Just as Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) personified the quintessential romantic match, Amy’s disappearance has all the markings of an emblematic domestic American crime. But her vanishing becomes a kind of hall of mirrors in which tantalizing and savage secrets lead to tantalizing and savage secrets. The events that unfold are thick with shocks and complications, but the questions that remain are what cut, with razor-sharp precision, to the bone.
Co-starring the likes of Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit and Carrie Coon, ‘Gone Girl’ is directed by David Fincher and opens on October 3rd. The film is an adaptation of the 2012 novel of same name by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the adapted screenplay.
Rosamund, I can imagine the role of Amy was incredibly unique for to play, in that she’s a character with unending layers. Was that the challenge and the allure of the role?
Rosamund Pike: For sure. I was quite intrigued by this idea of marriage as con game – the idea that we’re all selling a version of ourselves. And Amy is such a remarkable creation. It fascinated me that she is always performing, perhaps in part because it points back to the life of an actor. The challenge of being Amy is that nothing that happens with her is quite what it seems on the surface. In playing Amy, I get to explore so many different aspects of the feminine brain. There are scenes where Amy is playing two different things to two different people in the same room – and the audience has to see both.
Ben, the pairing of Gillian Flynn’s merciless insights with David Fincher’s atmospheric storytelling makes a potent mix with the dark humor of the story – and its skew on marriage, celebrity and the way we mold and remold our life stories. I can imagine that was appealing to you?
Ben Affleck: Yeah, it was as if David interpreted what Gillian wrote and then that interpretation was put back through Gillian again on the page (laughs). And during that process there was even more wit added, there was more sardonic stuff, and there were so many salient observations. It really fits into David’s work and has that distinctive combination of being at once funny and enlivening.
Playing such a deeply flawed man, can you recall your initial conversations with David Fincher that set the ground rules for your performance as Nick Dunne?
Ben Affleck: He said, “This can’t be a vain performance, you have to fully commit to showing the soft belly of this guy. You have to be willing to be really embarrassing, not ‘pretend embarrassing’ or ‘movie embarrassing,’ but to actually show those parts of yourself where you think ‘Why did I say that? Why did I do that?’” I knew it was a risk but I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t deeply trust the director. I knew he was right about the way to do this, that it was really smart. But later, when I was feeling humiliated as Nick, I had to remember this is what he told me right in the beginning (laughs)!
And without giving much away, Amy is full of contradictions…
Rosamund Pike: Yeah. She can be easy-going, sexy and relaxed but then there are all these other currents running underneath. It’s all very true to our lives right now, isn’t it? We all are editing a version of ourselves it often seems. Amy is the kind of girl who is not just Nick’s ‘dream girl.’ She would attempt to be the ‘dream girl’ for any man she was with – she will get in their head and be that girl, play that role for all it’s worth. In the beginning, Amy hoped to construct the perfect relationship. Those early glory days were really fun for her, but they weren’t sustainable. When things started to go wrong – when Nick’s mother got cancer, when Amy’s parents started having financial troubles – the marriage changed. I think Amy felt she showed her real self and Nick didn’t like it.
And I imagine that took you through physical and emotional extremes….
Rosamund Pike: The challenge was peeling back one layer after another of the onion that is this marriage. But along with the challenges came rich rewards, especially working with David… he’s so detailed in the most psychologically observant ways , and because he wants to explore everything, he leaves you feeling that no stone was left unturned.
Ben, as a director yourself now, with three films acclaimed films under your belt, what was it like working with Fincher’s distinctive process?
Ben Affleck: Oh man, in most movies you spend 2/3 of the time sitting in your trailer and 1/3 shooting, but the ratio is reversed with David or even more so, where you spend maybe only 10% of the time not working. The whole structure he creates on set is about the characters, the story and there are no other distractions. I’ve learned a lot from working with David. He has a real efficiency and a driving sense of what he wants. He’s also steeped in the technology that underpins the film industry – and to have the mind of an engineer and the taste of an artist is a very rare combination.
And I find that at this point in my career that it’s all about the director. To get a chance to work with a guy you admire a great deal… I want to be a director like that one day. Before all my movies that I’ve directed, all three of them, I watched ‘Se7en’; I feel like it’s the perfectly meticulously Swiss watch-made thing. What kind of person makes a movie like this? It was great to work with David and I learned a great deal from him. It was a pleasure being around him and a true learning experience that I would do again and again a million times. It was a joy.