It’s a great irony of Hollywood that actors become stars due to their onscreen excellence, yet the fame that results can wind up interfering with the work that made them celebrities in the first place.
According to David Fincher, that’s precisely what took place with Jake Gylenhaal when he starred in the director’s 2007 true-crime movie “Zodiac”.
In an interview with The New York Times promoting his new Netflix feature “Mank”, Fincher addressed reports of tension on the set between director and star.
“Jake was in the unenviable position of being very young and having a lot of people vie for his attention, while working for someone who does not allow you to take a day off,” Fincher explained, nothing that buzz over Gyllenhaal’s performance in “Jarhead” was placing demands on him that were hindering his focus.
“I believe you have to have everything out of your peripheral vision,” Fincher added. “I don’t think he’d ever been asked to concentrate on minutiae, and I think he was very distracted. He had a lot of people whispering that ‘Jarhead’ was going to be this massive movie and put him in this other league, and every weekend he was being pulled to go to the Santa Barbara film festival and the Palm Springs film festival and the [expletive] Catalina film festival. And when he’d show up for work, he was very scattered.”
However, Fincher said that by the time production had completed, they two had sorted things out and Gyllenhaal had apologized.
“I don’t want to make excuses for my behaviour,” said Fincher. “There are definitely times when I can be confrontational if I see someone slacking. People go through rough patches all the time. I do. So I try to be compassionate about it. But. It’s: Four. Hundred. Thousand. Dollars. A day. And we might not get a chance to come back and do it again.”