It’s been in the works for a while now, but according to Deadline last night, geek favorite David Fincher is inching closer to signing on to an adaptation of Gillian Flynn‘s novel “Gone Girl.” The novel, by the former EW staffer who already had some success with thrillers “Sharp Objects” and “Dark Places” (which are also both being developed for movies), was snapped up by Reese Witherspoon not long after publication, and rave reviews and word of mouth have seen it become a literary phenomenon over the last year or so. Even if you haven’t read it yourself, you probably know plenty of people who have, or at least have been on a subway car full of people carrying it.
And rightly so. Flynn is the real deal, and the book is dark, twisty and genuinely well-written (even if we’d argue she doesn’t quite stick the landing this time out). The story (narrated by dueling protagonists) is set in Carthage, Missouri, where thirtysomething married couple Nick and Amy have moved from New York. On the surface they’re a golden couple, but one day Amy disappears without a trace, with evidence of a violent struggle at their home. Nick becomes the prime suspect, but insists he didn’t do it. Can the reader trust him? Can they trust Amy, whose own narration has been filling in the backstory?
It’s enough to keep you up into the wee hours, and it’s little wonder that Fincher’s interest is serious. With Witherspoon producing rather than starring, we thought it seemed like a good time to examine some of the actors and actresses who we think would be good contenders to play Nick and Amy in the “Gone Girl.” Take a look below, and you can weigh in with your own picks in the comments section.
Describing himself at one point as having “a face you want to punch; I’m a working-class Irish kid trapped in the body of a total trust-fund douchebag. I smile a lot to make up for my face, but this only sometimes works,” Nick is 34, a reasonably successful magazine journalist who became a victim of the recession. As a result, he’s moved back home to Carthage, Missouri, to open a bar with his sister, only for his wife of six years to disappear mysteriously, with Nick the natural suspect. Handsome and charming, he’s also deeply selfish and eager to please, to a fault. As with the other principal role, you need an actor who can play things close to his chest, not giving away whether Nick is a stone-cold killer, or an innocent caught up in someone else’s plot.
Already a popular choice among fans of the book, Cooper would seem to be in a very strong position at this stage, thanks to the success of “Silver Linings Playbook,” which earned him an Oscar nomination and made him a hotter prospect than ever before. There’s always been something faintly sinister and jockish about his presence (see “Wedding Crashers“), and that ambivalence could work out nicely. At 38 (and close to 40 by the time the film comes out), he’s on the older side of the potentials (problematic if the film keeps with the age difference in the book — Amy is older — which adds nice character texture to the relationship), but otherwise a solid choice.
Thanks to “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Looper,” few actors are more in demand right now that Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and aside from “Sin City 2,” he’s yet to pick another role, and he’d be sure to jump at the chance to work with Fincher. And while he’s never picked up awards attention, he proved long ago with things like “Mysterious Skin” that he’s got the acting chops. The biggest problem may be age — though he’s 32 now, Gordon-Levitt looks younger (he played a college student as recently as “Lincoln“), which would make it harder to sell some of the twistier plot elements of the story. Definitely an option, though.
Gyllenhaal gave probably the best performance of his career with Fincher in “Zodiac,” and the actor’s a good fit for the part. He’s about the right age (32), plus he has the right mix of moral ambivalence, smarts and looks. But he’s not the biggest box office draw around, so may not be a studio favorite. And perhaps more importantly, may not be Fincher’s either. Gyllenhaal was open about his difficulties with Fincher’s process on the earlier film, and Fincher was less than apologetic about it. Could bad blood still linger? Or would they be able to put the past behind them now that it’s been almost seven years since they last worked together?
Though he hasn’t been massively prolific in the last few years, James McAvoy is as much in demand as ever, and is having a pretty great 2013 already thanks to “Welcome To The Punch,” “Trance” and his stage version of “Macbeth.” He’s got the right mix of star power and acting chops for the part, at 33 he’s the right age, and again, he has a somewhat innocent facade, but can go darker when required. A very solid choice, even if he’s likely to be lower down on the list than someone like Cooper.
Since hanging up his Spidey outfit, Tobey Maguire has been fairly quiet. He turned down “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” was cut from “Life of Pi,” and basically no one saw either “Brothers” or “The Details,” the films he’s made since. But his name retains some marquee value, and with a high-profile part in “The Great Gatsby” on the way, he could be interesting here, particularly as he’s always proved surprising in his darker roles (“Brothers,” “The Good German“). But he is on the older side of things, and also isn’t quite as obvious a fit for the good-looking, coasting-on-charm Nick as some of the other choices.
Having gotten new critical respect and box-office power thanks to his run of success last year, Channing Tatum is as in-demand as anyone else in Hollywood, and is firmly on Fincher’s radar now as well. The actor is one of the filmmaker’s possible choices for his version of “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea,” should it get made. Tatum’s going to be tied up on The Wachowskis‘ “Jupiter Ascending” for a while, and some might balk at the idea of him playing a journalist, but he was convincing as a white-collar type in “Side Effects,” and would play the more feckless side of the character nicely. It’d be his biggest challenge yet, but he’s proving increasingly impressive, and you know the studio — and seemingly Fincher — would be keen to have him.
Perhaps this name would raise the most eyebrows, but we know from his role in “The Social Network” that David Fincher has faith in Justin Timberlake, and that paid off with a strong performance in the Facebook flick. With “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Runner Runner” on the way, he’s only more likely to win over the doubters as time goes on, and he’s the right age and type for the part, right down to the Southern background. It’s still likely to cause some fan upset, but perhaps more importantly, he’s got touring commitments in support of his new record through the summer. But if Fincher wants to wait for him, he could be a solid choice.
