10 Questions for David Fincher

4 minute read
Belinda Luscombe

Seven, Zodiac and now The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — why so many serial-killer films?

If I was financing my own movies, that would be a very suspect thing, but I’m responding to movies that people are sending me.

Don’t a lot of men in your movies have issues with women, from Dragon Tattoo to Fight Club to The Social Network ?

I think this movie is more about sexual politics. Mikael Blomkvist moves freely among women and doesn’t have any problems with them, but his relationships aren’t always mature. I think you can say that about a lot of male-female relationships. The men are not really present.

What is it about Stieg Larsson’s stories that have captured the current imagination?

They’re talking about how men and women work together, and that gives a modern riptide to the crime thriller. The relationship between a middle-aged man and a young woman, how they are friends and partners and sometimes lovers — it’s not just the guy cop and the girl cop.

There have been weird stirrings of violence in Scandinavia recently that echo this book. Is civilization an illusion?

I think civilization is an agreement, and once in a while, you’re going to run into people who didn’t get the memo.

You made some of the most iconic music videos, including Madonna’s “Vogue.” Are you still making them?

The last one I did was for Trent Reznor, a song called “Only.” But movie-credit sequences are similar, in that they’re just images cut to music.

What’s the most fun product to make a TV commercial for?

Perfume is pretty good because nobody has to hold the product by their face or use it. And I love shooting football.

Did you really do 99 takes for the first scene of The Social Network ?

I did 99 takes over nine setups. It was elaborately dovetailed dialogue that had to fit together. We wanted people to be able to hear critical, nuanced line deliveries that set up who these people are and what their major malfunction is.

Is that many takes a bad thing?

Let’s put it this way: if the amount of media I recorded affected the ticket price, then this would be a conversation that should be had. But this “Oh my God, you shot 25 takes of that?” — sometimes you have to do it. So I’m being defensive. I’m extremely exhausted with this question.

Is there a big gap between the movie you make in your head and the movie that gets made?

Everything seems really simple on paper until you take a camera out of the box. Then 90 people are offering up solutions to the problems those pages create. You’re trying to make something very clear in this maelstrom of activity with all this anxiety about how much money is being spent. I don’t think you can ever make it the way you have it in your head.

Your first movie, Alien 3 , was not well received. Is it true that you learn more from failure than from success?

I learn the most from making my own mistakes. There’s nothing worse than when somebody says, “Oh, you made that movie? I hated that movie,” and you say, “I agree with you.” You want to be able to get in a fistfight over your movies. But I’ve learned more from having made my own errors in judgment than when somebody says, “This vice president is going to recut your film.” I don’t know what I learned from that other than to fight.

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