Fincher Reflects on ‘Zodiac’ Set Tension with Gyllenhaal: ‘He Was Distracted’ by ‘Jarhead’

Jake Gyllenhaal summed up his experience with David Fincher's 2007 serial killer drama "Zodiac" when he told the New York Times prior to the film's release that Fincher "paints with people" and that it "can be difficult to be a color" . The actor alluded to tensions arising from Fincher's demanding directing style, in which Gyllenhaal performed up to 70 takes of certain scenes. In a recent interview with The Times on the occasion of the publication of "Mank", Fincher became honest about the tension that existed with Gyllenhaal and described what went on as an "extremely simple" situation.
"Jake was in the enviable position of being very young and of having many people vying for his attention while working for someone who did not allow them a day off," said Fincher. “I think you have to have everything outside of your peripheral vision. I think Jake's philosophy was shaped by - look, he'd made a number of films as a kid, but I don't think he was ever asked to focus on the little things, and I think he was very distracted. "
Fincher stated that "Zodiac" began filming when Gyllenhaal's war film "Jarhead" opened and pushed the actor into the blitz of the awards season. The director said, “He had a lot of people whispering that 'Jarhead' was going to be that massive movie and get it into this other league, and every weekend he was pulled to go to the Santa Barbara Film Festival and the Palm Springs Film Festival and the Catalina Film Festival. And when he showed up for work he was very scattered. "
"His managers and his goofy agents all came to his trailer for lunch to talk to him about the cover of GQ and this and that," Fincher continued. “He was nibbled to death by ducks and not very smart ducks. They came into his vision and it was hard for him to hit the fastball. "
Fincher noted that the tension with Gyllenhaal largely subsided by the end of production, and that Gyllenhaal even apologized. The director admitted, “There are definitely times when I can be confrontational when I see someone wear off,” but added, “People go through tough times all the time. I do. So I try to be compassionate. But. It is: four. Hundred. Thousand. Dollar. A day. And we may not have a chance to come back and do it again. "
"I tell actors all the time, I'm not going to cut around your hangover, I'm not going to cut around your dying dog, I'm not going to cut around the fact that you just fired your agent, or your agent I just fired you" Fincher concluded. "When you got here, it just matters to me, did we tell the story?"
In the 13 years since "Zodiac" opened in theaters, the film has become a crown jewel in Fincher and Gyllenhaal's filmographies. Visit the New York Times website to learn more about Fincher's most recent interview.
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