(Merrick Morton, Netflix)
“Have we got a show?” David Fincher asks. He is joking, but not really. The show in question is Mindhunter, a new drama Fincher has created for the all-powerful Netflix. The setting is a non-specific late 1970s, the principals a pair of FBI agents at the dawn of modern criminal psychology. Fincher, an executive producer, also directed the first two and last two episodes. When we meet in a starched London hotel, these are all that have been shown to a small group of journalists. Through scarcity alone, my opinion is valued. I tell him the truth — I found it very moreish — and he nods. “OK. Good. Good. You just never know.”
For much of his career, Fincher has enjoyed a reputation for a certain spikiness. Now, at 55, his goatee beard has silvered to the point of a minimalist Santa Claus. At times he almost seems avuncular. Santa, however, never brought anyone the kind of visions on which Fincher made his name. While his movies have been many and various, the best of him has surfaced in tales about the most depraved human behaviours, the horrible brilliance of Se7en and Zodiac now joined by another story of serial killers and those who pursue them. I ask when Fincher first became aware of what in Mindhunter are still called “sequence killers”?