In case we haven’t mentioned it, we read Playboy for the articles. And there’s a good one in the October issue – which, since it’s 2014, is now online. David Fincher, the press-shy auteur behind such gems as Se7en, Fight Club and The Social Network, opened up to the magazine about a variety of subjects in the walk up to his latest release, a film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestseller Gone Girl (which, if our level of anticipation for the crime thriller starring Ben Affleck is any indication, could be another notch on the director’s gem belt). Like Fincher’s movies, his profanity-laced Playboy interview is at turns gut-busting and even stomach-turning (the guy presents imagery in his second answer that will have the faint of heart reaching for the scroll button). All in all, though, it is deeply insightful stuff. Here are seven of the best tidbits we gleaned from Playboy’s Q&A.
1. He resented claims that Se7en started the “torture porn” movement.
Asked by interviewer Stephen Rebello if viewers ever confront him for “unlocking their personal Pandora’s box of dark thoughts,” Fincher thought back to the horror trend of the early 2000s: “It was offensive to me on a certain level that when Saw and those other movies came out, people said, ‘Well, torture porn really started with Se7en.’ F**k you.” He went on to explain that Se7en, released in 1995 nine years before the first Saw movie, left so much more to the imagination than the proudly grotesque “torture porn” movies (a label, it should be noted, if often resented in the horror community). “We were extremely conscious of the fact that we were talking about torture, but we never actually showed it.”
2. He’s not proud of The Game.
The Game, Fincher’s 1997 thriller starring Michael Douglas as a man forced into some terrifying role-playing by his shady brother (Sean Penn), is not quite as renowned as the director’s other fare, but it remains a fan favorite. And Fincher regrets it. Explaining his working relationship with his wife, longtime producer Ceán Chaffin, the filmmaker said he picks her brain, and that they’ll often disagree. “She was extremely vociferous, for instance, when she said, ‘Don’t make The Game.’” And just when it seems Fincher might be throwing her under the bus, the twist: “And in hindsight, my wife was right. We didn’t figure out the third act, and it was my fault, because I thought if you could just keep your foot on the throttle it would be liberating and funny.”
3. Fincher got in trouble for “f**king up” a Brad Pitt nude shot.
“Brad f**ks with me all the time,” Fincher said about his leading man from Se7en, Fight Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. He recalled that during the making of the twisty 1999 thriller Fight Club, the film’s distributor, 20th Century Fox, was particularly excited that one scene called for naked a Pitt opening the door. “When it came time to shoot it, being Brad, he said, ‘I should open the door and have a big yellow dishwasher scrub glove on.’ I said, ‘Perfect.’ When the studio executive saw it, she said, ‘You got him with his shirt off and then you f**ked the whole thing up.” Despite the aforementioned f**kery, Fincher later says in the interview that he still offers every role to Pitt, “not because I’m pathetic but because he’s good for so many things.”
4. That “f**king weird” relationship with Rooney Mara was all about marketing and protecting the integrity of Lisbeth Salander.
Rebello didn’t leave any controversy untouched, including Daniel Craig’s 2011 comment that Fincher’s relationship with the 007 actor’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo co-star Rooney Mara (who starred as hacker Lisbeth Salander) was “f**king weird.” After laying into Vogue writer Jonathan Van Meter a bit for attempting to craft “a Tippi Hedren–Alfred Hitchcock sort of thing,” Fincher explained that he was at odds with the movie’s distributor over Mara’s publicity campaign for the film. “From the beginning I said to the Sony publicity people that the purpose of plucking someone like Rooney from obscurity is that they walk on-screen and you immediately believe who the f**k they are, rather than, ‘You were on Gossip Girl, right?’ Rooney will tell you that I let her do anything she wanted. But it seemed counter to what we were trying to do to see her on the cover of Seventeen or being trotted out on every television show to go, ‘Here she is, cute as a f**king button and not at all this goth Swedish punker.’”
5. Google Images helped convince him Ben Affleck was right for Gone Girl.
David Fincher likes Google Images, just like you and me. In explaining the “affable” appeal of both Pitt and Affleck, the director comments that he casts his movie based on what looks and expressions certain actors can bring to critical scenes. “In Gone Girl there’s a smile [lead character Nick Dunne] has to give when the local press asks him to stand next to a poster of his missing wife. I flipped through Google Images and found about 50 shots of Affleck giving that kind of smile in public situations. You look at them and know he’s trying to make people comfortable in the moment, but by doing that he’s making himself vulnerable to people having other perceptions about him.”
6. He defends accusations that he’s difficult-to-work-with perfectionist.
When Rebello mentions that actors such as Daniel Craig, Robert Downey Jr. and Jake Gyllenhaal have publicly commented about how hard he worked them, Fincher replied, “If you didn’t get hugged enough as a kid, you won’t find what you’re looking for from me. That’s not my gig and I’m not attuned to it.” Asked what the filmmaker might see in Take 11 that he didn’t in Take 5, Fincher explained, “Part of the promise when I work with actors is that we may be on take 11 and I’ll say, ‘We certainly have a version that we can put in the movie that will make us all happy. But I want to do seven more and continue to push this idea. Let’s see where it goes.’ Now, I may go back to them after those seven takes and say, ‘It was a complete f**king waste of effort, but I had to try because I feel there’s something to be mined from this.’”
7. And he’s well aware of his reputation.
“I’m sure there are people who think I bite the heads off puppies,” Fincher said. “There’s nothing I can do about that.”
Read the full interview here. Gone Girl opens Oct. 3.
Photos: Reuters, Fox