Few contemporary filmmakers inspire lore like Christopher Nolan, whose pre-Oscars press run for Oppenheimer has spawned tales of disgruntled Peloton instructors and therapy-mediated marriage negotiations. And while the most infamous story about the director’s finicky nature—the one about him supposedly banning chairs from his sets, because he can’t stand actors sitting down—has since been proven false, there’s one thing he does hate, and that’s actors reporting to work in snuggly, shearling-lined booties.
During an appearance on The Late Show on Wednesday, Nolan fielded Stephen Colbert’s inquiries about his oft-contested persona, and confirmed a prevailing (and frankly, Barbenheimer-coded) narrative: that Nolan does, in fact, disapprove of actors wearing Uggs on set.
“Ah, the Uggs controversy,” Nolan told Colbert, knowingly. “I try to minimize distractions,” he explained. “Even though we’re all engaged in this absurd process where this wall is real, but there’s lights and a guy with a microphone, you’re asking the actor to focus in on the reality. So everything you can do—like wearing the correct shoes, or, whatever, not changing your trousers… Anything we can do to keep that reality, that bubble, intact.” (Is this why we didn’t see Adam Sandler or Pete Davidson make a cameo in the fictionalized Stanford metaphysics lab?)
Last summer, Oppenheimer star Emily Blunt let slip about the filmmaker’s distaste for the perennially popular shearling steppers.
“I’ve never known anyone to detest a pair of Uggs more than Chris Nolan,” Blunt told USA Today in July. “It’s a testament to how he wants everything on set to look as it would [in the period]. If there’s a plastic bottle in the shot, he’s like, ‘Ugh!’ He hates to even look at it. I would sometimes put on some Uggs and I’d just get this withering look down to my feet—it was like being in The Devil Wears Prada again.”
Nolan went on The View not long after to share his side of the story, where he admitted that Blunt arriving to set in Uggs “used to drive me crazy.”
“For people who have been on a set, people know how it works,” he said. “We’re there, losing the light, ‘Okay, we need the actors to come in,’ and sometimes they’ll come straight from wardrobe. But they’ll have these big coats on top, and they’ll be wearing these big Ugg boots, because the shoes of the character are uncomfortable. You know, 1940s shoes.” (For what it’s worth, the real J. Robert Oppenheimer would’ve looked sickening in some platform Classic Minis.)
Blunt, he added, got so tired of him asking her to change shoes that “she thought I should join the cult of Ugg boots”—so she gifted him a pair of Ugg slippers after filming wrapped.
Prompted by Colbert, however, Nolan permitted that this bubble technically only pertains to the actors.
“So the crew can have warm feet?” Colbert asked.
“The crew can have warm feet, yes,” Nolan replied, though one would certainly be forgiven for assuming he’d prefer otherwise.
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