The best thing about “Gone Girl” arriving in a couple of weeks—besides the fact we’re getting a brand new movie from David Fincher—is that the director is hitting the press circuit, and dude gives great interview. Honest, funny and calling things as he sees it, the filmmaker is candid about his career and about whatever movie he’s pushing next. So no surprise, his latest conversation with Playboy is terrific, and covers almost everything under the sun.
Whenever a new Fincher film comes out, it’s always a good time for reflection (see this lengthy video tribute), but one movie he admits he probably shouldn’t have directed is 1997’s twisty “The Game.” Starring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn, The Criterion Collection-approved movie follows a man whose participation in a live-action game has unseen consequences, and it’s a picture that Fincher’s wife—who often shares her opinion on the projects he considers—told him not to do.
“…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,” Fincher said. “I know what I like, and one thing I definitely like is not knowing where a movie is going. These days, though, it’s hard to get audiences to give themselves over. They want to see the whole movie in a 90-second trailer.”
That may be why superhero movies are all the rage. Prepackaged and familiar, they serve a consistent meal, where all the ingredients are known before you dive in. And you won’t likely see Fincher helm a Marvel or DC movie. “I find it dull,” the director stated. “I like to anticipate the energy of a movie audience that’s waiting for the curtain to come up and thinking, Well, one thing we don’t know about this guy is that we don’t know how bad it can get.”
But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s averse to big budgets or tentpoles. Indeed, he was going to do “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” for Disney, until disagreements over casting kiboshed those plans. But that’s not all. His adventurous vision for the story also made studio suits very nervous.
“Dude, it was fucking cool,” he enthuses. “It was smart and crazy entertaining, with the Nautilus crew fighting every kind of gigantic Ray Harryhausen thing. But it also had this riptide to it. We were doing Osama bin Nemo, a Middle Eastern prince from a wealthy family who has decided that white imperialism is evil and should be resisted. The notion was to put kids in a place where they’d say, ‘I agree with everything he espouses. I take issue with his means—or his ends.’ I really wanted to do it, but in the end I didn’t have the stomach lining for it.”
Damn. That sounds fantastic. And the fact that Disney couldn’t or wouldn’t pull the trigger is probably why Fincher’s focus right now in on TV, with HBO‘s “Utopia” up next, and a few more projects brewing, including one we don’t remember hearing about.
“Studios treat audiences like lemmings, like cattle in a stockyard. I don’t want to ask actors or anyone else on a movie to work so hard with me if the studios treat us as though we’re making Big Macs. ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo‘ is not a Big Mac. ‘Gone Girl’ is not a Big Mac. This TV show I’m doing about music videos in the 1980s and the crew members who worked on them, or this other show, a Sunset Boulevard set in the world of soaps—they’re not Big Macs. I don’t make Big Macs.”
That “Sunset Boulevard” project sounds like it could be the 1950s set James Ellroy gig that was recently announced, but the music video series sounds new and that’s one heckuva premise for a show (Update: yeah, it’s almost a certainty that it is). And obviously, given his background, it’s a milieu Fincher knows very, very well. We can’t wait to hear more about that one.
And maybe we will, as there is more to come from Fincher as “Gone Girl” arrives on October 3rd.