Christopher Jonathan James Nolan (30 July 1970) is an English American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He has created several of the most critically and commercially successful films of the early 21st century. His nine films have grossed over US$4.2 billion worldwide and garnered a total of 26 Oscar nominations and seven awards.
Having made his directorial debut with Following (1998), he gained considerable attention for his second feature, Memento (2000). The acclaim of these independent films afforded Nolan the opportunity to make the big-budget thriller Insomnia (2002), and the more offbeat drama The Prestige (2006). He found further popular and critical success with The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005–2012), Inception (2010) and Interstellar (2014). Nolan has co-written several of his films with his brother, Jonathan Nolan, and runs the production company Syncopy Inc. with his wife Emma Thomas.
Nolan was born in London. His English father, Brendan James Nolan, was an advertising executive, and his American mother, Christina (née Jensen), worked as a flight attendant and English teacher. His childhood was split between London and Chicago, and he has both British and American citizenship. He has an older brother, Matthew, and a younger brother, Jonathan.
He began making films at age seven, borrowing his father's Super 8 camera and shooting short films with his action figures. Growing up, Nolan admired Star Wars and around the age of eight he made a stop motion animation homage called Space Wars. His uncle who worked at NASA, building guidance systems for the Apollo rockets, sent him some launch footage. "I re-filmed them off the screen and cut them in, thinking no-one would notice," Nolan later remarked. From the age of 11, he aspired to be a professional filmmaker.
Nolan was educated at Haileybury and Imperial Service College, an independent school in Hertford Heath, Hertfordshire, and later read English literature at University College London (UCL). He chose UCL specifically for its filmmaking facilities, which comprised a Steenbeck editing suite and 16 mm film cameras. Nolan was president of the Union's Film Society, and with Emma Thomas (his girlfriend and future producer) he screened 35 mm feature films during the school year and used the money earned to produce 16 mm films over the summers.
During his college years, Nolan made two short films. The first was the surreal 8 mm Tarantella (1989), which was shown on Image Union (an independent film and video showcase on the Public Broadcasting Service). The second was Larceny (1995), filmed over a weekend in black and white with a limited cast, crew, and equipment. Funded by Nolan and shot with the society's equipment, it appeared at the Cambridge Film Festival in 1996 and is considered one of UCL's best shorts
DC Extended UniverseEdit
During story discussions for The Dark Knight Rises in 2010, Goyer told Nolan of his idea to present Superman in a modern context. Impressed with Goyer's concept, Nolan pitched the idea for Man of Steel (2013) to Warner Bros, who hired Nolan to produce and Goyer to write. Nolan offered Zack Snyder to direct the film, based on his stylized adaptations of 300 (2007) and Watchmen (2009) and his "innate aptitude for dealing with superheroes as real characters". Starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon, Man of Steel grossed more than $660 million at the worldwide box office, but garnered a divisive critical reaction.
After DC Extended UniverseEdit
Nolan and Thomas served as executive producers on Transcendence (2014), the directorial debut of Nolan's long-time cinematographer Wally Pfister. Based on a script by Jack Paglen, the film revolves around two scientists who work toward creating a machine that possesses sentience and collective intelligence. Starring Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany, Transcendence was released in theaters on 18 April 2014 to mostly unfavorable reviews.
In January 2013 it was announced that Nolan would direct, write and produce a science-fiction film entitled Interstellar. The first drafts of the script were written by Jonathan Nolan, and it was originally to be directed by Steven Spielberg. Based on the scientific theories of renowned theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, the film depicted "a heroic interstellar voyage to the farthest borders of our scientific understanding". Interstellar starred Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, and Ellen Burstyn, and was notably Nolan's first collaboration with cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema. According to composer Hans Zimmer, they wanted to move in a new direction with the score: "We had this sort of conversation about — you know nine years we spent in our Batman world. The textures, the music, and the sounds, and the thing we sort of created has sort of seeped into other people's movies a bit, so it's time to reinvent." Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. co-financed and co-distributed the project, released on 5 November 2014 to generally positive reviews and strong box office results, grossing over $670 million worldwide. Interstellar was named one of the best films of the year by The American Film Institute (AFI). At the 87th Academy Awards, the film won the Best Visual Effects and received four other nominations — Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Production Design. Nolan curated the short film Emic: A Time Capsule From the People of Earth (2015). It was specifically inspired by the themes of Interstellar, and "attempts to capture and celebrate the human experience on Earth".
In 2015, Nolan's production company Syncopy formed a joint venture with Zeitgeist Films, to release Blu-ray editions of Zeitgeist's prestige titles. Their first project was Elena (2011), from director Andrey Zvyagintsev
Nolan is married to Emma Thomas, whom he met at University College London when he was 19. She has worked as a producer on all of his films, and together they founded the production company Syncopy Inc. The couple have four children and reside in Los Angeles.
Nolan prefers not to use a cell phone or an email address, saying "It's not that I'm a Luddite and don't like technology; I've just never been interested [...] When I moved to Los Angeles in 1997, nobody really had cell phones, and I just never went down that path."
- Before producing Man of Steel, he directed the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Dark Knight trilogy, which is set to be rebooted for the DC Extended Universe.