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We Read It: Casting David Fincher's Potential Next Movie 'Gone Girl'

by Oliver Lyttelton
March 15, 2013 2:44 PM
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It's been in the works for a while now, but according to Deadline last night, geek favorite David Fincher is inching closer to signing on to an adaptation of Gillian Flynn's novel "Gone Girl." The novel, by the former EW staffer who already had some success with thrillers "Sharp Objects" and "Dark Places" (which are also both being developed for movies), was snapped up by Reese Witherspoon not long after publication, and rave reviews and word of mouth have seen it become a literary phenomenon over the last year or so. Even if you haven't read it yourself, you probably know plenty of people who have, or at least have been on a subway car full of people carrying it.

And rightly so. Flynn is the real deal, and the book is dark, twisty and genuinely well-written (even if we'd argue she doesn't quite stick the landing this time out). The story (narrated by dueling protagonists) is set in Carthage, Missouri, where thirtysomething married couple Nick and Amy have moved from New York. On the surface they're a golden couple, but one day Amy disappears without a trace, with evidence of a violent struggle at their home. Nick becomes the prime suspect, but insists he didn't do it. Can the reader trust him? Can they trust Amy, whose own narration has been filling in the backstory? 

It's enough to keep you up into the wee hours, and it's little wonder that Fincher's interest is serious. With Witherspoon producing rather than starring, we thought it seemed like a good time to examine some of the actors and actresses who we think would be good contenders to play Nick and Amy in the "Gone Girl." Take a look below, and you can weigh in with your own picks in the comments section.

Describing himself at one point as having "a face you want to punch; I'm a working-class Irish kid trapped in the body of a total trust-fund douchebag. I smile a lot to make up for my face, but this only sometimes works," Nick is 34, a reasonably successful magazine journalist who became a victim of the recession. As a result, he's moved back home to Carthage, Missouri, to open a bar with his sister, only for his wife of six years to disappear mysteriously, with Nick the natural suspect. Handsome and charming, he's also deeply selfish and eager to please, to a fault. As with the other principal role, you need an actor who can play things close to his chest, not giving away whether Nick is a stone-cold killer, or an innocent caught up in someone else's plot.

Bradley Cooper
Bradley Cooper
Already a popular choice among fans of the book, Cooper would seem to be in a very strong position at this stage, thanks to the success of "Silver Linings Playbook," which earned him an Oscar nomination and made him a hotter prospect than ever before. There's always been something faintly sinister and jockish about his presence (see "Wedding Crashers"), and that ambivalence could work out nicely. At 38 (and close to 40 by the time the film comes out), he's on the older side of the potentials (problematic if the film keeps with the age difference in the book -- Amy is older -- which adds nice character texture to the relationship), but otherwise a solid choice.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Thanks to "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Looper," few actors are more in demand right now that Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and aside from "Sin City 2," he's yet to pick another role, and he'd be sure to jump at the chance to work with Fincher. And while he's never picked up awards attention, he proved long ago with things like "Mysterious Skin" that he's got the acting chops. The biggest problem may be age -- though he's 32 now, Gordon-Levitt looks younger (he played a college student as recently as "Lincoln"), which would make it harder to sell some of the twistier plot elements of the story. Definitely an option, though.

PHOTO Jake Gyllenhaal In Talks To Star In 'The Way, Way Back' Directed By 'The Descendants' Team Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Jake Gyllenhaal
Gyllenhaal gave probably the best performance of his career with Fincher in "Zodiac," and the actor's a good fit for the part. He's about the right age (32), plus he has the right mix of moral ambivalence, smarts and looks. But he's not the biggest box office draw around, so may not be a studio favorite. And perhaps more importantly, may not be Fincher's either. Gyllenhaal was open about his difficulties with Fincher's process on the earlier film, and Fincher was less than apologetic about it. Could bad blood still linger? Or would they be able to put the past behind them now that it's been almost seven years since they last worked together?

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  • Pete | July 22, 2014 4:52 PMReply

    Witherspoon was going to star in the film but she decided to produce it instead apparently she felt the role wasn't right for her and she had already committed to another project that started filming around the same time. Reese is talented but I wish she did more suspense/thrillers instead of the typical rom coms/drama films.

  • Leanna | July 27, 2013 6:24 AMReply

    YES, Amy Adams for Amy please! She is exactly how I pictured Amy as in the book. She can pull it off. I already imagine the Veronica Lake like waves and the sweet demeanor turning dark in the middle of the movie. Adams can do exactly that.

  • Julia | April 26, 2013 10:54 AMReply

    Where is Charlize Theron in this??? She would be perfect!

  • Alex | April 11, 2013 11:58 PMReply

    I still wish Reese Witherspoon was going to star in this, she has that perky/menacing thing down pat (Election). If not Reese, I would love to see Michelle Williams or Rachel McAdams get it. They are both great in everything. For the male lead, Bradley Cooper would be perfect. If not him, someone like James Marsden or looks-wise, Josh Duhamel, would fit.

