Five Questions for: David Fincher

Interview by Ellie Walker-Arnott
October 10-16, 2017
Time Out (London)

DIRECTOR DAVID FINCHER is renowned for exploring the darker recesses of the human psyche, with brilliantly unsettling crime thrillers ‘Se7en’, ‘Zodiac’ and ‘Gone Girl’ to his name. Now he’s bringing his forensic eye to the FBI’s elite serial killer unit with a new Netflix series ‘Mindhunter’. Prepare for a trip to the dark side.

1- This isn’t the first time you’ve looked at serial killer psychology. What was it about this story that intrigued you?

‘“Mindhunter” is about a lot of things. It was a time and a place where the FBI had to begin to understand they didn’t know everything about criminality. I was taken with this idea that, in order to truly comprehend your enemy, you have to empathise with them.’

2- ‘Mindhunter’ is set post-Watergate in 1979. Do you think it also speaks to today’s political turmoil?

‘My parents lived through the Great Depression, assassinations and the Cuban missile crisis. They thought the world couldn’t get more crazy. My dad, who was a journalist, would probably be shocked at how things are now. In every generation, humanity finds a way to shock and disturb.’

3- You’ve done TV before with ‘House of Cards’. How does it compare to making feature films?

‘A motion picture is like a band’s first album. There’s a lot of time figuring out what you want to be. Television is more like a second album. “Quick! We need another album”. It’s more frenetic, but allows you time for characterisation. The audience have to invite you into their home and be willing to go places that you want to take them.’

4- You’ve spoken before about wanting to shock audiences. Is that always your intention?

‘If you’re just shocking people for the sake of it I don’t know that it becomes indelible. The most indelible moments an audience has with a film come from a subconscious place, from curiosity. People won’t go into the basement with you unless they want something.’

5- The movies that you’ve made stick with people. What films have left that kind of impression on you?

“‘The Exorcist” still troubles me. “Jaws” is incredibly evocative. I can remember the summer of ’75 because of “Jaws”.’ ■

‘Mindhunter’ is available on Netflix from Fri Oct 13.

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