David ‘Forty Takes’ Fincher seeks perfection from his actors
BY DENNIS KING
NEW YORK – Director David Fincher is notorious among actors as a demanding, hard-driving perfectionist.
For actors who’ve worked with him on such films as “Fight Club,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Social Network” and the much-anticipated American remake of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” Fincher is known for shooting numerous (some say endless) takes of a single scene in search of just the right nuance of performance and production.
During press interviews for “Dragon Tattoo,” Fincher and cast members joked about his well-deserved reputation as a stylish perfectionist and offered some insights into the director’s demanding methods.
“I like people who like to work the way I like to work,” Fincher said of his casting decisions. “And there are people who share an unspoken understanding and way of communicating that’s easy. Sometimes people freak out when you shoot 40 takes or something, and they are sort of looking at you like, ‘what did I do wrong?’
“No it’s not wrong; we’re going to try something different,” he said he explains. “I like certain people’s energies, and you think this person could work well in this situation. Hopefully, you’re not going to the well for the same thing every time.”
Stellan Skarsgard, who plays the wealthy Vanger family scion in “Dragon Tattoo,” told of his own experience with Fincher’s work ethic.
“For instance, I have a five-minute monologue, which is very hard to get right, and we rehearsed it and we talked it over with (screenwriter) Steve Zaillian and it was a work in progress,” Skarsgard said. “Working with David you get a lot of chances to get it right. You get about 40 takes.
“And he does push you,” Skarsgard continued. “It’s not that he says, ‘I want the scene to be played this way’ and tells you how to do it. But after a couple of takes he pushes you one way, and then he pushes you in another way and then you push yourself in a third way and hopefully you come up with a lot of different colors in the same scene, which gives the director the options to calibrate your performance afterwards. That’s my hope that the director can calibrate my performance.”
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