David Fincher on ‘Mank’: ‘ I Don’t Want Sympathy for Mankiewicz, I Want Empathy’

Tim Gray
January 15, 2021
Variety

There are a lot of reasons to like “Mank.” 1. It’s great filmmaking. 2. It has an irresistible backstory: David Fincher wanted to pay tribute to his late father, Jack, by directing his screenplay; 3. It tackles a well-known topic (Hollywood in the 1930s-‘40s) from an unusual angle. 4. It’s not what people expected, always a good thing in a film.

It’s not about the making of the 1941 classic. “I hope this movie exists as more than just an addendum or footnote to ‘Citizen Kane,’ ” Fincher tells Variety. “I hope there is enough human behavior and an interesting enough look at humanity that it doesn’t require a master’s degree in film theory.”

Among other things, it is a character study of Herman J. Mankiewicz, including his risky decision to write “Citizen Kane.” It’s also about the times he lived in, and how events fed into his creativity.

Fincher says Gary Oldman doesn’t look like Mankiewicz, but has the writer’s disarming charm. “I needed  an actor’s actor, to play someone who walks into a room and everyone would say ‘That’s the guy.’

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