When there’s a lot of heavy shit going on in the world, it’s sometimes nice to displace some of the frustration and anger that comes from that and put it toward something much more trivial—something that truly does not matter and really should not matter to pretty much anyone. This, however, is not one of those times. This is a big deal, and it totally makes sense why this particular issue has divided the film community. We’re talking, naturally, about Anne Hathaway’s recent comment in an “Actors On Actors” video for Variety about how Christopher Nolan doesn’t allow anyone to sit on chairs while on set. She explained that Nolan’s belief is that people will sit and not work if they have chairs, which is basically the Hollywood equivalent of the old “time to lean, time to clean” rule in food service. Maybe for Nolan it’s “time to chair, you’re being unfair.”
People on Twitter began to decry the supposed “no chairs” rule as ableist, with writer Matt Zoller Seitz noting that, “if” Nolan does have a rule like this, he “should be sued to the end of the known universe and back”—with the “if” being the key part, because the story “feels incomplete.” The idea that this can’t possibly be true quickly became the prevailing thought, with IndieWire noting that people who have been in Nolan movies or on the set of Nolan have definitely seen chairs, and A.V. Club contributor Ignatiy Vishnevetsky even found photos of people on Nolan sets sitting in chairs.
Now, because this story hasn’t gone away, a spokesperson for Nolan has been forced to clarify the director’s controversial chair policy (via IndieWire). Apparently, he has no problem with chairs and does not ban them from his set, he simply chooses not to use one himself. On top of that, according to the spokesperson’s statement, “Cast and crew can sit wherever and whenever they need and frequently do.” One could argue that the specific reference to Nolan not using a chair could be one of those hardcore manager moves to trick people into working harder, like it’ll make you look bad if you take a break and sit down while your boss refuses to, but who knows if that’s what’s really happening here.
Either way, the spokesperson notes that the only things Nolan has actually banned from his sets are cell phones (“not successfully”) and smoking (“very successfully”). It’s like the old sayings: Time to cell phone, just go home. Time to smoke, your work is a joke. (Feel free to use those, Christopher Nolan.)