The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
“I don't know how much movies should entertain. To me, I'm always interested in movies that scar. The thing I love about 'Jaws' (1975) is the fact that I've never gone swimming in the ocean again.” David Fincher
Starting out as a TV commercial and music video director, David Fincher made his feature directorial debut with the science fiction/horror film "Alien3" (1992; starring Sigourney Weaver), the most expensive film made by a first time director at the time. He has since been known for his thought-provoking, dark, and stylish movies such as “Se7en” (1995), “The Game” (1997), “Fight Club” (1999), “Panic Room” (2002), “Zodiac” (2007), and most recently, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008), which earned him an Academy Award nomination. Next, he will direct the historical film about real-life U.S. Treasury Department agent Eliot Ness (reportedly will be portrayed by Matt Damon), "Ness," and co-direct "Heavy Metal."
“As a director, film is about how you dole out the information so that the audience stays with you when they're supposed to stay with you, behind you when they're supposed to stay behind you, and ahead of you when they're supposed to stay ahead of you.“ David Fincher
Fincher, whose commercial credits include TV advertisements for Nike, Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Heineken, Converse, Levis, Pepsi, AT & T, Chanel, and Revlon, also directed music videos for such artists as Madonna, Sting, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Paula Abdul, Nine Inch Nails, Aerosmith, George Michael, Iggy Pop, Jody Watley, The Wallflowers, Billy Idol, Stevie Winwood, The Motels, and A Perfect Circle.
This 6' 0½” filmmaker was married to actress Donya Marlette Fiorentino from 1990 to 1995 and has one daughter with her.
Childhood and Family:
Born in Denver, Colorado, on August 28, 1962, David Leo Fincher, nicknamed “Finch” and “Davey,” grew up in Marin County, California, where one of his neighbors was future acclaimed filmmaker George Lucas. David later worked on the special effects crew of “Star Wars: Episode VI- Return of the Jedi” (1983), produced and written by Lucas.
The son of Jack Fincher, a bureau chief and writer for Life magazine, David moved to Ashland, Oregon, in his teens and graduated from Ashland High School, in Ashland, Oregon.
From 1990 to 1995, Fincher was married to actress Donya Marlette Fiorentino (born on November 10, 1967). They have one daughter named Phelix Imogen Fincher, who was born on April 25, 1994.
“I do agree you can't just make movies three hours long for no apparent reason. For a romantic comedy to be three hours long, that's longer than most marriages.” David Fincher
Inspired to pursue a career in cinema after watching the 1969 feature film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969), David Fincher began making movies at age eight with an 8mm camera. However, he did not go to film school and preferred working hands-on for John Korty at Korty Films in Mill Valley when he was 18. He then worked at ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) from 1981 to 1983. He got his first on-screen credit for his work with ILM on "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" (1983). He also worked on "Twice Upon a Time" (1983) and "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1984).
After leaving ILM, Fincher was signed by N. Lee Lacy in Hollywood and began to direct TV commercials and music videos. In 1985, he directed his first commercial, a spot for the American Cancer Society which showed a fetus smoking a cigarette. That same year, he helmed the documentary “The Beat of the Live Drum,” featuring Rick Springfield. Fincher also directed spots for such companies as Revlon, Converse, Nike, Pepsi, Sony, and Levi's. In 1986, he co-founded Propaganda Films with fellow directors Dominic Sena, Greg Gold and Nigel Dick.
Fincher subsequently spent the rest of the decade directing music videos for Paula Abdul's "The Way That You Love Me" (1988 and 1989 versions), "Straight Up" (1989), "Forever Your Girl" (1989), "Cold Hearted" (1989), Steve Winwood's "Roll With It" (1988), Aerosmith "Janie's Got a Gun" (1989), and Madonna's "Express Yourself" (1989) and "Oh Father" (1990). Fincher was originally set to direct “Madonna: Truth or Dare” (1991), but dropped out. The following year, he made his feature directorial debut with the science fiction/horror film “Alien3” (1992) and became involved with several disputes with FOX, which led Fincher to disassociate himself with the production. Despite the distraction, the film that stars Sigourney Weaver was the most expensive film made by a first time director at the time it was nominated for a Saturn Award - Best Director at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films in 1993. During this time, Fincher also directed the Nike commercials "Instant Karma," "Magazine Wars," "Children," "Barkley on Broadway," "Temple of Flight," "Speed Chain," and "Game Breakers." He directed Madonna's video "Bad Girl" (1993), Michael Jackson's video "Who Is It" (1993), and Rolling Stones' "Love Is Strong" (1994), which won him a Grammy Award for Best Music Video, Short Form. Additionally, Fincher directed the Budweiser commercial "Ginger or Marianne," (1993) and Levi jeans commercials titled "Reason #259" and "Restaurant" (1994). He also directed a Honda Del Sol commercial in 1995, which was later pulled from the air because it was too similar to “James Bond” films.