  • MM | April 11, 2013 11:40 AMReply

    Yes! Totally sold on Cooper and Adams as Nick and Amy! Perfect!

  • simcarter@chapter1-take1 | March 19, 2013 4:59 PMReply

    I am just 'gobsmacked' that Ryan Gosling hasn't even made your back up list. What the what?! Would love to know Y? I would def go for Gosling as Nick with Jessica Chastain as Amy. He's younger, 32 while she's 36. Certainly no one doubts her ability to go dark?
    Maybe Gosling will get another look after Place Beyond the Pines comes out.

  • Blartug | March 19, 2013 3:50 PMReply

    Thank god Witherspoon isn't starring in this.

  • Blartug | March 19, 2013 3:49 PMReply

    Thank god Witherspoon isn't starring in this.

  • E.K. | March 18, 2013 12:23 PMReply

    Gyllenhaal still acts too young. Mostly it's his voice, which is the same in every work of his I've seen. He needs to change it up, adapt it to suit his characters.

    I also respectfully disagree that Zodiac has been his best performance. I had been excited by him after seeing him in Donnie Darko and Brokeback Mountain, but in Zodiac I unfortunately felt that Robert Downey, Jr.'s and Mark Ruffalo's natural and charismatic performances stood in stark contrast to Gyllenhaal's slightly self-conscious presence. Perhaps he was merely miscast, or perhaps I saw the result of the strained working relationship with Fincher. Either way, a Fincher-Gyllenhaal collaboration is not something I want to see again anytime soon.

    Gosling is an enjoyable actor, but does not have the depth.

    Gordon-Levitt could be very interesting. He has the chops, the looks, the charm, and the ability to play it "close to the chest" (see his emotionally detached character and tightly focused performance in Brick) with an ambiguous darkness (see Manic).

  • JK1193 | March 16, 2013 10:09 PMReply

    Between McAvoy and Renner; and Blunt and Chastain. Blunt can be Americana, as her flawless Kansas accent in Looper has proven.

  • Alex | March 16, 2013 6:48 PMReply

    McAvoy and Mara seem like a good combination.

  • caro | March 18, 2013 1:36 PM

    unless you change the book,it doesn't work :Amy is older than Nick

  • luke | March 16, 2013 1:48 PMReply

    rachel mcadams, would be very good cast for the movie I envision her as amy

  • PTP | March 16, 2013 10:33 AMReply

    Nick: Eric Bana , Cillian Murphy, Michael Fassbender, Armie Hammer, Patrick Wilson, Sebastian Stan, Joseph Morgan, Tom Hardy, Christian Bale, Peter Sarsgaard, and James McAvoy, and Dominic Cooper.

    Amy: Emily Blunt ( she shines whenever she goes the dark route ) , Naomi Watts ( Reese Witherspoon raved about her performance in " The Impossible " ) , Anne Hathaway ( Rachel Getting Married & TDKR proved she can be both dark and edgy ) , Ruth Wilson, and Andrea Riseborough.

    No: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Bradley Cooper, Tobey Maguire, Joseph Gordon Levitt, and the very mediocre Channing Tatum are all too boyish and not manly. Henry Cavill has good looks, but no substance and no acting ability. Benedict Cumberbatch is a gifted actor, but he always comes across as cold and deadly-no sweetness and no likableness. Justin Timberlake is likable on SNL, but in his movies, you can see Timberlake struggle to give decent performances. He was weak and barely had a pulse in The Social Network, In Time, and Friends With Benefits . When it comes to acting, this guy doesn't deserve his media hype.

    The Amy character has to be warm, dark and edgy. Michelle Williams is bland and boring with no dark edge ( and no charisma and no star power ) . Williams' forte is portraying very wounded and vulnerable characters. Rooney Mara is always cold on film ( also in her interviews ) , and their is no warmth to her.

  • NORYAN? | March 16, 2013 7:39 AMReply

    No Ryan Gosling? What the hell?!

  • Lou | March 16, 2013 1:45 PM

    In a replica of All Good Things? What a bore.

  • asiandude | March 16, 2013 7:33 AMReply

    From these choices, my ideal choice would be James McAvoy & Amy Adams =) Second is Brad, Emily.

    But just curious, did any1 think of GOOP??? I kinda like her in "Contagion". Though, she can be too polarizing.

  • Alan B | March 16, 2013 5:26 AMReply

    Also, an IMDb user suggested Seyfied for reasons that are strange, but awesome: "I was picturing Amanda Seyfried the whole time as Amy, just because I saw the movie "Gone" maybe six months ago, and had recently heard about Gone Girl on the radio, but didn't pay enough attention to catch if it was a book or a movie, and so when "Gone" showed up from netflix, I was thinking it might have been what I had heard about on the radio. So since then I've just associated the two even though they really have nothing to do with each other." I am pretty sure this is how Madeleine Stowe got her role in 'Revenge'.

  • Alan B | March 16, 2013 5:27 AM

    Make this happen, Fincher. Now!

