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26 Things We Learned From David Fincher’s ‘Gone Girl’ Commentary

Written by on January 14, 2015 

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9. How Steven Soderbergh’s Singani 63 made it into the film.

Revealing how Steven Soderbergh got to view the film twice nearly a year ago, Fincher says, “Singani 63 is an alcoholic beverage that is imported by Steven Soderbergh and I gave him a choice as to what scene he wanted his Singani to appear in. He chose a later scene where Rosamund Pike violates herself with a bottle. When she was offered either an exquisite French Chardonnay or this Singani she chose the Chardonnay for actor reasons.” So, instead, we see Soderbergh’s alcohol when Affleck breaks the glass.

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10. The one cast member that didn’t mess up continuity.

One member of the cast that leaves a major impression is the Dunnes’ feline, which Affleck’s character seems to give more attention to than his missing wife. “I love this cat, ” Fincher says. “This cat’s name is Cheeto, because he looks like a Cheeto. Cheeto was not very healthy. I think Cheeto was a little dehydrated. His fur was a little greasy and kind of matted. He didn’t seem to hear very much. I don’t know that he saw very much, but the beauty of Cheeto was wherever you placed Cheeto, that’s where he was going to stay for that day. So continuity with Cheeto was never an issue. If you put Cheeto on the stairs, you can shoot for nine hours and at the end of the day, go, Cheeto’s at the bottom of the stairs and you can pick him up. He was fantastic.”

11. Lolita‘s approach to taboo subject matter influenced the film.

“So, when I was reading the book I got to the point of the twist and I’m reading it. I suddenly become aware that there’s an inevitability to this reveal,” Fincher says. “There’s an inevitability that this movie is nowhere near as simple as just the pregnant wife victim. This speech — the “Cool Girl” speech, which is sort of going to be tacked on bringing the audience up to speed — this is what you’ve really been watching. It’s a very tricky moment. One of the things Gillian and I talked about was initially this movie talks about some ugly things, but has to talk about ugly things in a way that’s amusing and we talked about Lolita.”

“This was a movie in 1962 that’s about a pedophile and yet the movie is not about pedophilia and it’s not a cautionary tale about taking sophisticates into your home and putting them in charge of your daughter,” the director continues. “It’s a movie that has to talk about extremely disturbing things and at a time when you weren’t even allowed to say some of the words the book uses to talk about its subject matter. So they figured out a way to kind of get beyond people’s reticence to even engage and one of the ways they did it was through humor. Certainly when we were talking about Desi Collings we talked a lot about Clare Quilty and how his character doesn’t have to necessarily exist in the real world. He can be a figment of our imagination.”

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12. Fincher’s dissatisfaction with a Vertigo scene affected Gone Girl.

Speaking about the reveal of Amy’s masterplan halfway through the film, Fincher, says, “This was the moment where we talked about Vertigo. For me, the incredible dissatisfaction in Vertigo is the letter that gets written that explains to Scottie everything that has happened. I felt very much that if we didn’t have a sequence that had kind of a density of information and that didn’t really show you in incredibly compromising terms what went down, it needed to be a sequence as smart as its villain and I think that Gillian wrote that and I think that the density of the information and the thought process behind these ideas really kind of draw you to this character in a way. At the same time she is morally repugnant, she’s also fascinating and I think that’s her saving grace. She’s really fucking interesting.”

13. Fincher had a tough battle with Fox to only use the first 54 minutes of the film in marketing…

“One of the things that took a long time to put together, as far as I was concerned, one of the things that kept me from saying ‘yes’ to this movie for a number of months was my insistence with Jim Gianopulos, the head of Fox, that we can’t use any footage from fade-out where we reveal what’s happened with Amy,” the director says. “We can’t use any of that footage in the trailer. We have to limit ourselves to showing Amy only in flashbacks, because I don’t want to see Ozarks Amy. The one shot that I did allow was the underwater shot because I liked the idea of it setting the stage: did he or did he not kill his wife? Not what happened to his wife, but did he or did he not kill her?”

He continues, “I felt like that footage helped us make that mystery pointed, but it was a really, really interesting and tough marketing restraint, because as much as everybody agrees in theory — ‘yes, we don’t want to give away the twist’ — when push comes to shove and the movie’s not tracking, and people are worried about whether or not anybody is going to show up on Friday night, the first thing that happens is people go, ‘Well, we have this great joke that happens later. She does come back covered in blood. That would be great.’ It took about three months and a lot of conversations with Jim and with Emma Watts at Fox to say, ‘You’re going to have to agree with this. You’re going to have to back the play that if you don’t bury the lede and if you market this movie as here’s a stupid guy and his crazy wife, then there’s no reason to make the movie. You have to give people that enjoyment at least, of finding that out.’ Eventually everybody agreed but it made it really hard to get people into the theater to watch the movie because we were very limited from a teaser to a trailer to television spots, we were limited to the first 54 minutes of footage. We couldn’t use anything else.” He concludes, “The marketing had to be: Did Ben Affleck kill his wife?”

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14. …but he wanted some of the marketing to intentionally lie to the audience and make the characters less likable.

As briefly mentioned above, in the trailers, we saw the carefully designed shot of a dead Amy Dunne floating to the depths of the river and because of that, Fincher says that, “the audience was very resistant to liking either of these characters because they thought the blonde chick might die.” He adds, “You have to market a movie in a way that’s going to bring people into the theater. Sometimes you have to promise them things that are beyond the opening scenes of the narrative. When you do that, you kind of fuck up… their minds certainly aren’t blank slates when they come to the theater.”

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15. Woody Allen’s Manhattan influenced the casting of Scoot McNairy.

“One of my favorite moments in movie history is in Manhattan where Diane Keaton has been talking about this ex-lover of hers who really opened her up sexually to the radical ideas of intimacy,” Fincher says. “The entire time Woody Allen is kind of freaked out about someone who is a professor of hers and finally he meets Wally Shawn and Wally Shawn plays the devastating ex-lover. I love the idea of you are going to meet the person who may or may not have raped Amy and then you meet Scoot [McNairy] and Scoot’s like, ‘Me? Do I look like a rapist?’ I needed someone that you would look at and go, he’s a lot of things but a rapist he is not. He makes half of his case just by showing up in these scene.”

16. Fincher and Affleck fought over what baseball cap the latter would wear.

“There’s a moment described at the end of this scene where Nick Dunne has to reach in his duffel bag or his backpack and get out a baseball cap he’s bought at the airport and he puts it on and walks away in hopes that people don’t recognize him from the television and put two and two together that that’s him — that he’s in their presence.” Fincher jokes, “I really wanted it to be a Yankees cap, but being from Boston and not being very professional as an actor, Ben refused to wear a Yankees cap and we did not come to blows but we had to shut down production for four days as we negotiated with [agent] Patrick Whitesell over what would be the best thing for the movie, what Patrick thought would be the best way to meet the requirements of the production and something that his client could live with, which I thought was entirely unprofessional.”

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