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Why Does Christopher Nolan Hate Chairs?

What did the chair do to you, Christopher?

Batman in the Dark Knight

We know that, on set, actors are often waiting for everything to be reset, working on their lines, or in hair and makeup. There’s basically a lot of time just spent waiting around between takes, but we’ve now learned that Christopher Nolan doesn’t want his cast sitting in chairs during that time, and I have … a lot of questions. Like what did chairs do to Christopher Nolan?

In an Actors on Actors interview with both Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, the Les Misérables stars talked about directors they’ve both worked with. When the topic of Christopher Nolan came up, Hathaway gave away that the director of Tenet doesn’t allow chairs because, in his mind, if you’re sitting, then you’re not working.

Chris also doesn’t allow chairs. 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.

There are quite a few issues with this. First, it means that Nolan clearly only thinks of able-bodied individuals. Second, the idea that you’re not “working” if you’re sitting down while being an actor is frankly confusing. I studied performance theatre, and a lot of the work we’re doing is your own personal journey with the character, so sitting down, to me at least, has little do with that.

All that being said, Hathaway clearly isn’t bashing Nolan. She’s just pointing out a rule he had on his sets. Granted, I think that rule is weird and unnecessary and probably against some kind of rules from SAG, but that’s on them and their god. Still, it has spawned a new joke among fans online: Nolan and his fear of chairs.

Many took to Twitter to make fun of the no chair rule, try to unpack the rule, or just praise Nolan because that’s what we always do. (The Prestige is still my favorite Nolan movie, and I will not budge on this.)

Would you stand up all day long to be in a Christopher Nolan film? Because, while I love Nolan, I do think that eventually, you would just find me sitting down on a log somewhere hoping for the best.

(image: Warner Bros.)

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