David Fincher Comments on Jake Gyllenhaal ‘Zodiac’ Feud: ‘He Was Very Distracted’

David Fincher and Jake Gyllenhaal are said to have had a tense dynamic on set of 2007’s Zodiac. In an interview after the serial killer film wrapped, Gyllenhaal hinted he didn’t have a good relationship with the Fight Club director. Now, Fincher is clearing the air.

David Fincher and Jake Gyllenhaal backstage during A Celebration of David Fincher during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on January 30, 2009 | Rebecca Sapp/WireImage
David Fincher and Jake Gyllenhaal backstage during A Celebration of David Fincher during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on January 30, 2009 | Rebecca Sapp/WireImage

Jake Gyllenhaal shaded David Fincher in a 2007 interview

In a 2007 interview with The New York Times after Zodiac wrapped, Gyllenhaal said the Fight Club director wasn’t easy to work with. He said he “paints with people” and that “it’s tough to be a color.”

“I wish I could’ve had the maturity to be like: ‘I know what he wants. He wants the best out of me,'” the Brokeback Mountain alum shared. He then noted how frustrating it was to do the countless number of takes Fincher was famous for demanding.

“What’s so wonderful about movies is, you get your shot,” Gyllenhaal explained. “They even call it a shot. The stakes are high. You get your chance to prove what you can do. You get a take, 5 takes, 10 takes. Some places, 90 takes. But there is a stopping point. There’s a point at which you go, ‘That’s what we have to work with.’ But we would reshoot things. So there came a point where I would say, well, what do I do? Where’s the risk?”

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David Fincher was ‘totally shocked’ by Jake Gyllenhaal’s complaints

Fincher replied to Gyllenhaal’s complaints, telling The New York Times, “I hate earnestness in performance. Usually by Take 17 the earnestness is gone.”

Collaboration, the Se7en director said, “has to come from a place of deep knowledge. When you go to your job, is it supposed to be fun, or are you supposed to get stuff done?”

He later added that he “adored the cast” and felt lucky to have them in the cast, but Gyllenhaal’s comments about reshoots “totally shocked” him.

Also in Zodiac was Robert Downey Jr., who told the outlet that Fincher was hard to work with, but he wanted to get it right.

“I just decided, aside from several times I wanted to garrote him, that I was going to give him what he wanted,” the Avengers star said. “I think I’m a perfect person to work for him  because I understand gulags.”

David Fincher | Tiziana Fabi/Getty Images

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David Fincher says the Jake Gyllenhaal ‘Zodiac’ feud was an ‘extremely simple’ situation

In a new interview with The New York Times, Fincher cleared the air on the drama.

“Jake was in the unenviable position of being very young and having a lot of people vie for his attention, while working for someone who does not allow you to take a day off,” he said. “I believe you have to have everything out of your peripheral vision….I don’t think he’d ever been asked to concentrate on minutiae, and I think he was very distracted.”

“He had a lot of people whispering that Jarhead was going to be this massive movie and put him in this other league,” Fincher continued. “And every weekend he was being pulled to go to the Santa Barbara film festival and the Palm Springs film festival and the [expletive] Catalina film festival. And when he’d show up for work, he was very scattered.”

The Social Network director did note that he knows his methods can feel antagonistic.

“I don’t want to make excuses for my behavior,” he said. “There are definitely times when I can be confrontational if I see someone slacking. People go through rough patches all the time. I do. So I try to be compassionate about it. But. It’s: Four. Hundred. Thousand. Dollars. A day. And we might not get a chance to come back and do it again.”