Witness the curious case of [movieperson id="79193"]David Fincher[/movieperson] — music video auteur turned embattled rookie helmer (his battles on [movie id="860"]“Alien3“[/movie] are the stuff of legend). The director who blew our minds by putting [movieperson id="48379"]Gwyneth Paltrow[/movieperson]‘s head in a box ([movie id="93840"]“Seven”[/movie]), convinced 20th Century Fox to make arguably the most subversive flick in the studio’s history ([movie id="136266"]“Fight Club”[/movie]) and, most recently, the guy who crafted the most absorbing procedural since the days of “All the President’s Men”: [movie id="275107"]“Zodiac.”[/movie]
Is it possible that the man whose first three films ended with suicides (or apparent suicides) has now made the touchy-feely tearjerker of the season? You’ll find out on Christmas Day when you queue up to watch [movieperson id="50260"]Brad Pitt[/movieperson] age backwards in the sweeping drama [movie id="280659"]“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”[/movie] (See exclusive photos of David Fincher on the set with Brad Pitt here.)
MTV News chatted with the usually reticent, media-shy director to talk about why he chose not to turn Brad Pitt into a baby, whether “Fight Club” will ever become a musical and why he’s waiting for a phone call from [artist id="501686"]Britney Spears[/artist].
MTV: “Benjamin Button” clearly is a big Oscar contender. Did the ceremony ever mean much to you growing up?
David Fincher: I liked the Oscars when I was a kid because it was the only chance to see clips of R-rated movies. My parents were not about to let me — with my fertile imagination and predisposition towards violence — see “The Godfather” or “The Exorcist.” I love what it stands for, but it didn’t seem as political back then.
MTV: It took a long time for this film to reach the screen and it very nearly was made by a host of talented filmmakers.
Fincher: I have no idea what Spike [Jonze] would have done with it. He tried to explain to me this incredibly intimate character piece that he was going to do for a relatively modest [budget]. I would have seen that movie.
MTV: One thing that struck me about the film is it really is just as much Daisy’s [[movieperson id="181990"]Cate Blanchett[/movieperson]] story as Benjamin’s.
Fincher: Yeah, I think so. I always say everyone was lucky enough to be in a Cate Blanchett movie. [He laughs.]
MTV: We finish the story with her because, after all, Brad Pitt can’t play a baby at the end.
Fincher: We were prepared to do that.
MTV: You mean have Brad play the baby?
Fincher: We just ran out of money. We could have made him into a baby. Anything you want to do, you can do now.
MTV: You also use another actor to portray him as a boy near the end. Did you consider using Brad for that?
Fincher: I debated it a long time. I always felt that it was a coin toss. If we could get the money to do him as a 12-year-old, I would have done him as a 12-year-old.
MTV: Do the [movie id="90262"]“Forrest Gump”[/movie] comparisons bother you?
Fincher: “Forrest Gump”? What’s that? Instead of the ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances, I thought of [Benjamin] as an extraordinary man in very ordinary circumstances. I don’t know how much an audience can relate to a guy who’s aging backwards that ends up looking like Brad Pitt. My whole thing from the beginning has been that it’s not high concept. The reason it’s relatable is how it’s dramatized. Everybody remembers their first kiss and hangover and person they fell in love with.
MTV: You told me a year ago you wanted to bring “Fight Club” to Broadway as a musical .
Fincher: It would be great.
MTV: Do you think it will happen?
Fincher: It’s too expensive. I really don’t know. I’ve talked to [director] Julie Taymor and she sort of talked me down. I talked to [producer] Scott Rudin about it. I wanted to get him involved. He just laughed.
MTV: Did Trent Reznor ever write music for it?
Fincher: No. He’s interested in it. He wanted to know more about what it was going to be. I saw it as being like a rock show — a lot of projection, a lot of computer-generated imagery, a lot of conveyor belts. It was really cinematic but really twisted.
MTV: Why haven’t we ever seen you direct a superhero film? You must have been offered a few.
Fincher: I’ve been talked to about different things. They talked to me about [movie id="212984"]“Spider-Man.”[/movie] Obviously they made the right choice there.
MTV: None got you excited?
Fincher: No. There’s so little dialogue in comic-book movies that isn’t about narrative, where you have to be next and how to get the talisman and why it has to be in a lead-lined box or whatever. I loved that stuff as an 8-year-old but I was pretty much over it by the time I was 11.
MTV: You came from music videos. Do you ever get calls from people like Britney Spears to direct their videos?
Fincher: I don’t. My phone lies dust-covered.
MTV: Do you know what you’re doing next?
Fincher: I’ve just spent five years pushing a rock up the Paramount mountain and I’m perfectly happy to do a short for an anthology and some television commercials. I’m just going to keep checking [to see] if Britney Spears calls.
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”
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