Premieres & Events

"Fincher's Going to Eat You For Breakfast"

Mark Ruffalo at Monday's preview screening of Zodiac at the Bryant Park Hotel (Photo: STV)

By S.T. VanAirsdale

The Reeler stopped by the Bryant Park Hotel screening room Monday night for a preview of the long-awaited (and, well, just plain long) David Fincher true-crime epic Zodiac, hosted by the film's star and Gotham Magazine cover boy Mark Ruffalo. As San Francisco police detective Dave Toschi, Ruffalo finds himself consumed in the decades-long unsolved hunt for the Bay Area's most notorious serial killer. "I saw a rough cut about five months ago, and it was three hours, 20 minutes," the actor told me during a quick chat before the screening, noting that he originally wasn't even that much of a fan of the serial-killer genre that Zodiac reinvents with procedural, almost fetishistic aplomb. "I read the script and this movie is much bigger than a genre picture. I felt with the part and the script and Fincher, it was going to be a pretty amazing experience -- which it was."

It's funny, I mentioned, because he's a guy people kind of fantasize about working with even though his reputation can be terrifying.

"Yeah, you hear stories about him being so hard and intense," Ruffalo said. "And then I met him, and I immediately just loved the guy and was thinking , 'Well, when is he going to change? When is this guy that you keep hearing about going to pop up?' And my relationship and friendship with him got deeper as we went along. I think Fincher, what he has no patience for is incompetence or just a casual attitude toward the work. If you come in and you don't know your lines and you're not prepared, Fincher's going to eat you for breakfast. You know? And so the actors who complain about Fincher are usually the ones who don't show up knowing their shit, kind of."

Ah. So that whole thing last week with Jake Gyllenhaal's thinly-veiled Fincher critiques ("So there came a point where I would say, well, what do I do? Where’s the risk?") in The New York Times -- was that blown out of proportion?

"Like I said," Ruffalo replied, "Fincher only has a problem with people if they're not prepared -- if they're not ready to work when they show up. Whatever form that takes -- whether it's a prop person, an actor or whatever. I thought there were a lot of weird sour grapes in that New York Times article. We're actors, man; we get paid way too much. It's like 'Wah, wah, wah' to me to hear an actor bitching and moaning when they get paid as much as they do and we have a pretty great life. I don't have much sympathy for it."

OK. Well. Enjoy the screening?

Zodiac opens nationwide Friday.

Posted at February 27, 2007 11:33 AM

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