.

“He doesn’t allow chairs,” Hathaway said, “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.”

Anne Hathaway and director Christopher Nolan promote "Interstellar" in 2014.
Anne Hathaway and director Christopher Nolan promote "Interstellar" in 2014.
VCG via Getty Images

Some fans online were critical of the tactic, describing it as ableist and pushing back against the thinking that sitting down is a sign of laziness. However, it’s unclear how strictly Nolan enforces the policy.

Jackman, who worked with Nolan on the 2006 film “Prestige,” confirmed that the director abides by a no cellphone rule.

Though his approach may seem severe, Hathaway commended his filmmaking style as “one of my favorite ones.”

“I’m such a director nerd. I love just seeking out the best directors I can and then just watching them,” she continued. “He’s broken it down to its most minimal, but also his movies are just so huge and ornate. That combination of really being intentional about what it was that we were doing — and also, he’s just so inspiring.”

As for her experience playing Catwoman in the final film of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Hathaway said, “You know how you have those jobs and you just go, “I don’t know how I’m going to work again because this was such fun.”

The release date for Nolan’s 11th film, “Tenet,” starring Robert Pattinson and John David Washington, was pushed back again last week over coronavirus concerns.

It’s the second delay for the $200 million movie, which has served as a bellwether for how Hollywood rebounds from the pandemic as studios continue to reschedule tentpoles like “Mulan” and “Black Widow.”

“Tenet” is now scheduled to hit theaters Aug. 12 and will “play longer, over an extended play period far beyond the norm,” according to Warner Bros., to try to ensure the film is a success.