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David Fincher Originally Wanted Ned Beatty To Play John Doe In ‘Se7en,’ Talks Unmarketable ‘Fight Club’ And More

David Fincher Originally Wanted Ned Beatty To Play John Doe In 'Se7en,' Talks Unmarketable 'Fight Club' And More

In case you missed it, the first reviews are rolling in for David Fincher‘s “Gone Girl,” and in short, he’s pretty much getting raves. The movie is being released by 20th Century Fox, but fifteen years ago, Fincher was having very different conversations at the studio. He had just wrapped “Fight Club,” and during a recent career retrospective conversation at BAFTA (via Screen Daily), he revealed just how nervous the suits up top really were about the dark, violent and cynical film.

“When we cut the movie together and showed them the final thing is the first time everyone realized they were going to get fired. It’s a great cocktail story about doing this movie that’s so dark and twisted and then they see it and go, oh my god, what’s the poster here? How do we get people to see this?” Fincher said. “The marketing department shit all over the movie and said: ‘Men don’t want to see Brad Pitt with his shirt off and women don’t want to see him bloody so you’re fucked.’ So they devised a campaign for the film to sell it to people watching the World Wrestling Federation. I wanted to sell it as a satire. Madness.”

And course, Fincher butting heads with studios is a common theme throughout this career, going all the way back to his first gig—again for Fox—on “Alien 3.” “I signed up and went off to Pinewood to be sodomized ritualistically. There’s no one problem with a $65m, fucked-up, first-time film,” Fincher stated bluntly, adding: “I pretty much alienated everyone at the studio. There was an entire layer of management between me and people paying for the movie who were saying: ‘It’s going to be fine, he’s skittish.’ And I was the one saying: ‘This is a total fucking nightmare.’ And they stopped listening to me. I got fired off ‘Alien’ twice. I was basically shut out of the mix. So I retreated back into making television commercials and had no expectation that I would ever be employable again.”

Obviously, he did make more movies. He followed up with the grim “Se7en,” and it’s a movie where Fincher initially had another candidate in mind for the crucial part of John Doe. “We read a lot of people [for John Doe]. I wanted and [screenwriter] Andy [Kevin Walker] originally wanted Ned Beatty. It was oddly based on the wanted or the police drawing of Zodiac. This guy with a crew cut and horn rimmed glasses. That was the vision,” Fincher revealed. “He should look like a poster. So we sent it to Ned Beatty and he called me and said: ‘I can’t do this. This is the most evil thing I’ve ever read.’ “

Next in line was Kevin Spacey, but his price was too high, but even back then, Brad Pitt had a lot of sway. “I said: ‘We’re running around the block on his quotes’ and he said ‘fuck that’, got on the phone and said: ‘You gotta get Kevin Spacey,’ and they said: ‘Of course!’ ” Fincher said. “It pays to be blonde.” And now, it’s hard to picture anybody else in that role.

There are a lot more interesting tidbits over here, including how Andrew Garfield originally read for Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network,” why “The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button” is “insane” and more. “Gone Girl” arrives on October 3rd, and two more TV spots are below.

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