June 17, 2020

Fincher Made Amanda Seyfried Film the Same Scene for a Week

David Fincher is legendary for the number of takes he requires for scenes. And his legend grows on Mank...

The legend of David Fincher is one of a man with particular tastes and needs, like the idea that people should do dozens of takes of the same scene in a row. He does this to exhaust the actor and get them to live in the role and to deliver it naturally. This is his style. If you work with him, you know this happens. 

And yet...every time we hear about it we end up wondering if that's the best way to work and if that actually gets the best performance. 

Fincher's new film, Mank, tells the story behind Orson Welles' writing and making of Citizen Kane, with his writing partner Herman J. Mankiewicz. 

The film also stars Amanda Seyfried, who plays Hollywood starlet Marion Davies. Collider got a chance to speak with the actress about her upcoming horror film You Should Have Left. In the interview, Seyfriend mentioned working with Fincher. 

This is what she had to say...

"Honestly, it is the hardest I’ve ever worked. But I am so thrilled with it. First of all, it came out of nowhere. Then I spoke with David Fincher … I had to download Zoom. Didn’t know what it was. And I spoke to him for like an hour and a half hour about it, the script. I was pretty sure I was going to do it, but I didn’t know, it was up to him. But I was just also like, how the fuck am I going to play Marion Davies? She had the accent. And how many takes? All of that stuff swarmed in. But I was also like, this is such a get – to work with Fincher he’s one of a kind. And I actually can’t believe we did it. And we finished on February 21st, right before the quarantine. I can’t believe it. And I was doing three movies back-to-back, so each blended into the next and my head wasn’t was on straight. I was flying to LA on weekends and doing rehearsals with David and Gary Arliss and all the cast. And then like going back in for my other movies, It was great. And uh, yeah, it’s going to be amazing."

That all seems "normal" but here's the part that stood out...

"…I was part of scenes with tons of people in it and we would do it for an entire week. I can’t tell you how many takes we did, but I would guess 200, maybe I could be wrong and could be way off. Um, I could be underestimating by five days of one scene when I didn’t have one line… ‘You think I can just relax?’ No, because there are probably about nine or 10 different camera angles that had been on me at one point."

That sounds so stressful!

Fincher is an auteur and likes to have things go his way, so it's not crazy to think all these details are true. Still, you have to feel bad for the actors knowing this legend, showing up on set, and having to deal with those expectations. 

You want to give your best performance, but I can imagine it burns you out quickly. I for one, cannot wait to see the finished product and Seyfried's role. She's already one of our best actresses and Fincher has the uncanny ability to get the best out of everyone. Even i it takes a while. 

Mank is rumored to drop on Netflix in October. 

Let the wait begin!      

Your Comment

7 Comments

Counter point. Stop romanticizing shitting behaviour.

June 17, 2020 at 2:36PM

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Nicholas Bradford-Ewart
Director/Producer/DP
166

Yes x1000

June 17, 2020 at 2:40PM

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That’s outrageous and abusive. If you need a week to shoot a single scene, you’re incompetent. This is not incompetence. This is taking a cue from Kubrick’s handbook of torturing actors. Fincher knows exactly what he’s doing, and I mean that in the worst way possible. Completely unacceptable.

June 17, 2020 at 7:34PM

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Totally agree. This behavior should be reported and he should be fined by the DGA, if possible. That’s nothing other than deliberate abuse of the cast and crew so he can go on a power trip and pretend he’s a perfectionist.

June 17, 2020 at 8:55PM

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200 takes over 5 days is 40 takes a day. Assuming 10 hours of shooting per day, that's 4 takes per hour. For a complicated party scene with multiple actors. That....doesn't seem like an especially torturous work environment. That seems like he's moving at a modest pace so as not to overwork people. We also have no idea how important this scene is in the film. For context, the opening of The Social Network (in the bar) took 99 takes over two days....and it's brilliant.

June 17, 2020 at 11:48PM

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Seven - one of my top movie

June 18, 2020 at 4:58AM

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DonJohn
95

Shocking! Having to work for a full week! Astounding resilience she showed having to stand around and not say anything for an entire week! Such endurance as she sat in her trailer while hundreds of people worked tirelessly for years to make a movie she was barely in. What strength of character she must have.

June 18, 2020 at 12:18PM

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