Fincher at the Paris premiere of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2012
|Born||David Andrew Leo Fincher
August 28, 1962
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Donya Fiorentino (1990–1995)|
|Partner(s)||Ceán Chaffin (1996–present)|
|Children||1 (with Fiorentino)|
David Andrew Leo Fincher (born August 28, 1962) is an American director and producer. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director for films The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and The Social Network (2010). For The Social Network, he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director and the BAFTA Award for Best Direction. He is also known for directing Seven (1995), Fight Club (1999), Zodiac (2007), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), and Gone Girl (2014).
Fincher was born on August 28, 1962 in Denver, Colorado, the son of Claire Mae (née Boettcher), a mental health nurse from South Dakota who worked in drug addiction programs, and Howard Kelly Fincher, an author from Oklahoma who worked as a reporter and bureau chief for Life. Howard died of cancer in April 2003. When Fincher was two years old, the family moved to San Anselmo, California, where filmmaker George Lucas was one of his neighbors. Fincher moved to Ashland, Oregon in his teens, where he graduated from Ashland High School. During high school, he worked on plays and design sets and lighting. He was also a non-union projectionist at a second-run movie theater, production assistant at the local television news station KOBI in Medford, Oregon, and other odd jobs such as fry cook, busboy, and dishwasher. Inspired by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Fincher began making movies at age eight with an 8mm camera.
Fincher was employed at Korty Films as a production assistant. He moved up the ranks and became a visual-effects producer and worked on the animated Twice Upon a Time (1983). He was later hired by Industrial Light & Magic in 1983, where he was an assistant cameraman and matte photographer and worked on productions for Return of the Jedi (1983) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984). In 1984, he left ILM to direct a commercial for the American Cancer Society that shows a fetus smoking a cigarette. This quickly brought Fincher to the attention of producers in Los Angeles, and he was given the chance to direct the documentary The Beat of the Live Drum, featuring Rick Springfield, in 1985. Though he would continue to direct spots for companies like Levi's, Converse, Nike, Pepsi, Revlon, Sony, Coca-Cola, and Chanel Fincher soon discovered music videos and went on to direct many promos.
Set on a directing career, Fincher joined video-production company Propaganda Films and started off directing music videos and commercials. Like Fincher, directors such as Michael Bay, Antoine Fuqua, Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Alex Proyas, Paul Rachman, Mark Romanek, Zack Snyder, Gore Verbinski and others honed their talents at Propaganda Films before moving on to feature films.
In an interview with Empire magazine in 2008, Fincher named the following films as his favorites: Alien (1979), All That Jazz (1979), All the President's Men (1976), American Graffiti (1973), Being There (1979), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Cabaret (1972), Chinatown (1974), Citizen Kane (1941), Days of Heaven (1978), Dr. Strangelove (1964), 8½ (1963), The Exorcist (1973), The Godfather Part II (1974), The Graduate (1967), Jaws (1975), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Mad Max 2 (1981), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), Paper Moon (1973), Rear Window (1954), Taxi Driver (1976), The Terminator (1984), The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), and Zelig (1983).
Feature films and television
After directing several music videos, Fincher's feature debut was Alien 3 (1992). While it received an Oscar nomination for visual effects, the film was not well received by critics or moviegoers. Fincher became involved with several disputes with 20th Century Fox over script and budget issues. In Director's Cut: Picturing Hollywood in the 21st Century, he blames the producers for not putting the necessary trust in him. He stated in an interview with The Guardian in 2009: "No one hated it more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me." After this, he retreated back into the world of commercial and music video directing, including the video for the Grammy Award-winning track "Love Is Strong" (1994) by The Rolling Stones.
In 1995, Fincher directed Seven. The film, based on a screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker, told the story of two detectives (played by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman) tracking down a serial killer who bases his killings on the seven deadly sins. The film grossed more than $100 million domestically (over $300 million internationally). The chairman of New Line Cinema, Arnold Kopelson, originally refused to allow filming of the shocking climactic scene. With the aid of Brad Pitt, who stated that he would not be involved with the picture if its ending were changed, Fincher was allowed to film the original scene and use it in the final cut.
After the success of Seven, Fincher went on to film The Game (1997). The story focused on a closed-off San Francisco businessman (played by Michael Douglas) who receives an unusual gift from his younger brother (Sean Penn), in which he becomes the main player of a role-playing game that takes over his life. The film had middling box-office returns despite being well received by critics.
Fight Club (1999) is a screen adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's 1996 novel about an insomniac office worker who opens up a club devoted exclusively to bare knuckle fighting for men. Featuring Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, and Seven collaborator Brad Pitt, the film was an early disappointment at the box-office and received mixed reviews. Fight Club was panned by several critics and alienated audiences leading to its box office failure in the United States.
