David Fincher Opens Up About Working with a 'Very Distracted' Jake Gyllenhaal on Zodiac Set
"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," the director said
While speaking with The New York Times for a recent interview to discuss his new Netflix film, Mank, the 58-year-old famed film director touched upon his time spent working with Gyllenhaal, 39, on the 2007 thriller that follows the true story of the Zodiac Killer.
Describing the ordeal between the two as "an extremely simple" situation, Fincher told the publication, "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."
Then noting that as a director he feels that "you have to have everything out of your peripheral vision," Fincher added of the star, "... I don't think he'd ever been asked to concentrate on minutiae, and I think he was very distracted."
Fincher went on to explain that Zodiac began filming around the same time that Gyllenhaal's other film, Jarhead, was opening. Talk of the actor being projected into "this other league" following the film was often brought up.
"He had a lot of people whispering that Jarhead was going to be this massive movie and put him in this other league, and every weekend he was being pulled to go to the Santa Barbara film festival and the Palm Springs film festival and the Catalina film festival," he told the outlet. "And when he'd show up for work, he was very scattered."
"His managers and his silly agents who were all coming to his trailer at lunch to talk to him about the cover of GQ and this and that," Fincher continued. "He was being nibbled to death by ducks, and not particularly smart ducks. They got in his vision, and it was hard for him to hit the fastball."
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But, by the end of the project's production, Fincher noted that any tensions between him and Gyllenhaal had become a thing of the past and the actor even issued him an apology.
"I don’t want to make excuses for my behavior," Fincher noted. "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."
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"I tell actors all the time: I’m not going to cut around your hangover, I’m not going to cut around your dog dying, I’m not going to cut around the fact that you just fired your agent or your agent just fired you," the director added. "Once you get here, the only thing I care about is, Did we tell the story?"
Ahead of Zodiac's theatrical release back in 2007, Gyllenhaal spoke with the Times and hinted at difficulties while filming the movie.
Stating that Fincher "paints with people," the actor previously told the publication that it is "tough to be a color."