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Fincher Talks Critics, Expectations & Dragon Tattoo; Says Films Are Never Finished, Only Abandoned

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood December 7, 2011 at 2:34PM

David Fincher is doing the rounds talking about his adaptation of Stieg Larsson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (December 21). Don't be fooled though: the director doesn't like talking up his movies at all. (Wired barely squeezed a takeout from their set visit.) After the review embargo drama, Fincher told the Miami Herald that he sides with producer Scott Rudin: "There is a business to letting people know your movie is coming out. It is not a charity business," Fincher said. "It is a business-business," adding that "when you agree to go see something early and you give your word – as silly as that may sound in the information age and the movie business – there is a certain expectation."
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Rooney Mara as "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
Rooney Mara as "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

David Fincher is doing the rounds talking about his adaptation of Stieg Larsson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (December 21). Don't be fooled though: the director doesn't like talking up his movies at all. (Wired barely squeezed a takeout from their set visit.) After the review embargo drama, Fincher told the Miami Herald that he sides with producer Scott Rudin: "There is a business to letting people know your movie is coming out. It is not a charity business," Fincher said. "It is a business-business," adding that "when you agree to go see something early and you give your word – as silly as that may sound in the information age and the movie business – there is a certain expectation."

However, Fincher says that if it were up to him, "I wouldn’t show movies to anybody before they were released,"and that "the New York Film Critics Circle would not have seen this movie and then we would not be in this situation." While he does value film critics, he thinks it unfortunate that they've become driven by scoops. "The most valuable film critics are usually those people who come see a movie with their Blackberry and then text their friends 'It sucked.' or 'It’s awesome. You should see it.' You know what I mean?" (THR's Todd McCarthy explains why review embargoes are necessary.)

Fincher doesn't mind praising his film's leading badass, Lisbeth Salander, but he does worry how Millennium Trilogy fans will respond to the changes he's made to the story. In this New York Times piece, they confirm that the film makes some changes to the book's ending. Fincher calls these "reimaginings, compressions and reductions.” While Salander (played by soon-to-be-famous Rooney Mara) is a badass/punk/goth poster girl, Fincher insists it's not in the Hot Topic or Joan Jett sense: "It’s original punk. She has created a way to be seen as trash. Part of that is a stay-away thing, and part of it is a self-conscious agreement with what everyone thinks of her. She thinks, ‘I’ll live with that if it means no one ever takes advantage of me.’”

Fincher wanted Mara, but had many voices giving their two cents about who they felt should play the Salander character. “She’s one of those characters, like Jesus Christ, Dracula and Batman, that everyone has his own ideas about who should play them.” The pair seem equally pleased with one another post-shoot. Mara says of Fincher: “He’s in control of every single thing you see in the movie, and yet somehow I never felt controlled. I can’t imagine anyone else like him.”

As for his reputation for being a perfectionist, he responds: “Movies are living things. They evolve. They’re never finished, just abandoned.”

This article is related to: Directors, Franchises, Headliners, Critics, Box Office, Interviews


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.