David Fincher addresses tension with Jake Gyllenhaal on Zodiac set: 'He was very distracted'
In 2007, in the wake of completing work on Fincher's true-crime mystery Zodiac, Gyllenhaal alluded to difficulties that arose on set, telling The New York Times that the Mank director "paints with people" and adding, "It's tough to be a color." Now, in a new interview with the Times, Fincher has opened up about what exactly went down, describing it as an “extremely simple” situation.
"Jake was in the unenviable position of being very young and having a lot of people vie for his attention, while working for someone who does not allow you to take a day off," the filmmaker explained. "I believe you have to have everything out of your peripheral vision....I don’t think he’d ever been asked to concentrate on minutiae, and I think he was very distracted. He had a lot of people whispering that Jarhead" — Sam Mendes' 2005 war movie starring Gyllenhaal — "was going to be this massive movie and put him in this other league, and every weekend he was being pulled to go to the Santa Barbara film festival and the Palm Springs film festival and the [expletive] Catalina film festival. And when he’d show up for work, he was very scattered."
Fincher added that the tensions had died down by the end of Zodiac's production and that Gyllenhaal had apologized. "I don’t want to make excuses for my behavior," the director said. "There are definitely times when I can be confrontational if I see someone slacking. People go through rough patches all the time. I do. So I try to be compassionate about it. But. It’s: Four. Hundred. Thousand. Dollars. A day. And we might not get a chance to come back and do it again."
Fincher has frequently clashed with actors over what many call his perfectionistic tendencies, particularly his infamous practice of shooting extensive takes on set. Reports have already emerged about Mank star Gary Oldman's frustrations with being asked to perform a scene over a hundred times.
“I tell actors all the time: I’m not going to cut around your hangover, I’m not going to cut around your dog dying, I’m not going to cut around the fact that you just fired your agent or your agent just fired you,” the director told the Times. “Once you get here, the only thing I care about is, Did we tell the story?”
Fincher has not been shy about his thoughts and opinions on the Mank press tour, recently calling Joker "a betrayal of the mentally ill" and slamming the major Hollywood studios, saying they "don’t want to make anything that can’t make them a billion dollars."
Mank, the director's latest film, arrives on Netflix Dec. 4.