NEW YORK – Now this is an unexpected trio to interview at one time: Emmy winner and top awards show host Neil Patrick Harris, veteran character actress Kim Dickens (“Treme,” “Deadwood”) and the man who is his own category, Tyler Perry. The three had converged – well, let's be honest, 20th Century Fox put them in a room together – to discuss their critically acclaimed new film “Gone Girl.”
Based on Gillian Flynn's best-selling novel and directed by legendary filmmaker David Fincher, “Gone Girl” is primarily the story of a woman who goes missing (Rosamund Pike) and her husband who becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance (Ben Affleck). What Fincher does so smartly, however, is surround his two leads with an incredible ensemble, which includes Harris, Perry and Dickens as well as Carrie Coon, Patrick Fugit, Missi Pyle, Casey Wilson and Emily Ratajkowski (who hasn't received enough notice for her small but important role). On this day, however, the aforementioned trio were on hand to praise Fincher for something he's rarely anointed as: an “actor's” director.
Harris, who recently won a Tony Award for his performance in the revival of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” was the most passionate about his time working with Fincher. Let him wax on about his experience, won't you?
“I've worked with directors before who have a real plan for a scene,” he says in the video interview above. “They've either got a shortlist already or they have storyboarded it that they know exactly what they are filming, and then they are just crossing their fingers that when they are rehearsing with the actors, they will just fall in line. So, that's a weird sort of dynamic. David gets the actors together and it's just his script supervisor, sort of his number two, and we talk about the scene. And he has ideas. He's very open to the discussion, should you stand or should you sit, and normally they are long scenes. In 'Gone Girl,' especially. The ones I was working on. So for 45 minutes or an hour you would practice and come up with it like a play. And once it was done and he was happy he would bring in the team – the cinematographer and all the crew members – and we would show him the scene. And then like an artist, a sculptor, he would just rattle off the day's works. He would just say, 'It's gonna be a 35 [lens] on this side. It's gonna be matched to a 50 over there…' And the script supervisor is just taking down ferocious notes. And that would be the day. And I would just stand there in awe and watch him do that.”
Perry jokes that Fincher is like a little “Rain Man” on set, but completely agrees with Harris' take.
“He's not just painting beautiful pictures and trying to tell a great story, he's very much in the act,” Perry says. “A very nurturing, supporting, 'How do you feel? What do you think of this? What if we try it this way?' I think for actors it allows them the comfort to create, but the comfort to be in the character and let the character live through them. I absolutely agree with that. He's a great actor's director.”
Dickens adds, “He knows all the characters. He could play them, too. He could do everything. All the departments. It's not an exaggeration. He's that prolific. It's so fun for an actor.”
For more on the actors' thoughts on Fincher, the comedic elements of the movie and what it really has to say about marriage, watch the complete interview at the top of this post.
“Gone Girl” opens nationwide on Friday.