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"Zodiac" by David Fincher

With Zodiac, presented in Competition, David Fincher unveils one of his works in Cannes for the first time. Over ten years after the release of Seven, the director makes a second descent into the world of serial killers with an exploration of Zodiac, the criminal who terrorized San Francisco in the late 1960s, always managing to elude police. To accomplish this ambitious endeavor, based on the book by Robert Graysmith, the reporter who spent years tracking Zodiac, Fincher called upon three sure-fire Hollywood crowd-pleasers: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey, Jr.

David Fincher remembers the real Zodiac, who horrified the whole city when he was a child: "If you grew up there, at the time, you had this childhood fear that you kind of insinuated yourself into it. What if it was our bus? What if he showed up in our neighborhood? You create even more drama about it when you’re a kid because that is what kids do."
As for Jake Gyllenhaal, he has a striking memory of his first reading of the screenplay: “The first time I read the script, the murders, in particular, were terrifying. I remember flipping through the pages and thinking, ‘This is real, this actually happened.’ I immediately wanted to do it.


 Press conference:

Present in Cannes for the competition feature Zodiac, several crew joined David Fincher in a meet-the-press today. Among those on hand were actress Chloé Sévigny, actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo, producers Brad Fischer, Mike Medavoy and Arnold Messer, along with scriptwriter Jamie Vanderbilt. Excerpts follow.

David Fincher on how he got involved in the project:
“I had a sort of standing policy at the time: don’t send me any serial script movies. He [his agent] called me on a Saturday morning… ‘It really breaks all our rules but I’m going to send it over to you.’ ‘So what’s it called?’ And he said, "Zodiac."
I said send it, because it was kind of a specific moment in my life, growing up in the Bay area, going to grade school, and being followed by police cars in our school bus. When I finally got the script in my hands, I realized I didn’t know anything about it. It was just a gripping read. And the politics of it were far more interesting than the slasher film. (…) I don’t think that this is a serial killer movie; this is a newspaper movie…the human mind’s need to make sense of something that is randomly chaotic.”

Jake Gyllenhaal on his part in Zodiac:
“I actually had the opportunity of reading the script before David had his way with it and both tracks I thought were really extraordinary. (…) When we first met about the film, David said, ‘In the first half, you’re going to be an extra in the movie, but then in the second half you get to take the lead.’ I was really intrigued by that.”

David Fincher on the setting of the 70s:
“We didn’t want to make a movie that was a pastiche of the 70s; we didn’t want to make a movie about fat ties and sideburns… It was not the summer of love San Francisco, it was corporate San Francisco, and corporate San Francisco kind of slouched over into hippie San Francisco… It wasn’t gonna be a “Starsky and Hutch”; it was going to be steeped in the edges of the thing.”

David Fincher on the density of the information conveyed:
“The production value of the movie – the special effect of the movie – was data, which is not real sexy, so you kind of have to make room for that in the movie…In this movie, it was very important what people were saying; it was very important that the audience begin to catalog these tidbits of information, and so we decided very early on that even though it was a risky proposition, the best way to do that was by not having too many flourishes that were going to distract them from what people were saying. So that led to a very rigorous tableau style.”

Jake Gyllenhaal on Robert Downey, Jr.:
“Working with Robert is like working in the 8th dimension. A very good typical actor has about 25 interesting choices and ideas a minute and then there’s Robert Downey, Jr., who has from 500 to 750 ideas a minute. Some people would call that madness; I would call it genius… Somebody who is constantly bringing ideas, somebody you’re constantly running around after and then they’re chasing you. That’s a wonderful thing, where rhythms are all over the place. It’s like playing jazz with somebody.”

Mark Ruffalo on meeting the real David Toschi:
“I spent two days with him… He made it very clear to me that he was very reticent about this film. His wife didn’t want him to have anything to do with it. I told him, ‘I’m here to honor you. I really respect you and your wife and what you went through for this. I want to get it right and I know that Fincher does too.’ I sat by that guy’s desk for two days and watched his every move… I got to know him in a very personal way and I still correspond with him.”


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