Christopher Nolan is arguably the most successful director of our era. The kind of movies that he has delivered to his audiences sets him a class apart. For him, a movie is not just a piece of art and entertainment — it’s an experience that he himself delves deep into before presenting it on the screen.
Nolan has been deemed one of the greatest minds in Hollywood by nearly everyone he has worked with as well as the critics worldwide. But being the genius of filmmaking, Christopher Nolan comes with his own set of rather eccentric rules that are strictly followed on the sets of his films. After all, no great thing comes without adversity — and Nolan’s on-set rules might just be the adversities that his film’s cast and crew face to create such great films.
Christopher Nolan Has A Strict No Smartphones Policy On His Sets
Christopher Nolan’s first rule is a tech-free philosophy: yes to smart films, no to smartphones. The director himself doesn’t own a smartphone or an email address. He insists on personal interactions, hand-delivering scripts, and conducting in-person meetings. “I’m easily distractible so I don’t really want to have access to the internet every time when I’m bored,” Nolan told People Magazine in 2020.
The approach also reflects in his films that are famous for using practical effects over CGI. Explaining his philosophy as he sat down with Esquire in 2017, Nolan said, “Phones have become a huge distraction, and people work much better without them. At first, it causes difficulty, but it really allows them to concentrate on what they’re doing.”
Nolan’s second rule is a ban of chairs on his film sets. The director believes that the absence of chairs keeps the cast and crew focused and working efficiently. Anne Hathaway spoke about this this peculiar practice during an interview stating that Nolan “doesn’t allow chairs, and his reasoning is, if you have chairs, people will sit, and if they’re sitting, they’re not working.”
Robert Downey Jr. also spoke about it during ‘Actors on Actors session‘ with Mark Ruffalo. “You kind of feel like you’re being stripped of your armor, which he does intentionally,” Downey said. It does not stop at restriction on chairs, but also extends to restriction on using toilet seats.
In case you missed it: Christopher Nolan Explains Why The Nuclear Explosion Was Silent In ‘Oppenheimer’
Bathroom Breaks Are Between 11 A.M. and 6 P.M. For Nolan’s Cast And Crew
Nolan restricts bathroom breaks on his sets. The director, described as a “conservationist of the highest order” by Robert Downey Jr., allocates specific times for bathroom breaks: 11 A.M. and 6 P.M. Nolan’s strict schedule and disdain for waste contribute to the focused and spartan atmosphere on set.
While these rules might seem extreme, Nolan’s collaborators acknowledge that it is perhaps these rules that set the director apart. Though it has come as a surprise for many actors including Robert Downey Jr. and Anne Hathaway, they later realized the effectiveness of Nolan’s methods.
In The Hollywood Reporter feature on Nolan, Downey said the “focused and spartan” atmosphere of the Oppenheimer set was a “monastic approach to what we’re doing.” Downey also noted that Nolan’s style was ultimately “super loose within this controlled format.”
All in all, actors as well as non-actors who have worked with Christopher Nolan believe that his peculiar on-set demands are rooted in a deep appreciation for the art of filmmaking. For Nolan, the medium is not a disposable piece of content but a pivotal and delicate art form that requires complete focus and dedication. So his rules fit his philosophy and also reflects in his films.
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