At a time when Christopher Nolan is desperately trying to broker a deal with studios, cinema halls and general audiences to release his latest movie Tenet in theaters and actually have people show up to watch it, the blockbuster filmmaker finds himself in the middle of an unexpected controversy when social media started trending the rumor that he does not allow cast and crew to sit in chairs while filming his movies. Now, Nolan's spokesperson Kelly Bush Novak of ID has released a statement categorically denying the claim.

"For the record, the only things banned from [Christopher Nolan's] sets are cell phones (not always successfully) and smoking (very successfully). 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."
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The controversy started when Anne Hathaway, who worked with Christopher Nolan on The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar, revealed during an interview with Variety that the filmmaker bans chairs from the sets of his films.

"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."

It is unclear how much of Hathaway's claim was spoken in jest, but since then, general audiences and 'industry insiders' had jumped into the debate, from claiming that it would be completely illegal for Nolan to enforce such a bizarre rule, to asking crew members of previous Nolan movies to confirm or deny the rumor.

The entire affair rapidly took on the air of a strange, Twilight zone-esque episode, with fans scouring old photos taken on the sets of Interstellar, The Dark Knight, and other Nolan movies, and triumphantly posting the ones which feature members of the cast and crew sitting in chairs or on benches looking thoroughly bored while they wait for shooting to resume.

There were even those who suggested Nolan should be barred from directing for cruel treatment of his actors and crew if the 'no-chairs' rule turned out to be true. Meanwhile, several professionals who have worked on Christopher Nolan's film sets in the past have come forward to confirm that they were indeed allowed to sit down while on set.

Under regular circumstances, such a debate would be considered amusing, but harmless. However, with the filmmaker in the midst of a pitched battle to release Tenet in theaters and for audiences to go see it, any hint of controversy that could turn public opinion against him can be potentially disastrous for Nolan. Hopefully, the statement issued by his team will be enough to make audiences forget about the 'no-chairs' issue. This was first reported at IndieWire.

Neeraj Chand