A Brief History of Christopher Nolan's Crazy Love Affair With Tea

Christopher Nolan-Al Pacino-Tea
Christopher Nolan-Al Pacino-Tea

The mind-bending films of Christopher Nolan are fodder for endless discussion, but the director himself has proven somewhat difficult for writers assigned to profile him. Serious-minded and driven, Nolan rarely offers insight into his personal life, and there are few obvious eccentricities or weaknesses that can help define him.

There is one thing, however, that just about every writer notices (and later chronicles) when in the Interstellar director’s company: His love of tea.

As frequent collaborator Michael Caine will tell you, Nolan keeps a flask of Earl Grey tea in the deep pockets of his tweed jacket at all times, and is constantly sipping from it, no matter the circumstance.

And so, we’ve gone through years of Christopher Nolan profiles to pull out just a few instances of his tea drinking, noting all the different locations where he has enjoyed his favorite beverage:

At a movie theater in New York City, circa last month:
We navigated in the descending dark toward Nolan’s preferred seats, third-row center, swinging briefly by Nolan’s assistant of four years, Andy Thompson, to wordlessly exchange an empty takeaway cup of tea for a fresh thermos. (“Andy can get me tea on a glacier,” Nolan said, with a sort of puzzled appreciation.)

In his hotel room, circa 2012:
“We’ve gone to some very extreme places with the content of the film and how much we’ve been allowed to explore, ideas of society, of corruption and decay,” says Nolan, sipping his morning tea by a fire in the drawing room of New York City’s Greenwich Hotel in mid-December.

Christopher Nolan-Al Pacino-Tea
Christopher Nolan-Al Pacino-Tea

In his editing suite, circa 2010:
“It’s very exciting, we have a fantastic story,” Christopher Nolan said while sipping tea in the sleek editing suite that fills the converted garage adjacent to his Hollywood home.

In his backyard, also in 2010:
For Mr. Nolan, a tall, well-mannered man who was raised in London and Chicago and who ritualistically dresses in an overcoat and dress shirts even on warm spring days, those statistics are humbling but necessary. “What I found is, it’s not possible to execute this concept in a small fashion,” he said, sipping tea at a picnic table in his backyard.

On the set of The Prestige, circa 2006:
If you were a stranger on set,” Hugh Jackman said, “you might be hard-pressed to work out who the director was, unless you spotted that every day there was this guy in a long blue overcoat with a Starbucks cup with Earl Grey tea in it — permanently.”

Christopher Nolan-Al Pacino-Tea
Christopher Nolan-Al Pacino-Tea

In some temporary offices in Soho Square, circa 2005:
When asked about being spontaneous he gets up to refill his cup and his wife teases him. “He has a spontaneous urge for a cup of tea,” she giggles. “It’s about as spontaneous as it gets.”

Just chilling with a reporter, circa 2002:
Watching Nolan as he carefully squeezes a lemon into a cup of tea, I see a man who’s clearly in love with film.

With Al Pacino, also in 2002: