Why Was Gary Oldman Exhausted on 'Mank'?

'Mank'
'Mank'Credit: Netflix
How was Gary Oldman's Mank experience? 

We all know David Fincher's reputation for working his cast and crew extremely hard, but it's hard to argue with the results.

With rave reviews, people are already talking about Mank taking Hollywood's top prize. Speaking to Total Film recently, Fincher and his cast talked about the process of creating the film.

"It was exhausting in the beginning, I think, for [Oldman]," Fincher said. "Because I’m fairly didactic about, ‘These are the things that the scene needs to accomplish for me, and we will continue to play, to look for ways to underline these ideas that are as subtle as we can make them.'"

I read that as intriguing. Without seeing the film, it's hard to know what ideas Fincher is dialing in on with Oldman's performance. 

Fincher continued, “It’s a hard thing to say to actors, ‘I want a cohesive, great performance in the master [shot]. And then I want a cohesive, great performance in the alternate master. And then I want a cohesive, great performance in the over-the-shoulder. And I want a cohesive, great performance in his over-the-shoulder onto you. And then I want the singles.’ Because I don’t want to cut a scene based on where you are at personally on Tuesday. I don’t think I could go into the edit room knowing that I was going to have to cut around somebody who didn’t deliver. Part of it is you cast really great people and get the fuck out of the way!”

'Mank'
'Mank'Credit: Netflix

It's easy to see how a laborious schedule with lots of takes could wear on the star of the movie, but Oldman's exhaustion was echoed by Charles Dance, who plays William Randolph Hearst in the movie.

Dance told Total Film, “We did take after take after take after take. [...] And [Oldman] said to David at one point, ‘David, I’ve done this scene a hundred fucking times.’ And Fincher said, ‘Yeah, I know, but this is 101. Reset!’”

Well, we knew we couldn't get a Fincher story without mentioning how much he loves doing over 100 takes of certain scenes, but they always seem to pay off in the end. Fincher's singular working style seems fitting for Mank, which is a movie about obsession and getting the results you want no matter the cost. 

Mank was released in a limited theatrical release on Nov. 13, 2020, and will stream on Netflix on Dec. 4, 2020.     

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“It’s a hard thing to say to actors, ‘I want a cohesive, great performance in the master [shot]. And then I want a cohesive, great performance in the alternate master. And then I want a cohesive, great performance in the over-the-shoulder. And I want a cohesive, great performance in his over-the-shoulder onto you. And then I want the singles.’ Because I don’t want to cut a scene based on where you are at personally on Tuesday. I don’t think I could go into the edit room knowing that I was going to have to cut around somebody who didn’t deliver.”

This is literally just a description of what every director is trying to accomplish on every project... right? Like, even if you suck, this is just a basic description of the goals of a director, right?

November 16, 2020 at 7:05PM

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