Honorable Mentions: A-listers likely to be on the studio wishlist (if not necessarily Fincher’s) include Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, Chris Pine, Jeremy Renner, Henry Cavill and Ryan Reynolds. A notch or two below them, but on the up enough that they might be considered, there’s people like Armie Hammer, Aaron Paul, Joel Kinnaman, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam and Jason Clarke (though the latter, along with Peter Sarsgaard and Matt Damon, might be a touch too old at this point). Chris Evans, James Marsden and Scoot McNairy would be interesting choices as well.
Nick’s wife alternates the narration. Every other chapter, at least at first, comes from Amy’s diary, filling in the story of how the two met, married, and ran into marital difficulties. A little older than her husband at 38, she writes quizzes for magazines, but is actually incredibly wealthy, due to her parents writing Amazing Amy, a hugely successful series of children’s books. But a few years into their marriage, Nick has managed to whittle down their trust fund, and their relationship certainly isn’t what it was. She appears to be sweet, smart and generally adorable, but (without getting too spoiler-y) there’s a darker side too.
The four-time Oscar nominee has already showed some interest in another Gillian Flynn-penned project; Adams was attached for a while to the writer’s earlier novel “Dark Places,” before Charlize Theron stepped in instead. But she’d be just as good a fit here. She’s the exact same age as the Amy of the novel, and can pull off both the America’s sweetheart side of the character and, as “The Master‘ proved, the more manipulative side of things too. “Man Of Steel” will only help her profile, so if her schedule allows it, this seems like a very smart pick.
At 29, Blunt is almost a decade younger than the Amy of the novel. But aside from that, we can’t see much else wrong with the idea of casting the “Looper” and ‘Five-Year Engagement” star — and it would hardly be the first time a part’s been aged down for an actress in cinema history. Often impressive, Blunt’s profile continues to creep upwards (she’s got Tom Cruise vehicle “All You Need Is Kill” coming up next year), and would be a smart fit for the old-money feel of Amy. She’s perhaps not as Americana as some of the potential actresses, but maybe that would end up working to her benefit?
Yeah, we know we pretty much suggest her for every role out there. But having just taken a second-spin of “Zero Dark Thirty,” we’re more convinced than ever that Chastain’s a once-in-a-generation talent, and only a fool would be upset by the idea of her starring here. Like Amy, she’s in her mid 30s, and she’s already proven that she’s capable of warmth and silliness (“The Help“), and more cerebral, chilly turns (“ZDT,” “The Debt“). This summer, she does have Liv Ullman‘s “Miss Julie” on her schedule, but if that’s not a problem, we’re sure Fincher would be keen to work with her.
Having given her career a new act with “Homeland,” Claire Danes hasn’t quite capitalized on her success yet, mainly because she had a baby after filming the second season. But her Emmy-winning success is bound to make her more in demand than she was before, and we wonder if she might end up coming to Fincher’s attention as a result. She’s a touch too young, but in the right sort of ballpark, and again, “Homeland” has proven that she’s been able to make a dark character more sympathetic than many could. Perhaps she’s not the A-list movie star of some of her rivals, but she would be a good fit.
Rooney Mara is becoming a regular Fincher collaborator after “The Social Network” and “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” and the filmmaker’s said to be dying to work with her again. While “Gone Girl” could be another vehicle for her, there’s a couple of issues here. Firstly, at 27, Mara’s significantly younger than the character, although again, there’s no major reason Amy couldn’t be aged down. However, her role in Steven Soderbergh “Side Effects” does have some crossover with the part in “Gone Girl,” which may not be something Mara is interested in. But if they feel that they can find a new spin on the character, she might be the most likely possibility.
She might have had a fairly brief role in “The Social Network,” but Rashida Jones has an advantage over many of these actresses in that she’s worked with Fincher before. Hers maybe not a name that comes to mind at first, but given that Jones is the daughter of Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton, she can probably identify with aspects of the character’s background. And while she hasn’t always had a chance to stretch her dramatic chops, she’s generally impressed when she has. It’d be a real roll of the dice, and one that we imagine the studio would be resistant to, but it’d be interesting to see if she was up to the challenge.
A decade on from “Dawson’s Creek,” Michelle Williams has firmly proven herself as one of the finest actresses of her generation, with three Oscar nominations to date. Fincher’s one of the auteurs she hasn’t yet worked with, but we reckon they’d be a terrific match, and the part suits her down to the ground. With “Oz The Great & Powerful” giving her a degree of box-office bona-fides, she’s probably a viable choice to lead the film, so if Fincher ultimately decides against Mara, or some of the other obvious names, Williams could easily knock this out of the park.
Honorable Mentions: Other names that could fit, even if they’re not immediately obvious ones, include Rachel McAdams, Isla Fisher, Sienna Miller, Ruth Wilson, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara and Andrea Riseborough.
The Director & Writer: Right now, the film has a writer — Gillian Flynn‘s been adapting her own novel, and if Deadline’s story is correct, Fincher is inching ever closer to committing to the project as his next movie. From what we hear, though, Flynn’s script isn’t all the way there yet, and as such, don’t be surprised if another writer is brought on. Scott Z. Burns seems like the obvious choice, given that he penned the not-dissimilar “Side Effects,” and that he’s been working with Fincher on “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.” And what if Fincher decides to make something else, be it the Disney adventure or “The Girl Who Played With Fire” or something else entirely? Well, the novel’s so zeitgeisty right now that we suspect the project would move forward anyway, and our pick for a potential replacement, should Fincher fall out, would be “Martha Marcy May Marlene” helmer Sean Durkin. He’s already proven with his debut that he’s got a mastery of fractured, time-hopping mysteries and can get excellent performances. But what do you think? Is Fincher the man for the job? Do you have a favorite of our casting picks, or do you have your own suggestions? Let us know in the comments section below.