Christopher Nolan Is Pretty Funny, Actually

Though you wouldn’t know it from ‘Oppenheimer’
Christopher Nolan Is Pretty Funny, Actually

Because America loves lengthy historical biopics (as long as they’re peppered with giant explosions, nudity and Matt Damon yelling until his face looks like the Kool-Aid Man), Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster hit Oppenheimer is now the frontrunner to win Best Picture at this year’s Oscars. And Nolan himself may take home the Best Director trophy, barring some sort of upset and/or Bradley Cooper mugging the winner in the parking lot of the Dolby Theatre.

There seems to be a general cultural sense that Nolan is cinema’s biggest self-serious stick in the mud; a humorless Brit whose personality is about as exciting as an H&R Block made of vanilla-flavored khakis. After all, why else would anybody believe that this guy literally banned chairs from his film sets (a rumor that was patently false). 

It doesn’t help that Nolan’s movies are largely devoid of humor. Not to mention the fact that he looks and sounds like the villain of an ‘80s ski resort comedy. But, it turns out, Nolan may actually be a pretty funny guy (insert BWAAAA sound effect here).

Recently, we’ve gotten several reminders that, despite his largely somber filmography, Nolan really does have a good sense of humor, such as his recent press interviews with Robert Downey Jr. (note also how both of them are comfortably sitting in chairs the entire time).

Nolan also made headlines for his acceptance speech at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, in which he told a genuinely funny story about taking a Peloton class, only to witness the instructor blasting his film Tenet. As Nolan quipped, “When Rex Reed takes a shit on your film, he doesn’t ask you to work out.”

Adding to his comedy cred, earlier this month, Nolan moderated the Q&A following a screening of Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie’s acclaimed TV cringefest The Curse. While, sadly, there seems to be no video record of the event online, we can only assume that Nolan praised Fielder for his decision to use practical effects, and not CGI, for the scenes featuring his character’s micropenis.

Nolan’s comedy fandom goes even further, too; during a talk show appearance in 2012, Anne Hathaway revealed that Nolan would routinely quote MacGruber on set. While Nolan may have preferred to keep his love of the Saturday Night Live spin-off under wraps, he was forced to comment on the story, later admitting, “I’ve been outed in the past as a MacGruber fan,” adding that some scenes had him “howling uncontrollably.” For all we know, the Oppenheimer director’s interest in the mechanics of nuclear weapons may have begun with this movie in which Will Forte diffuses a bomb — and shoves celery up his butthole. 

You can understand why Nolan was reluctant to voice his adoration for the wildly goofy movie. Even Forte himself said that this news prompted him to “revisit” Nolan’s filmography and “question it a little bit.” 

Meanwhile, director Jorma Taccone relentlessly pursued Nolan, trying to get him to either make a cameo, or direct an episode of the MacGruber series, but it wasn’t to be. After inviting him to a script read-through, Taccone received “the best fucking email” back from Nolan, which read: “Though I can’t be there in person to watch you take the first step of your odyssey — know that my spirit soars with you, and whilst it’s perhaps unfair to add to the great sense of responsibility you must already feel, I am duty-bound to tell you — the world is waiting, the world is watching.”

Seemingly, Nolan is now a little more comfortable professing his love of broad comedy, just last year he randomly heaped praise upon Talladega Nights during an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show, even mentioning it in the same breath as Stanley Kubrick, and quoting Ricky Bobby.

Hopefully this means that Nolan will one day give us the first $200 million, IMAX-shot fart joke.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this). 


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