Watching a movie with Brad Pitt sounds like a dream — and if it plays out like the wonderful, frequently memed scene from Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, it probably is. But if Pitt’s movie buddy is David Fincher, that changes things up completely. Fincher is infamous for being an intense and meticulous filmmaker, and it turns out he’s an intense and meticulous movie-watcher. Pitt revealed that he and his Seven and Fight Club director have regular movie nights, and that sounds like a great night to be a fly on the wall…and would likely drive anyone up that wall. Except for Pitt, apparently.
Pitt and Fincher first worked together on 1995’s Seven, striking up a decades-long partnership that would include 1999’s Fight Club and 2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Clearly Pitt likes spending the time with the guy, even if he is a notoriously demanding director, so much so that the pair regularly get together for movie nights with Fincher’s other close friend, filmmaker Steven Soderbergh. In a recent profile of Fincher for The New York Times, Pitt and Soderbergh gave a glimpse at what it’s like to spend a movie night with the Mank filmmaker. Unsurprisingly, Fincher is very intense. But Pitt doesn’t seem to mind:
“He’s one of the funniest [expletive] I’ve ever me. He’ll be muttering the whole time: ‘That shot works. That’s a bad handoff. Why would you go to the insert of the glove there? Stabilize!’ It’s like watching a football game with Bill Belichick.”
But Soderbergh has less tolerance for Fincher’s meticulous ways. Once getting so overwhelmed by the filmmaker’s viewing method that he had to leave the room. This happened when Fincher invited Soderbergh into his editing studio during the postproduction of the 2002 thriller Panic Room.
“David had a laser pointer out, and he was circling this one section of a wall in the upper part of the frame, saying, ‘That’s a quarter of a stop too bright,’” Soderbergh said. “I had to leave the room. I had to go outside and take some deep breaths, because I thought, Oh, my God — to see like that? All the time? Everywhere? I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
It’s easy to imagine that a hyperfocused person like Fincher could only be tolerated by a chill, relaxed persona like Pitt, who seems to be exactly the kind of movie-watcher that the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood scene suggests. And it’s paid off for Pitt: the actor revealed earlier this year that Fincher helped write the jokes for his awards season speeches for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood earlier this year, telling Variety, “My man Fincher, we trade barbs every week.”
You can see jokester David Fincher’s next film, Mank, on Netflix on December 4, 2020.