Christopher Nolan does *not* ban chairs on his sets, he only bans phones & smoking

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In a recent Variety interview/discussion, Anne Hathaway said some things about working with Christopher Nolan. Anne worked with Nolan on two films, and she claimed that on both of those films, Nolan banned chairs and cellphones from the set. Anne said: “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 have no idea if Anne expected those comments to go viral, but they did and there was a tremendous amount of discussion about it online. It got so bad that Nolan’s rep went to IndieWire to say that Anne Hathaway is made of lies!

Christopher Nolan does not ban chairs from his movie sets, a spokesperson for the director has confirmed to IndieWire. Social media buzz over an alleged chair ban on Nolan’s sets erupted June 29 after Variety published an “Actors on Actors” video interview between Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman in which the former complimented Nolan’s decision not to allow chairs on set. Hathaway has appeared in Nolan’s blockbusters “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Interstellar.”

“For the record, the only things banned from [Christopher Nolan’s] sets are cell phones (not always successfully) and smoking (very successfully),” Nolan’s spokesperson Kelly Bush Novak of ID said in a statement. “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.”

Hathaway’s interview prompted several film critics and journalists to speak out against an alleged “no chairs on set” rule. The backlash prompted acting extras from Nolan’s movies, such as “Mandy” co-writer Aaron Stewart-Ahn, to come forward and say there is no ban against chairs. Stewart-Ahn wrote on Twitter that “we had plenty of chairs and tables in our staging area” on “The Dark Knight Rises.” Journalists Jeff Jensen and Gregory Ellwood also took to social media to say there were plenty of chairs when they visited the comic book movie set. Jensen also visited the “Interstellar” set and said there were chairs.

[From IndieWire]

LOL, I can’t believe this story blew up to this point, where people with any association to Nolan were rushing to defend his chairs’ honor. For what it’s worth, I actually believed Anne – I think when she worked on The Dark Knight Rises, she was probably told not to sit and ruin her costume or whatever, because so many actresses are told that a precondition of them doing their job is “to be as uncomfortable as possible.” And the way Nolan’s rep rushed out… it’s very suspicious. This Chair Conspiracy is a story worthy of a three-hour Nolan movie. The chairs, you see, represent time. A director’s chair is time collapsing in on itself. It all makes sense!

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20 Responses to “Christopher Nolan does *not* ban chairs on his sets, he only bans phones & smoking”

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  1. AppleTartin says:

    Anne with an E! is never wrong!!

    • med says:

      soderbergh discovered nolan (and recently reached out to the director of the Vast of Night), spielberg with colin trevorrow….white dudes looking out for white dudes.

      oh and the ivy bros, that find themselves big hits in HW….damien chazelle.

      female directors cant get SH/T

  2. Athyrmose says:

    I just want to point out that though the backlash seems pretty silly, some of it happened because a chair-ban was perceived by many as being ableist.

    • Rapunzel says:

      Athrymose- not perceived. It is ableist. And, as such, is in violation of ADA regulations. Which are serious. He is an employer, and no employer can do that.

  3. Rapunzel says:

    Um… yeah, I call BS.

    Anne didn’t just say no chairs, she specifically said his belief was “if you’re sitting, you’re not working.” She was basically parroting what he said as excuse for no chairs. She would have worked with him twice and known for sure what his policy is. Plus, she described how no chairs gave his set a different vibe. And Hugh Jackman, who interviewed her, and has also worked with Nolan did not contradict her. That’s very telling because you think if he worked with Nolan and Nolan didn’t ban chairs, he’d tell Anne, “I don’t remember chairs being banned when I worked with him.”

    Nolan bans chairs. It’s possible Anne misspoke and she meant specifically the Canvas actor/actress chairs for cast only. That’s possible. But this is more than her jumping to conclusions after being not tonsit for fear of ruining her costume. The logic behind the ban that she gave proves that. “If you’re sitting, you’re not working” is not something you’d attribute to anyone except someone who banned chairs and gave that as the reason.

    It’s also very unlikely that logic would be employed to just ban the actors ‘ chairs. My guess? Nolan got accidentally exposed by Anne as an ableist jerk. He bans all chairs, she naively brought it up thinking it made him look brilliant, then he realized he was in trouble for not cooperating with ADA guidelines on his set. So now he’s got people conveniently “correcting” things, so he doesn’t get in trouble. He could be fined. ADA compliance is serious.

    • Sigmund says:

      This 100%.

      Anne didn’t just say “he doesn’t allow chairs, who knows why”. She gave a very specific reason, which means Nolan explained it to her. And Hugh Jackman didn’t disagree.

      Sounds like Nolan (or his people) realized how bad this looked at quickly tried to cover it up.

    • Dee Kay says:


    • Mia4s says:

      It actually is about the actors’s chairs according to this crew member:

      Oh and while some are apparently trying to keep “chair gate” going: when folks are on Twitter you might want to search “Bryan Singer” who is allegedly back to his old tricks. (But CHAIRS is what trended. Sigh….)

    • Deering24 says:


  4. Rhys says:

    What is a chair that’s “allocated on the basis of hierarchy not physical need”?

    • Rapunzel says:

      Rhys- sounds to me like a chair that Anne should be pissed she wasn’t high enough in the hierarchy to merit.

      But no matter what kinda chair it is, but his spokesperson saying he doesn’t allocate chairs based on physical need just confirms to me that Nolan is an ass. And stupid too. Admitting he doesn’t provide chairs based on physical need is admitting he is directly violating ADA laws. An employer has to provide a chair for an employee who physically needs it. To not is discrimination against those who physically need it, as they’d be unable to work for you.

