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David Fincher Says His 'Cleopatra' With Angelina Jolie Wouldn't Be A "Giant Sword And Sandal Epic"

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist December 19, 2011 at 6:30PM

David Fincher Says His 'Cleopatra' With Angelina Jolie Wouldn't Be A "Giant Sword And Sandal Epic"
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Also Says '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea' Will Be Set "Post Civil-War," While 'Rendezvous With Rama' Is Dead

David Fincher Cleopatra

While recently talking with MTV (which just named his film, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," the year's best movie), David Fincher gave quick updates on several of his most speculated-about projects, including Scott Rudin and Angelina Jolie's take on "Cleopatra," his long-delayed adaptation of "2001" author Arthur C. Clarke's "Rendezvous with Rama," "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and, oddly enough, the "Fight Club" musical.

While we're pretty sure everyone is sick and tired of hearing about "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," this interview did get a couple of great new stories out of the director. In terms of Lisbeth Salender's look, he said that, "We did a lot of exploring. We looked into the stitched, Sally from 'Nightmare Before Christmas.'" WHAT? Can we please pray to the DVD gods that those make-up tests will eventually make their way out into the world?

When asked about the potential for Fincher doing another chapter in the so-called "Millennium" trilogy by Swedish author Stieg Larsson, he said that the second one was more of a possibility. "I think the second book is very cinematic. It suffers a little bit from a lack of Salander," Fincher said. "I think it ends in an odd way. I love the notion of really talking about sex trafficking, and what Anonymous is doing and stuff with child porn. There are a few new ways to come off the rails." Where you see a sequel to a blockbuster tentpole, Fincher sees a chance to explore outre pornography and sex trafficking. Tremendous.

On the subject of his big budget adaptation of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" for Disney, he said that, "The idea of a post-Civil War version of science fiction and the notion of being able to breathe underwater was so radical in its thinking. That's pretty cool," Fincher said. "If you're going to do big tentpole teenage PG-13 summer movies, it's kind of cool that it would be this."

Another project that Fincher has been connected to more recently is a new big screen "Cleopatra," developed by Scott Rudin and his "Curious Case of Benjamin Button" scribe Eric Roth for Angelina Jolie. While many thought this was just wishful thinking, Fincher seems more invested. "That's something I would love to do with Angie," Fincher said. "It's something that was brought to me that you have to take seriously. Scott has this wonderful book [by Stacy Schiff] and hopefully Eric can find a way in. I'm not interested in a giant sword and sandal epic," Fincher said. Of course he doesn't want to do the typical "epic" take, but his reasoning is more interesting. "We've seen scope; everyone knows we can fake that. That stuff doesn't impress in the way that it did even 10 years ago. We expect that from cable. So that's not the reason to do that. What is it about this character that has purchased this place in our history and imagination that is relatable today?"

While the subject shifted to working with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on the brilliant "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" score, the possibility of the "Fight Club" musical came up (which Reznor was linked to score), to which Fincher said, "I keep trying!" So maybe one day Tyler Durden and company might finally make it to the great white way... Maybe?

One thing to take off your "David Fincher to-do" list though, is "Rendezvous with Rama," an adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's influential novel that was set to star Morgan Freeman. In the past, Fincher has seemed cautiously optimistic, stating that the visual effects would have to be much cheaper for the film to be an option. Now he sounds like it's more or less cooked. "It's great but it's just a really expensive movie, and talk about the bones being picked by so many other stories..." We take that as a "no."

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" opens tomorrow night. Go with someone who's not easily offended.

This article is related to: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, David Fincher, Cleopatra, Angelina Jolie, Scott Rudin, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: Captain Nemo, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross


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