Why Christopher Nolan Doesn’t Allow Any Chairs On Set

Set Image - Interstellar - Christopher Nolan and Matthew McConaughey.<br/>

Christopher Nolan’s reasoning for not allowing chairs on his sets, including Tenet, is simpler than many would expect from the notoriously complex director. After years of big-budgeted cinema, every Nolan fan knows the lengths he’ll go to for his films. Indeed, it seems that with each new release, the Oscar-nominated director ups the ante to some degree, and those who have worked with him have often stated how incredibly focussed he is while at work.

The results seem to prove that Nolan’s approach works, and with anticipation already very high for the upcoming release of Tenet, fans want to know just how big Nolan will go this time around. So far, we’ve learned that he crashed a real airplane for a major action sequence in the film. Of course, this being Nolan, there will certainly be much more to be captivated by when the film eventually does get released. The amount of focus, time, and consideration utilized to get this film, and each Nolan release, off the ground is staggering, and something that often is overlooked.

This being the case, it’s especially satisfying for Nolan fans to gain insight into just what the filmmaker’s process is like, and what it’s like to work for him. In a recent discussion between Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway for Variety's Actors on Actors issue, Hathaway revealed that there are no phones allowed on Nolan’s sets – something quite common with many high profile directors. However, there aren’t any chairs to be found on set, either. The reason? Well, Nolan feels that if there are chairs, people will sit and if people sit, then they aren’t working. As Hathaway explained:

"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."

Production Still: Tenet. John David Washington

While Nolan’s theory does appear to make sense, film sets are notorious for the amount of waiting that occurs, so much so that the phrase “hurry up and wait” is commonly associated with the process. Nolan’s sets would certainly be filled with long days of work, so for those who don’t have the luxury of simply retiring to their trailers, aka actors, having no chairs available would be a challenge. But, as Hathaway states, the fact that Nolan’s films typically arrive under schedule and under budget are two major points of relief for any studio.

Removing the temptation for the cast and crew to put their feet up for a moment or two is very likely a prime contributor to this degree of success. It’s also evident in the actual end product that much time has been put into each and every Nolan production. At present, we still don’t know just how well Tenet will fare in this regard. Judging by the trailers we’ve seen so far, the film is already on firm ground – despite Tenet continuously having to be bumped back as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But if massive, mind-blowing action sequences and fantastic visual feats are the results of a few people not being able to sit during their workday, it’s safe to say that most Nolan fans (as well as studio heads) would find that just fine.

Source: Variety

Key Release Dates

  • Tenet (2020)Release Date: Aug 12, 2020