      And this just confirms to me that Anne didn’t make a mistake and refer only to canvas chairs for cast. Because the way Nolan is now trying to make it sound like there are some chairs, based on hierarchy… there’s no way Anne would describe that as no chairs, and say “he believes if you’re sitting, you’re not working.”

      Anne is smart enough and experienced enough to know what “no chairs” means and not exaggerate like that.

      Also a guy who thinks it’s okay to defend himself by saying he doesn’t not provide chairs based on physical need, sounds exactly like a man who’d stupidly ban chairs and then backtrack.

      Nolan got caught and is throwing Anne under the bus. If I were her, I’d be pissed.

      • Mia4s says:

        “ his spokesperson saying he doesn’t allocate chairs based on physical need“

        His spokesperson literally did not say that:

        “ The chairs Anne was referring to are the directors chairs clustered around the video monitor, allocated on the basis of hierarchy”

        On some movie sets chairs are set up around the video monitors to watch filming, they are allocated on the basis of hierarchy (actors, producers have first dibs, then down the line if one is available if you want to sit and observe). That’s what Anne was referring to and everyone for some reason wants to put words in her mouth. She was talking to another actor, not a key grip. What the spokesperson is saying is that those chairs have nothing to do with physical need (which they don’t. See my comment above with the crew person tweet).

        This is all so silly and I highly doubt Anne or Nolan care at this point.

      • AMA1977 says:

        His spokesperson didn’t say that he doesn’t allocate chairs based on need; s/he said the opposite: that Nolan doesn’t have the canvas “director’s chairs” clustered around the monitor, which are (typically, on other sets) assigned based on hierarchy, not need. So he doesn’t supply a specific kind of chair (director’s chairs) which are conventionally supplied to the cast based on their level of importance, not on who needs one. “Regular” chairs are available to cast and crew whenever they need to use one, per the statement.

        I don’t see why this is so hard to understand, or why it’s become such a big deal. I usually love this site, but some of the things that posters willfully misunderstand and loudly decry exhaust me. The OUTRAGE!!! That could be alleviated by careful reading.

        Multiple other people who have worked with this director have said that “regular” chairs abound on his sets and that Anne was referring to the specific kind of chair that she, as an actress, would likely be accustomed to having on-set. Multiple people in many different roles have stated, both before and after this “controversy”, that Nolan is professional, respectful, and provides a positive work environment. Save your ire for the abusive, predatory, slimy a$$holes of Hollywood (there are so many) and quit trying to twist a neutral explanation into something sinister.

        TL, DR: Nolan’s mouthpiece said that he doesn’t allow canvas director’s chairs, but that his sets contain plenty of other chairs. Outrage averted.

      • Rapunzel says:

        Mia and Ama- I made have misread the spokesperson on the Canvas chairs, but I stand my belief that Anne meant what she said: no chairs.

        I don’t believe Anne or Hugh are so stupid they wouldn’t properly make the distinction the spokesperson is trying to make now. Anne may be dumb, but Hugh sure ain’t.

        And I don’t believe that Anne would have said Nolan’s justification was “if your sitting, your not working” or described this no chair thing as changing the flow on the set if it was just the chairs in front of the monitor. That justification would make no sense for what the spokesperson described, and what the spokesperson described would not change the flow on the set because people would just be standing instead of sitting in front of the monitor.

        It’s much more likely Anne let slip a secret that got Nolan in trouble and he’s backtracking with the help of menial crew afraid of never working for him again.

        And stop denigrating those who get outraged at ableist behavior. It’s worth getting outraged about. Also, stop using other bad directors for a red herring. We can worry about Nolan’s bull and sexual predators like Singer at the same time, thankyouverymuch. No whataboutism, please.

  5. enike says:

    I call it BS, Anne is a “princess”
    but on the other hand, we know how ruthless directors can be, like Tarantino putting Uma in danger or Aranovsky mentally abusing Jennifer Lawrence on Mother!, or I forgot who telling co-actors to yell sl*t at Winona to make her cry
    so, yeah

    • SM says:

      It was Francis Coppola on Dracula that asked male actors to shout abusive names to Winona. It was Hopkins and Keanu Reeves who refused to do that, which makes me wonder what others did.
      As for Nolan. I could see how he would be unintentionally abusive because he just seems always so tense. Well. His new film is coming up, it looks like the chair conversation will be part of the promo campaign. On the other hand, Anne annoys me, but at this point I feel for her just a little bit, she must be terrified for “throwing one of the most wanted directors” under the bus by disclosing something that clearly was supposed to stay on set.

      • enike says:

        Anne has been so annoying for a long time that even tho abuses on set should be exposed, I cant help to think it was a special chair-ban specially for Anne
        she can be insufferable (but of course I dont know her, its just years of witnessing her attitude throu media)
        so, I guess we will never know and the chair situation is as good a media campaign for a new movie as the others
        (my personal belief is that Anne annoyed everyone on set so she got some “chair-ban”)

      • Deering24 says:

        Nolan has always struck me as a cold fish. Couple that with endless “genius” hype and that’s an insufferable recipe for “take everything too dern seriously.” Why doesn’t he politely correct the record _and_ publically laugh this off?

    • Summer says:


  6. Laurie says:

    Isn’t Anne well-known for being kind of a diva on set though? She’s the kind of actress that expects to be pampered.