However, many critics and audiences later changed their opinions and the film appeared on many "best of the year" lists and soon developed a cult following. Entertainment Weekly, which had originally given the film a D-, later ranked the DVD #1 on its list of 50 Essential DVDs. Exceptional sales have since established it as a cult film.
In 2002, Fincher followed up with the thriller Panic Room. The film earned over $92 million at the U.S. box office. The story follows a single mother (Jodie Foster) and her daughter (Kristen Stewart) as they hide in a safe room of their new house, away from criminals (Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam, and Fight Club collaborator Jared Leto) bent on finding a missing fortune. Fincher acknowledged Panic Room as a more mainstream thriller, describing the film, on the DVD's audio commentary, as "[basically] a date movie" and a "really good B movie" about "two people trapped in a closet".
Five years after Panic Room, Fincher returned on March 2, 2007 with Zodiac, an adaptation of Robert Graysmith's books about the hunt for the Zodiac Killer that starred Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey, Jr., Anthony Edwards, and Brian Cox. The first of Fincher's films to be shot digitally, the majority of the film was recorded on a Thompson Viper Film Stream Camera. However, high-speed film cameras were used for the Blue Rock Springs and Presidio Heights murder scenes for the slow-motion shots. It was originally to be released in the fall of 2006 but was pushed back after Fincher refused to cut 20 minutes off the film.
Zodiac was one of the best-reviewed films of that year, with only two other 2007 films appearing on more top-10 lists (No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood). However, the film struggled at the box office in the U.S., earning only $33 million, but did well overseas with a foreign gross of $51.7 million. Worldwide, Zodiac was a decent success. Despite an aggressive campaign by the studio, expectations surrounding Robert Downey, Jr.'s supporting performance, Fincher's direction and Vanderbilt's adapted script, the film did not earn a single Academy Award nomination.
A story about life and death, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story of the same name. The film was Fincher's third with Brad Pitt. The film started shooting in November 2006 in New Orleans, before moving on to the Virgin Islands, Montreal, and L.A. Both Zodiac and this film are co-productions of Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. The budget for the film was estimated at $150 million, partly due to the CGI effects used to reverse the aging in Pitt's character. The film is the first PG-13 film directed by Fincher. It received 13 nominations at the 81st Academy Awards, including Fincher's first nomination for Best Director. It won three Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, Best Makeup, and Best Visual Effects.
Fincher directed the 2010 film The Social Network, about the legal battles of Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook. The film features an Oscar-winning screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, adapted from the book The Accidental Billionaires. Featuring a young cast ensemble, the film was produced by Scott Rudin, Kevin Spacey and Michael DeLuca. Filming started in October 2009 and was released a year later, to critical acclaim. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross created the Oscar-winning soundtrack for the film. Fincher had long been a fan of Reznor's work in Nine Inch Nails, even putting a remix of "Closer" in the beginning of Seven and directing the music video for "Only". The film went on to win many awards, including four Golden Globes (including Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Original Score), three BAFTAs (including Best Direction), and three Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Film Editing.
Fincher directed the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which was based on the book by Stieg Larsson, with a script written by Steven Zaillian. The film was shot in Sweden, with Rooney Mara (who played Erica Albright in The Social Network) as Lisbeth Salander, Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist, Robin Wright as Erika Berger, Stellan Skarsgård as Martin Vanger and Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger. The film was released on December 21, 2011. Dragon Tattoo writer Steve Zaillian is in the early stage of scripting The Girl Who Played with Fire, which Fincher has the option to direct. While he has not yet committed to the project, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker has admitted that (should he sign on) he would prefer to shoot both the second and third Millennium book adaptations back-to-back, for both practical and artistic purposes. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross composed the soundtrack for the film (their second collaboration with Fincher). It received five Academy Award nominations at the 84th Academy Awards including: Best Actress for Rooney Mara, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Sound Mixing and won one award for Best Film Editing.
Fincher is executive producer of the Netflix television series House of Cards; he also directed the first two episodes. The series has received critical acclaim, receiving nine Primetime Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series and Fincher for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for the first episode, which he won.
Fincher directed the adaptation of Gillian Flynn's novel Gone Girl, Production began in September 2013 and the film was released on October 3, 2014. Fincher confirmed as taking the directing and writing duties for the first season of HBO's adaptation of Utopia, a British television series. It revolves around a group of people thrust into conspiracy theories and dangerous circumstances after discovering a secret sequel to a famous graphic novel. This is Fincher's second TV project after House of Cards on Netflix, which also attracted actor Kevin Spacey.
