Variety has been running an excellent series where people of the same Hollywood job calling do interviews with one another. We've seen actresses on actresses, actors on actors, and now taking over the directors on directors are Fincher and Affleck. 

They can't sit across from each other in real life, so we get to listen in on a Zoom that covers their past, future, projects, and parents. It's really an all-encompassing look at both their philosophies on directing and friendship. 

Check out the video below, and let's talk after the break. 

Ben Affleck and David Fincher Talk Mank, Directing, and Doing Lots of Takes

If you liked that video, you should read the transcript on Variety. I wanted to pull out a few quotes that I think our readers would really enjoy.

First, let's look at this exchange where Fincher talks about his pursuit of perfection. See, Mank was his father's first screenplay. And Fincher was coaching him through the topic and writing. 

Fincher: He wrote it by himself. And when he came back, he gave it to me, and I read it and it was a little bit more of WGA arbitration, posthumous arbitration that I was interested in. So I told him, and he was not upset, but he was certainly like, “Well, what more is there here?” I had just finished Alien 3.

Affleck: You were at your peak.

Fincher: Exactly. I was feeling my oats, having been sodomized ritualistically for two and a half years. I really, certainly, I wanted to spread my wings. He gave me this thing. I read it. And I said, “You know, I don’t think he got it.”

Affleck: Nice to know you treat your father like everyone else.

Fincher: To be perfectly honest, I didn’t get this out of nowhere, I got it from him. He was almost always the guy who was, gonna tell you—

Affleck: I appreciate it. I think it’s one of your finest qualities, you have very many, which is that you’re one of the few people on Earth I can count on for absolute honesty in every way.

Fincher: No matter how painful. I always immediately run through and I go, “Well does he need? He needs to hear this.” And then I just launched.

'Mank''Mank'Credit: Netflix

I love that Fincher got this relentless pursuit of perfection from his father. Another interesting part is when Affleck proposes a theory to Fincher about his competing instincts as a filmmaker.

“One is a very specific idea of how you think it will work the best and how you’d like it to be,” Affleck said. “And the other is this profound desire to discover something accidental, different, and new in the process.”

Fincher seems to embody those Affleck quotes, always challenging himself and his techniques at every level. 

At the end of the day, we're lucky we got to see Mank. As Fincher explains, no one besides Netflix would have done it.

"I don’t think so. I don’t blame anybody. Polygram and Universal had a shot in 1995, 1997 to make it and all the reasons, you know, they had output deals that wouldn’t allow for black and white and blah, blah. I get why they don’t appeal to everybody. This is a very niche concern, credit. Which is really one of the reasons why I never wanted the movie to be about the credit arbitration because it’s not of any interest." 

Of course, any conversation with Fincher always comes back to doing many takes. He is comfortable with them now, but that wasn't always the way.

He told Affleck, “It took me a while to get comfortable with the idea of saying, ‘Another one, and I want you to think about this.' So often, you’re pressed up against the glass going, ‘Please don’t take this the wrong way. I need you to come out, we’re going to try one more.’ It’s like Carrie said, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ You’re not doing anything wrong. We’re gonna do three weeks or at the rehearsal, we’re gonna do a table read, we’re gonna open out of town, we’re gonna have at least three previews. And we’re gonna do all that today before lunch with this master. We’re gonna go through all that so that you can get to a place where you go, ‘Yeah, I’ve tried this. I’ve tried that. No, really, it’s over here.’ And everyone can feel good about work. This is what we’re trying to tighten. This is the lump of coal that we’re going to try to turn into a diamond.”

'Gone Girl''Gone Girl'Credit: 20th Century Fox

For his part, Affleck talks about enjoying Fincher's process as an actor.

 "I love it," Affleck said. "I find it’s such a fucking relief to have a director go, 'No, no, no, no, no, we’re not. No, no, no, it’s that’s not that at all.' And you just go, 'Thank God, because I don’t have to spend half an hour going down this fucking road.' What is it that you’re interested in? One of the things I learned from directing myself is, as an actor, you don’t have to slavishly adhere to some specific vision, but you want to be on the same boat, as the director. And you really want to find out what that is and where it’s headed. You do actors a huge favor by being really honest with them about it. I think a lot of us are afraid because they think it will inhibit their process or make them self conscious. I just find it enormously freeing and read."

The whole exchange is worth your time and fascinating. I love hearing two guys with different personalities also unlocking their similar processes.

It's these kinds of exchanges and pull-quotes that keep us coming back for more. 

Let us know what you thought in the comments. 

Source: Variety