The mid 1990s saw Fincher with a surprise box office success with the thriller “Se7en” (1995). The film, which follows Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt’s characters as they investigate a series of murders, was generally well-received by critics and won awards at the Blue Ribbon Awards (Best Foreign Language Film), Sant Jordi Awards (Audience Award - Best Foreign Film), Fantasporto (International Fantasy Film Award - Best Film), Hochi Film Awards (Best Foreign Language Film), and Fantasporto (International Fantasy Film Award - Best Film). It was also nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Director at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.
Two yeas later, Fincher helmed his third feature, “The Game” (1997), with Michael Douglas. The psychological thriller that was produced by Steve Golin was well received by critics in spite of low box-office returns.
After turning down an offer to direct the thriller “8mm” (1999), Fincher helmed “Fight Club” (1999), a screen adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's 1996 novel of the same name. The film that stars Brad Pitt and Edward Norton earned Fincher an OFCS Award - Best Director at the Online Film Critics Society Awards.
Entering the new millennium, Fincher directed the “Judith” video for “A Perfect Circle.” He next executive produced a series of short advertisements for BMW in 2001, which were shown on the Internet.
Meanwhile, Fincher, who was originally considered to direct “Hannibal” (2001), “Spider-Man” (2002) and “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” (2002), turned down the offer to direct “Catch Me If You Can” (2002) to work on the thriller “Panic Room” (2002; starring Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker, and a young Kristen Stewart). He then directed the Coca-Cola commercial "The Arquettes" (2003) and a Hewlett-Packard commercial titled "Constant Change" (2004). He also directed the music video for Nine Inch Nails' "Only" (2005).
In 2005, Fincher executive produced “Lords of Dogtown,” a biographical film directed by Catherine Hardwicke. He also directed Motorola’s commercial "Pebl" (2006) and helmed a controversial Orville Redenbacher commercial in 2007. He returned to filmmaking with an adaptation of Robert Graysmith's 1986 nonfiction book about the hunt for the Zodiac Killer, “Zodiac” (2007). Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr., the film received positive reviews although it did not perform strongly at the box office. It was nominated for a Bodil Award for Best American Film and a Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival. It also earned Fincher Best Director nominations at the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, the Empire Awards, and the Online Film Critics Society Awards, as well as a Director of the Year nomination at the London Critics Circle Film Awards.
Fincher recently teamed up again with actor Brad Pitt to direct him in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008), a drama film based on the true story of the 1921 novella of the same name written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It has received generally positive reviews and has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Directing, a BAFTA Film Award for Best Director, a Critics Choice Award for Best Director, a CFCA (Chicago Film Critics Association) Award for Best Director, a DGA (Directors Guild of America) Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, and a Golden Globe for Best Director - Motion Picture. It also won Fincher the Best Director Award at the National Board of Review Awards.
“I don't know anything about Academy consideration. I don't know what an awards movie is.” David Fincher
Fincher will direct "Ness," an upcoming film about real-life U.S. Treasury Department agent Eliot Ness (reportedly will be portrayed by Matt Damon), the leader of a legendary team of law enforcement agents nicknamed "The Untouchables." It has also been announced he will co-direct "Heavy Metal," a series of animated shorts inspired by the 1981 cult-favorite film.
“I have a philosophy about the two extremes of filmmaking. The first is the ‘Kubrick way,’ where you're at the end of an alley in which four guys are kicking the shit out of a wino. Hopefully, the audience members will know that such a scenario is morally wrong, even though it's not presented as if the viewer is the one being beaten up; it's more as if you're witnessing an event. Inversely, there's the ‘Spielberg way,’ where you're dropped into the middle of the action and you're going to live the experience vicariously - not only through what's happening, but through the emotional flow of what people are saying. It's a much more involved style. I find myself attracted to both styles at different times, but mostly I'm interested in just presenting something and letting people decide for themselves what they want to look at.” David Fincher
National Board of Review: Best Director, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” 2008
Directors Guild of America: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials, 2004
Blue Ribbon: Best Foreign Language Film, "Se7en," 1997
Sant Jordi: Audience Award - Best Foreign Film, "Se7en," 1997
Fantasporto: International Fantasy Film Award - Best Film, "Se7en," 1996
Hochi Film: Best Foreign Language Film, "Se7en," 1996
Fantasporto: International Fantasy Film Award - Best Film, "Se7en," 1996