As a music video director, Fincher has won two Grammy Awards for Best Music Video, for his work in "Love Is Strong" by The Rolling Stones (1995) and "Suit & Tie" by Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z (2013), and three MTV Video Music Awards for Best Direction, being one of the most awarded directors in the category, alongside Spike Jonze. His video for Don Henley's "The End of the Innocence" won Henley the MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video in 1990. He also earned back-to-back MTV Video Music Awards for Best Direction in 1989 for "Express Yourself" and in 1990 for "Vogue". In 1990, he earned three of the four available nominations in the Best Direction category.
- "Dance This World Away", Rick Springfield (1984)
- "Celebrate Youth", Rick Springfield (1984)
- "Bop Til You Drop", Rick Springfield (1984)
- "Shame", The Motels (1985)
- "Shock", The Motels (1985)
- "Celebrate Youth", Rick Springfield (1985)
- "All The Love In The World", The Outfield (1986)
- "Everytime You Cry", The Outfield (1986)
- "One Simple Thing", Stabilizers (1986)
- "She Comes On", Wire Train (1987)
- "Should She Cry", Wire Train (1987)
- "Endless Nights", Eddie Money (1987)
- "Downtown Train", Patty Smyth (1987)
- "I Don't Mind At All", Bourgeois Tagg (1987)
- "Notorious", Loverboy (1987)
- "Love Will Rise Again", Loverboy (1987)
- "Johnny B", The Hooters (1987)
- "Storybook Story", Mark Knopfler (1987)
- "Can I Hold You", Colin Hay (1987)
- "No Surrender", The Outfield (1987)
- "Say You Will", Foreigner (1987)
- "Don't Tell Me The Time", The Motels (1987)
- "Tell It To the Moon", The Motels (1988)
- "Heart of Gold", Johnny Hates Jazz (1988)
- "Englishman in New York", Sting (1988)
- "Shattered Dreams" (second version),
Johnny Hates Jazz (1988)
- "Get Rhythm", Ry Cooder (1988)
- "Most of All", Jody Watley (1988)
- "Roll With It", Steve Winwood (1988)
- "(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me" (version 1988), Paula Abdul (1988)
- "Holding On", Steve Winwood (1988)
- "Heart", Neneh Cherry (1989)
- "Bamboleo" (second version), Gipsy Kings (1989)
- "Straight Up", Paula Abdul (1989)
- "Most of All", Jody Watley (1989)
- "Real Love", Jody Watley (1989)
- "Bamboleo" (third version), Gipsy Kings (1989)
- "She's a Mystery to Me", Roy Orbison (1989)
- "Forever Your Girl", Paula Abdul (1989)
- "Express Yourself", Madonna (1989)
- "The End of the Innocence", Don Henley (1989)
- "Cold Hearted", Paula Abdul (1989)
- "(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me" (version 1989), Paula Abdul (1988)
- "Oh Father", Madonna (1989)
- "Janie's Got a Gun", Aerosmith (1989)
- "Vogue", Madonna (1990)
- "Cradle of Love", Billy Idol (1990)
- "L.A. Woman", Billy Idol (1990)
- "Freedom '90", George Michael (1990)
- "Who Is It?", Michael Jackson (1992)
- "Bad Girl", Madonna (1993)
- "Love Is Strong", The Rolling Stones (1994)
- "6th Avenue Heartache", The Wallflowers (1996)
- "Judith", A Perfect Circle (2000)
- "Only", Nine Inch Nails (2005)
- "Suit & Tie", Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z (2013)
|The Curious Case of Benjamin Button||72%||70|
|The Social Network||96%||95|
|The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo||86%||71|
|United States||Outside United States||Worldwide|
|Alien3||May 22, 1992||$55,473,545||$104,340,953||$159,814,498||$50 million|||
|Seven||September 22, 1995||$100,125,643||$227,186,216||$327,311,859||$33 million|||
|The Game||September 12, 1997||$48,323,648||$61,100,000||$109,423,648||$50 million|||
|Fight Club||October 15, 1999||$37,030,102||$63,823,651||$100,853,753||$63 million|||
|Panic Room||March 29, 2002||$96,397,334||$100,000,081||$196,397,415||$48 million|||
|Zodiac||March 2, 2007||$33,080,084||$51,705,830||$84,785,914||$65 million|||
|The Curious Case of Benjamin Button||December 25, 2008||$127,509,326||$206,422,757||$333,932,083||$150 million|||
|The Social Network||October 1, 2010||$96,962,694||$127,957,621||$224,920,315||$40 million|||
|The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo||December 20, 2011||$102,068,888||$130,101,637||$232,617,430||$90 million|||
|Gone Girl||October 3, 2014||$161,793,000||$173,400,000||$335,193,000||$61 million|||
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|Awards and achievements|
|National Board of Review|
for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
|National Board of Review|
for The Social Network