  • Alan B | March 16, 2013 4:52 AMReply

    "Chastain's a once-in-a-generation talent" Oh. My. God. I like Chastain fine. She's clearly a technically proficient actress with both emotional and physical range. However, your statement has to be one of the most ridiculously hyperbolic statements I can remember about an actor. Brando was a once-in-a-generation talent, as were Day-Lewis, Olivier and Streep. The likes of Brando and Olivier changed the way actors looked at their craft, whilst Day-Lewis and Streep have delivered extraordinary work for decades. In all honesty, does anyone really believe that Chastain deserves to be compared to those actors? Not to say that she couldn't be that good. But wait 10-20 years before making such an outlandish declaration. When someone declares - without irony - that Chastain is "once-in-a-generation talent" they do nothing but damage their own credibility as a writer.

  • Alan B | March 17, 2013 7:54 PM

    Well, Gerard, if we include Blanchett and Chastain in the same "generation" (as well as Winslet), it's even more difficult to accept The Playlist's claim. Chastain is the shiny new toy that all critics are fighting over because she's new and therefore "exciting". Remember when Vera Farmiga was THE actress? "Vera Farmiga may have her next Oscar nominated role in the bag," The Playlist once breathlessly declared of one - unmade - film project.

  • gerard | March 17, 2013 12:56 PM

    Agreed. Their is nothing about Chastain that reminds of Streep. Cate Blanchett reminds me of Streep.

  • Anne | March 16, 2013 1:22 AMReply

    Agreed with the comments stating that the actresses mentioned here are too young for the role of Amy. When I read the book I initially pictured Amy Adams, but then Amy (in the book) morphed into Naomi Watts, particularly when her true character was slowly revealed. She was very reminiscent of Betty in Mulholland Drive.

    As for Nick, I like the idea of Patrick Wilson in the role. He has those corn-fed/Midwestern/aw shucks good looks, and has the acting chops to toe the lines between worried spouse, emasculated husband, AND prime suspect.

  • Lynne | March 16, 2013 3:16 PM

    Definitely Wilson and Adams would be perfect for these roles.

  • caro | March 16, 2013 9:14 AM

    +1 on all

  • Amy | March 15, 2013 11:24 PMReply

    Of the choices listed above, my ideal pairing would definitely be Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams. For Nick, I would also suggest Zachary Knighton (from "Happy Endings"), who I think has the exact right look for the part.

  • Susan | March 15, 2013 7:02 PMReply

    Theron and Fassbender.

  • | March 16, 2013 9:16 AM

    Theron and Fassbender are too good-looking and gloomy

  • asiandude | March 16, 2013 7:27 AM

    IDK, man. Fassbender doesn't strike me as having this type of sweet, likable, prince charming handsome style. He fits more dangerous looking guy. I kinda dig Bradley Cooper & James McAvoy suggestion. Tbf, I don't see Rooney Mara for this - she's too innocent looking, she looks like 25 or even younger. Emily Blunt, Rebecca Hall can look older , with the right makeup, can convincingly look mid-thirties. Andrea Riseborough also has that quality where she can disappear (looks-wise) in different characters, she can go from W.E. to Made in Magenham (did I spell correctly?) to Happy-go-Lucky (and to a certain extent since I havent seen the movie, Oblivion) quite easily too.

    We also have to consider chemistry too.

  • Chad | March 15, 2013 11:31 PM


  • Liz | March 15, 2013 4:43 PMReply

    I'm really surprised Charlize Theron isn't even mentioned (outside of the Amy Adams blurb). She's the right age, and she seems like the perfect fit for it. She, McAdams, and Chastain were my first thoughts when I was reading the book.

  • Really?!? | March 15, 2013 4:37 PMReply

    The fact that Ryan Gosling isn't even an honorable mention is flabbergasting. Nick is blonde by the way.

  • BEF | March 15, 2013 4:04 PMReply

    Is there a reason that Witherspoon isn't on this list? Couldn't she be producing for, y'know, herself?

  • | March 19, 2013 4:54 PM

    Originally she was also attached to star but just dropped out a few days ago.

  • BEF | March 15, 2013 4:06 PM

    Is it a given that she's not starring? Brad Pitt was only going to produce The Tree of Life y'know and DiCaprio had a few that he stepped in on when he wasn't going to.

  • Melissa | March 15, 2013 3:47 PMReply

    Blunt was rumored for the role a few months ago.

  • Damian | March 15, 2013 3:19 PMReply

    Maggie Gyllenhaal?

  • petra | March 15, 2013 3:01 PMReply

    Most of these choices are too young, imo. Amy's 38 and the fact that she's insecure about her age is important. As is the fact that there actually IS a character in her 20's who will lose some of her effectiveness if there's not a contrast between her and Amy.

  • Roark | March 15, 2013 2:57 PMReply

    Hopefully they don't age Amy down - I'd argue her insecurity about aging, and how she thinks Nick sees her as she ages, is actually a pretty big part of her character.

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