Rooney Mara: David Fincher Made Me Do 99 Takes of a Single Social Network Scene
Rooney Mara goes through the wringer as the lead of the revamped A Nightmare on Elm Street, but it's nothing compared to what she had to endure in her upcoming film, the David Fincher-directed Facebook drama The Social Network. The meticulous Fincher is notorious for demanding that his actors peform dozens of takes, as Jake Gyllenhaal found out while shooting Zodiac: "Sometimes we'd do a lot of takes, and he'd turn, and he would say, because he had a computer there, 'Delete the last 10 takes,'" Gyllenhaal told the NYT in 2007. "And as an actor that's very hard to hear."
When Movieline spoke to Mara this week, we had to know: Is Fincher still up to his old tricks?
"Yes, very much so," she said. "You know, the first day we did an 8-page scene, and it took about 6 minutes to do it all the way through. I think we did it about 99 times?"
Compared to a spartan director like Clint Eastwood (who rarely demands more than two takes from an actor), Fincher can sound punishing. Still, Mara says that his notes were always about dialogue and feeling, and that his method actually paid dividends for her and scene partner Jesse Eisenberg.
"It's interesting, because I was worried," she told us. "I was like, 'God, I'm gonna burn out, I'll get flat, it'll feel robotic,' but it never felt like that. Every single time, it really felt like a different scene and fresh. David knew exactly what he wanted and gave such specific notes, and because [screenwriter] Aaron Sorkin's dialogue is so fast and so specific, we had to stay on our toes the entire time. Me and Jesse really tried to stay fresh for each other, so it always felt very real and in the moment."
In the film, Eisenberg plays Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who's inspired to start the social networking site when his college girlfriend (played by Mara) breaks up with him.
"I do have a Facebook account, I'm not gonna lie," Mara admitted. Isn't she worried that Zuckerberg may someday see the film and suspend her account out of site? Well, I hope he doesn't!" she said, laughing. "I don't use it for my personal use, I use it for my charity, so that would be kinda lame to take it away."
[Photo Credit: Jeff Kravitz/Film Magic]