Christopher Nolan found himself at the center of an unexpected social media controversy last summer after a report surfaced claiming the “Inception” and “Tenet” filmmaker bans chairs from his sets. The news ignited outrage from several film critics, with many condemning the rule as ableist. The report was shut down by Nolan’s representative, but now comes word directly from Zack Snyder that he banned chairs from the set of his Netflix zombie epic “Army of the Dead.”
Appearing on The Playlist’s “Fourth Wall” podcast, Snyder shared the following while discussing how he pulled off directing the movie and serving as its cinematographer and camera operator: “There’s no sitting down, like, I banned chairs from the set. But the nice thing is, it’s really intimate. I can just talk to the actors right there, I’m not back in a monitor across the room. It was definitely the most purely engaged I’ve been making a movie.”
Snyder not only directed and co-wrote “Army of the Dead,” but he also served as the film’s cinematographer. The movie stars Dave Bautista and more as a group of mercenaries hired to carry out a heist on a Las Vegas casino during a zombie outbreak. The supporting cast includes Theo Rossi, Tig Notaro, Garret Dillahunt, Raúl Castillo, Omari Hardwick, Hiroyuki Sanada, Matthias Schweighöfer, Ella Purnell, and Ana de la Reguera.
The Christopher Nolan chair ban originated after Anne Hathaway appeared in a Variety interview and said that Nolan does not allow chairs on set. The actress added, “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.” Nolan’s “Dunkirk” actors Mark Rylance and Barry Keoghan also brought up Nolan’s chair ban in a 2017 interview with The Independent.
Nolan’s spokesperson, Kelly Bush Novak of ID publicity, sent a statement to IndieWire refuting the rumor: “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.”
Snyder’s “Army of the Dead” is now playing in theaters. The film begins streaming May 21 on Netflix.