At a special screening of his period serial killer opus Zodiac in New York last night, director David Fincher, who earlier this year was accused by a psychologically fragile collaborator of being a sadistic taskmaster who wields the weapon of seemingly endless takes like a dominatrix uses a leather paddle on the exposed hindquarters of her favorite, ball-gagged submissive, shared his technique for breaking down actors who aren't sufficiently serious about their craft. Reports the Reeler:
A question about how he navigated the transition from music videos to films brought him to actors, who, he says, "give you an enormous gift and an enormous responsibility." He paused, and his voice went up a notch.
"Do you know the best way to get an actor to stop fucking around? Stop giving them direction. Say 'Just do another one.' Three takes of that, they're done. 'What do you want me to do?' 'I want you to come through the elevator and turn and say the line like this." Suddenly you could see the perfectionist's killer instinct that led many smart-ass critics to say Zodiac feels like a movie not just about a serial killer, but that feels like it was made by one as well.
Back in Los Angeles, Fincher's mere utterance of that accursed phrase—even an entire continent away—immediately reduced a still-scarred Jake Gyllenhaal to the fetal position, a scene particularly disturbing to a concerned Starbucks barista who, no matter how many times she stroked his hair, looked into his now-distant-but-still-dreamy eyes, and told him that everything was going to be OK, couldn't snap the actor out of the trancelike state in which murmured ominously, Just do another one...just do another one.