“Gone Girl” is a movie so wrapped in secrecy, that many of its co-stars hadn’t seen the David Fincher thriller until its world premiere on Friday night as the opening night selection of the New York Film Festival. “How did you get to see it before me?” asked Casey Wilson (who plays the busybody neighbor Noelle) to a Variety reporter.
The crowds outside Lincoln Center gathered for a glimpse of Ben Affleck, who stars as a man accused of murdering his wife after she goes missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. But the night belonged to his on-screen partner Rosamund Pike, who at 35 landed her first starring part in a movie after years of supporting roles (“An Education,” “Jack Reacher”). The interview-shy Fincher skipped the press line and only appeared later with his cast, including Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry, onstage.
In a case of life imitating art, Affleck hosted a four-minute press conference on the red carpet, but he was much smoother than his character is during a similar exchange in the film. When asked about making the transition back to acting after directing “Argo,” Affleck said that Fincher was the draw. “I got to the point where I don’t want to act unless it’s with a director that I really respect,” Affleck explained. “It’s a really nice relief when they’d say cut and I could go back to the my trailer.”
He said that he’d learned some lessons about directing from Fincher. “You come up against resistance in any job you have,” Affleck said. “The truth is, David just doesn’t give a fuck. He’s like, ‘No, this is what we’re going to do.’ As it turns out, if you insist what you want enough, it can happen. It amazed me, because I’d always been polite. From now on, I’m not going to take no for an answer.”
Tyler Perry, who plays the defense attorney Tanner Bolt, said he hadn’t read the Gillian Flynn best-selling book on which the movie is based. “I don’t want to until long after the movie is done,” he said. He didn’t mind Fincher’s process of lengthy takes of the same scene. “This man is brilliant,” Perry said. “His eyes need to be studied at some science center. He sees the entire picture at once. I realized the takes weren’t about the performance necessarily as it about him wanting this perfect tableau.”
But it could still prove to be challenging. “You go home, and even if you don’t drink and smoke, you drink and smoke at the end of the day,” joked Lisa Banes, who plays Amy’s mother. She remembered the first scene she filmed with Ben along a river in Missouri. “We shot it 50 times,” she said. “And two weeks later, I get the call—we’re reshooting it.”
“Gone Girl” played at both 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., but the first showing ran behind schedule, causing a massive logjam as the credits rolled. The front entrance was crowded with theater-goers trying to see the second showing, while the back entrance was flooded with a crowd trying to leave the theater. As a result, the second showing started 45 minutes late. The after-party, at Tavern on the Green, is expected to begin after midnight.
The gory film, which Affleck described as a “satire,” drew laughter and shrieks from the audience, especially during a sex scene near the end that is destined to be a classic a la “Fatal Attraction.”