If there is an heir to Stanley Kubrick’s place in Hollywood, specifically the filmmaker’s insistence on doing many, many takes of the same scene, that man would have to be David Fincher. The Fight Club director is a notorious perfectionist, who insists on doing hundreds of takes of a single scene until everything in the scene works to his satisfaction.
Apparently, that quest for perfection extends to Fincher’s personal life. In a recent interview with Jodie Foster for his podcast, Marc Maron revealed that he has a two-and-a-half-hour interview with Fincher saved on a hard drive, that he is not allowed to release because Fincher felt he had not done a good enough job on the interview.
“I did a two-and-a-half-hour conversation with [Fincher]. And he didn’t think it was right. He wouldn’t let us release it. So I’m sitting on this two-and-a-half-hour conversation with David Fincher. He’s like, I don’t know, let’s hold off on it, because I think I could do more… He seems like this perfectionist, you know, tormented guy.”
On her part, Foster is also very familiar with Fincher’s obsession with trying to do better. The actress played the lead role in the filmmaker’s 2002 offering Panic Room. According to Foster, what makes Fincher’s obsession tolerable is the fact that he has the talent to back it up.
“He just makes me want to put my arms around him and tell him, you know what, it is gonna be okay. Like, chillax. And I love him for it. I love him that he is so committed. And he gives 100,000 times more than anybody else on that movie. I mean, and he can do any of our jobs better than we can. I mean, he’s a better actor than I am. He’s a better prop master. He’s a better DP. So I’m always just, bow down in the presence of somebody who really is just so gifted and so committed. But it’s hard to be David Fincher, I wouldn’t want to be him.”
While Foster appears to be forgiving of David Fincher’s method of work, not all his collaborators feel the same way. Jake Gyllenhaal, in particular, who played one of the leads in Fincher’s 2007 American mystery thriller Zodiac, was so fed up with the whole process that he later remarked, “You get a take, 5 takes, 10 takes. Some places, 90 takes. But there is a stopping point. There’s a point at which you go, ‘That’s what we have to work with.’ But we would reshoot things. So there came a point where I would say, well, what do I do? Where’s the risk?”
No matter the divided response from his actors, with the critical acclaim accorded to Fincher’s latest movie Mank, the filmmaker’s intensive methods are clearly still working for his career. Let’s hope Fincher learns to relax a bit when it comes to non-film work and finally allows Maron to release his interview. This news comes from Marc Maron’s WTF podcast.