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David Fincher Q & A
This movie, at least on the surface, is a departure for you. Dealing with characters whose primary means of expression is verbal is not something you've had in your other movies – did you like that?

DAVID FINCHER: It was fine, but I think it's more like this – I don't know what directors are supposed to do except what the script wants. That's what the script was, and that's what it needed. Are you supposed to hoard your little corner of the Monopoly board? Are you supposed to say, I'm Park Place and this is what I do. That seems kind of dull.

The language is what's up front, but the thing that supports the language is the mouths out of which the language comes, the clothes on the bodies that carry the mouths from which the language comes, the houses and the rooms that the bodies inhabit. To me, the Chinese checkers of it is this: you get a couple of Aeron chairs and some computers, and the guys rattle off their dialogue in the way that they're supposed to. But the three dimensional chess of it is to try and steep the viewer in the world of the movie, and to do so in a way that's effortless for him. I knew that I needed to make the surroundings of everything – where these people are, what they're wearing, all those details – feel right for Harvard, and right for these kids and their expertise. The fun of it is not only to find a handful of really bright, incredibly watchable kids to say these lines, but also to forge a world around them that makes them look like the kind of kids that would be saying this stuff.

A world in which the events of the story are possible.

DAVID FINCHER: Yes – but also a world in which they're essential. Inevitable. You want to build the drama -- the inevitability of the fact that these kids can't be friends or the fact that they're going to have to divide the spoils – by seeing this place that they all come from, with its bad prefab furniture and scratchy sheets and fire alarms in the middle of the wall and fireplaces that don't work. A lot of people think of Harvard as being like Camelot, or Hogwarts – but it's not. Of course Harvard is old and it's stately, but physically it's really this odd, colonial, kind of re-fabbed and refurbished place where every 10 or 15 years more conduit gets put on the walls and it falls apart a little bit more. Visually, these kids do sort of come from nothing. Whatever their family life was like – and I'm sure the Winklevosses lived well – you're trying to find this level playing field where they all meet. Everybody is peering into what each other's personal strengths or deficits are but you're not really privy to that. You're not seeing the Winklevosses in a Grey Poupon commercial. And that was great, I thought.

When you read the script, did you know right away that this would be your approach? Did you immediately know how to do it?

DAVID FINCHER: No. Again, it's not that you "know” how to do it -- I don't have a map for how to get there, I don't necessarily know how to get through the woods -- but I know where there is. You know what I mean? It's not like you look at the thing and say, I've got to head east for a while and then I can cut back -- that's the reality of what you're presented with on a daily basis -- but you can see Mt. Kilimanjaro in the distance and you can know where that is. I can look at that and feel like I know these kids -- part of me is this guy, part of me is that guy. I know people like that, and I know what it's like to be that pissed off at somebody that you've known for so long, and I know what it's like to have that conversation where you go, This is where it ends. But any director that says they see the whole movie in their head is a liar.

Unlike other movies that you've done, you came into this one with what was very close to a finished script – and yet it's very obviously a David Fincher film. How did you achieve that?

DAVID FINCHER: I look at my job first and foremost as an interpreter. You're taking the written word and you're trying to have it make sense in terms of where people are in space, where they are in the frame, where they are in focus. I don't look at it as, Oh my God, I have to find a script where the lead character is from Marin County and grew up in the 70s. It would be just as boring for actors to do only what they know. I think you go into something like this and you say, Here's a situation and here's a group of people -- what do I know and what do I understand about this? What can I bring to this given situation? I've been Mark Zuckerberg – there are times in my life where I've acted that way. There are times in my life where I've been Eduardo Saverin – where I've gone and made a scene and regretted it and where I've been emotional and felt silly and stupid. And there are times when I've felt self-righteous and I've acted out in this other way. You look at the whole of it and you make a patchwork quilt of what you relate to -- what something looked like, what something felt like at a certain time -- and that's what you draw on. And then you go in, and you get really good people to bring their trip to it and you sort it out. I don't think there's any way not to put your stamp on a movie because you're basically editing behavior. That's your job. You're basically responding to a behavior and saying, I believe that or I don't believe that – and so you're going to, in some pretty basic way, inform how the people behave.

As a director, is that what makes every movie personal to you – or is it something unique to this one?

DAVID FINCHER: Look, what Mark does is no different than directing a movie – it's what I do for a living every day. You grow something, and your job is to grow it well and to make sure it gets enhanced and to take care of it. That's the subject of the movie. And if you have to hurt people's feelings in order to protect that thing, that's what you have to do. It's a responsibility.

You want to love every character in the movie. You want to be able to understand them. You want to be able to see what's there. You want to be able to see their humanity. You want to be able to relate to them. But, as a director, the characters' behaviors are inevitably related to facets of moments in your own life. You look at the work and say, Maybe I do know what that is.

I've been the angry young man. I've been Elvis Costello. I know what that's like. The anger is certainly something I felt that I could relate to -- the notion of being twenty-one and having a fairly clear notion of what it is you want to do or what it is you want to say and having all these people go, Well, we'd love to, we'd love you to try. Show us what it is that you want to do. It's that whole condescending thing of having to ask adults for permission because the perception is that you're too young to do it for yourself. And that's why I understood Mark's frustration. You have a vision of what this thing should be. And everyone wants to tell you, Oh, well, you're young. You'll see soon enough.

And the movie, on some level, is a testament to Mark's work ethic -- his relentless ability to execute that vision.

DAVID FINCHER: Right. Mark does what no one else in the movie does and he's the guy who reaps the rewards -- but he also pays a price. He was the one saying, Advertising? I don't know -- that's a way to go about it but I don't know if it's the only way. And I totally concur with that.

What is the movie saying about success? Is it something about the moment at which your fantasy of success collides with actual success?

DAVID FINCHER: It's hard for me to even im

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