The actress has worked with Nolan twice, appearing as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises and playing an astronaut in Interstellar.
Hathaway, 37, revealed the unusual on-set rule while speaking to Hugh Jackman for Variety’s Actors on Actors issue.
“He doesn’t allow chairs,” she told her fellow actor, who himself worked with Nolan on The Prestige. “And 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 latest blockbuster is the highly-anticipated Tenet, starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson.
It looks set to be one of the biggest films of the year and the industry is hoping it can entice fans back to the cinema following months of lockdown.
Warner Bros has repeatedly delayed Tenet’s release amid the coronavirus pandemic and it is currently scheduled to arrive in cinemas on Wednesday, August 12.
Additional reporting by Press Association