“Gone Girl” premiered at the 2014 New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center Saturday, Sept. 26th. Director David Fincher appeared at a press conference, along with cast members Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tyler Perry. Gillian Flynn, the author of both the novel and screenplay, also appeared.
Below are some of the highlights from the conference:
On why they wanted to make the film:
Ben: What was really interesting was that the book asked really hard questions about marriage and relationships. It didn’t gloss over the things we don’t like to look at in others and ourselves. Sometimes, you find out ugly things when you ask hard questions. That’s why they’re hard.
Ros definitely had the courage to go toward that, and we wanted to give truth to Gillian’s dark look at marriage and David’s subversive take on the dark look at marriage.
David: I read a book, and I thought, “It’s 500 pages. There’s 3 movies in here.” So, I said, “When you have a script, I’d love to read it.”
And Gillian’s first draft – she didn’t just trim the tree, the trunk was left but she slaughtered all the darlings. And I was amazed at the through-line and the power that the story had as it related to this idea of narcissistic armor.
Ben on his character:
Ben: What I found was that women and men have very different reactions to this character. Most of the women journalists were like, “What was it like playing a dick?” And most of the men just were like, “Yeah…” [shrugs in a sigh of resignation]
Rosamund on her character:
Rosamund: I don’t think she could have been a man. The way her brain works is really particularly female…. Much of the time, a strong woman in a film has the qualities of a man.
Neil on his character:
Neil: I was just fascinated … that all of the characters were relatively suspect throughout. It was kind of intentional that we were asked to play people who couldn’t reveal too much…. I liked the element that I’m not just creepy in the movie, that there’s pathos to it but then, annoying creepy, or maybe it’s just sad.
Gillian: Sweetly creepy.
Neil: Which is a tattoo I just got. [laughter]
On working with David Fincher:
Ben: I would have done the phone book with David, so you can imagine my relief when I read “Gone Girl” and it wasn’t just an alphabetical list of names. It was a story. To get a chance to work with a guy you admire a great deal, particularly his work as a director, which I want to be a director one day [laughter].
Before all my movies I’ve directed, I’ve watched “Se7en.” I feel like it’s the most perfect, meticulously Swiss-watch-made thing. What kind of person makes a movie like this? …
David: A Swiss person….
Ben: It was great to work with David, and it was a true learning experience…. And David, despite his reputation, is a very funny and nice guy, not just a diva….
Gillian: He’s underrated for those weird bursts of dark humor that are in his films. I thought that this would be a guy who would not be afraid to keep those in there. I think that those moments are really important.
Tyler: For me, it was the greatest learning experience I’ve ever had. I can’t even imagine learning more in any other place or with any other director. That’s the level of brilliance – and I’ve said this a lot about his eye. He does a lot of takes, but what I realized very early on is that he is seeing everything at once. I don’t think he sees like regular humans….
I walked away hopeful that one day, I’ll do better with my own films just being able to work with him.
Neil: I love that David has an amazing vocabulary, and he demands a high level of excellence while you’re performing. So, everyone on the set is very quiet, and everyone’s very focused.
And yet, the way he communicates with people is calm and confident, so it’s not demanding excellence and ratcheting up the stress level because I didn’t feel like when we were working that it was intense. It felt like we wanted to execute well for him, but he, between lots of takes, would give notes that were calming notes.
David on the casting of the actors:
David: Ben is real obvious casting, and Neil, yeah, who else do you get? [laughter] I think that you have to imagine the dynamic that you want … you’re tying to sort of figure out how they’re going to work together. There’s a gut instinct level to it, but you look at things that they naturally have.
I met Tyler, and I was really taken with the fact that he was so calm and calming, and he has an incredible apparatus for making you feel like you’re heard….
Ros was somebody that I had seen in 4 or 5 different movies over 10 years, and I never got a beat on her. I never got a sense of who she was…. There was a capacity there that was interesting. It wasn’t confounding; it made me lean in.
On shooting scenes out of sequence:
Rosamund: We didn’t shoot in order…. We did jump back and forth a lot. A lot of it was dictated by the weight fluctuations that had to occur. I had to be heavier and slimmer in all the different locations.
Ben: I just got heavier.
Rosamund: Well, Ben was, yes, becoming Batman at the time. By the time we were in the shower, I was with Batman.