Variety has been doing all podcast interviews and actor-on-actor Zoom discussions and a lot of the content has been pretty good. One of Variety’s latest is a conversation between Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, who have been friends for many years and are also fans of each other’s work. Much of the conversation is Anne and Hugh blowing smoke up each other’s whatever. Then they get into “difficult directors” or directors who have interesting on-set rules. That’s when the conversation got interesting:
Jackman: You just reminded me: There’s two directors I’ve worked with that don’t allow cellphones on set, Darren Aronofsky and Denis Villeneuve. Both of them had exactly the same reason, which is exactly what you were saying: It’s about intentionality. Both of them talk about the space being sacred. If you’re on a cellphone, it dissipates that energy.
Hathaway: I don’t want to contradict you, but you’ve worked with three directors that don’t allow cellphones: Christopher Nolan.
Jackman: Oh, that’s right.
Hathaway: 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.
Jackman: You dropped Christopher Nolan nicely, well done. Two films, I like that. Can you talk to me about playing Catwoman?
Hathaway: 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.” I’m such a director nerd. I love just seeking out the best directors I can and then just watching them. Chris’ whole approach to filmmaking is one of my favorite ones. 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.
I included that last part because I think it’s notable that Hathaway wasn’t dissing Nolan, she wasn’t complaining (or was she), she’s saying that she admires Nolan and his process and he got her out of her comfort zone and all of that. I can 100% understand why any director would ban cellphones on set. But banning chairs? WTF? Especially with the costumes needed for some of Nolan’s films – why not give actors (and everybody else) a chance to sit for five minutes while the lighting is adjusted or whatever? “His reasoning is, if you have chairs, people will sit, and if they’re sitting, they’re not working…” Plenty of people do their best work while seated.
Photos courtesy of Getty & WENN.