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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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17. Carrie Coon learned about Fincher’s long takes the hard way…

Speaking to his long takes, Fincher says, “Carrie Coon learned the hard way that the last thing you want to do in one of my movies is eat. She probably sucked down at least five-and-a-half pounds of french fries.”

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18. …but there’s one shot he got in just two takes.

“So everybody bitches and moans about how many takes [I do],” Fincher says. “People I’ve never even met complain about how many takes I shoot. The take of Neil Patrick Harris parking that Jaguar dead center in the middle of that frame, that was take two. That was take two. It’s in the movie. We walked away after take two. So, please, go fuck yourselves.”

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19. How onlookers made their way into the film.

As the media circus in the film continues, Fincher says, “This was something when when we shot in Cape Girardeau on about the third or fourth day at this location, people starting showing up with folding chairs across the street on the lawn and the AD came up to me and said, ‘We will get them. Don’t worry about it. By the time we start shooting we will get all these people out of here.’ I was like, ‘It’s kind of perfect. It’s kind of exactly what you want. What you want is the sense of Gretna Green across the street from Nicole Brown Simpson‘s.”

20. The easy way Fincher controlled the crowd in the casino scene.

For the casino sequence where Amy meets Desi (with the building’s exterior constructed by visual effects as seen above), Fincher perfectly knew why he didn’t have to worry about the crowd, saying, “This is the one scene we shot where we didn’t have control of the extras because we were shooting in a working casino and it worked perfectly. It was great.” He adds, “The great news about shooting in a casino is that if you don’t have control of the background, the last thing you need to worry about is people looking in the lens because they are all watching their money and so their interest is elsewhere. They were very easy to control. We just kept giving them chips.”

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21. Where the movie gets “really weird,” according to Fincher.

Right after Nick is put under arrest, Fincher says there’s another major shift, admitting, “Now the movie gets really weird. Now Rock Hudson and Doris Day are in their Frank Lloyd Wright home in the trees around a lake somewhere in Missouri and it was never expected that this be particularly realistic. It’s incredibly hyperbolic and its going to get weirder and what I love about this is how these guys took to [it]. This is such a weird thing to say: ‘OK, you are in lingerie and you’ve got to go to the office and she’s going to tell you a story about how much she hates her ex-husband and how you stand apart from him and people like him.’ He does that little thing where she talks about Proust and he does this little, ‘What can I say?’ It’s incredibly funny to me and I love that she’s trying to build a case, a new document through the video diary, a new entry into her diary of victimization. And so she has to mess up his hair and untuck his shirt and get him to bleed and she does this and then, of course, she offer ups, ‘That’s how the kids are wearing it’ and he has no idea what she’s talking about but she sends him on his way. It’s sort of naughty and sexy and promises something else in the future, the extent to which he does not truly understand.”

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22. David Fincher on that scene.

Speaking to one of the film’s most memorably grotesque sequences, Fincher says, “It’s not about two people enjoying eachother. It’s about one person getting their needs met while another person has to get half of their needs met. It was a particularly complex scene to shoot — not so much for the activity, but for the clean-up. We shot for two days. We had 36 changes of wardrobe, 36 changes of bedding, 36 pillows. The reason why, obviously, is it’s messy. The idea of somebody being slaughtered like a lamb in the middle of coitus, it was dirty work, but somebody had to do it.”

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23. Gone with the Wind influenced Nick and Amy’s bloody reunion.

gone_with_the_wind_poster“The day that we shot this sequence I think was the day that the cast, well at least Ben and Rosamund finally realized that they were dealing with somebody that was a little unhinged,” Fincher says about his approach. “We took about an hour-and-a-half to get the continuity of the blood on Rosamund and that it could flake off and look like she had been bloody all night and she showed up on the set and I said, ‘OK, then she comes forward and she falls into your arms and then I want the poster for Gone with the Wind. I want her to fall.’ After you say, ‘You fucking bitch,’ she falls away from you and gives the press the photo of their careers. It has to be People magazine fodder for the next 15 years.”

Fincher adds, “It was the moment where we had the crane set up, we were ready, we had the 21mm lens to be on the over-the-shoulder and she drops and we see everybody go crazy and then the camera shoots up into the air and when I showed that to Ben and Rosamund thats when they were like, ‘What is this movie? What is going on?’ It was a very enjoyable moment because they finally realized how unhinged the third act of this movie was going to be. It was definitely one of those moments where you thought if I show this footage you will understand exactly what’s going on in my head.”

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24. The scene in which the looping performances were better than on set, and Fincher’s favorite shot of Pike.

“The whole reason this scene takes place in a shower is so that the character Nick Dunne can’t be recorded saying any of these lines and that none of the things Amy will say to Nick Dunne could be recorded by any outside parties,” Fincher says,” which of course means the entire scene needs to be looped, because indeed being in the shower yields dialogue tracks that are wholly unsuitable. I feel like the looping on this, the performances of it, are as good or better than anything that they gave on the day.” Fincher also notes “his favorite shot of Rosamund ever,” which is pictured above. “You see she is strong, she is stunning, and she is nuts.”

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25. Fincher teased Affleck about his chin and how it led to his casting as Batman.

“I don’t know where this idea of a villainous chin came in,” Fincher says in reference to the recurring gesture between the Dunnes (and as mistress). “But we teased Ben mercilessly during the making of the movie that he said yes to this movie and then immediately got on the phone to his agent and said, ‘OK, I’m doing a villainous chin role. You have to find me a heroic chin role and that’s how Batman came about.”

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26. The ending of the film was figured out on set.

Speaking on the divisive finale, Fincher says, “This is a scene that we kind of Frankenstein-ed from two or three other scenes that were written for this moment. We were rehearsing on the day and kind of sent the crew out as we were trying to figure out what the thesis scene was going to be. We needed a scene where he gets trapped, but that they also have a discussion about what all this is — what it all means. So Ben grabbed Rosamund and [said], ‘I’d just call her a cunt. I don’t know any other way.’ I said, ‘OK, so you would do that.’ Everybody [said], ‘Oh, no. You can’t. You can not use that word. You can not use that word.’ I said, ‘Well, what if Rosamund takes the word back? What if she says, ‘Yeah, OK. That word has no power over me. Let me tell you what, if that’s how little you think of me that you would use that word, let me remind you that this is who I am. I’m that person, yes. But if you look at your life, you were never more alive and never better than when you were trying to be somebody that this person would like.'”

Fincher adds, “And then it pushes him into this kind of honesty where he says, ‘What is it about this what you would even want?’ He rattled that off. Ben, when he gets on a roll, he can get angry and he went on this roll about ‘Yes, we loved each other, but look what’s happened, look where we are now, look what it is,’ and Rosamund just said, ‘Well that’s marriage.’ And I said, ‘Hm, maybe not that reading, but that’s a pretty powerful idea that that’s what it’s all about. It is about knowing your limitations and knowing the things that you are attracted to and knowing that they are unhealthy to you. It certainly illuminated for me what this relationship is about and why it was as poisonous and dramatic as it had become.”

Gone Girl is now available on Blu-ray. All images courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

Listen to our discussion of the film, 7 similar films, and Fincher’s manipulation of trust.

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