Gary Oldman on Working with David Fincher on ‘Mank’: “He’s looking for perfection”

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“As an actor, you are contracted. You are work for hire… I’m there to serve to the character, the story, and the director.” – Gary Oldman

How many takes are too many? For Academy Award-winning actor Gary Oldman, it’s all up to the director. So when Oldman worked with director David Fincher on Mank — a filmmaker who is well known for shooting many takes of the same scene — it was a positive thing that they were on the same page. As Oldman explained to IndieWire, he’s just happy to part of the project and the process.

While actors have complained in the past about Fincher’s tendency to shoot dozens of takes of the same scene, Oldman has a different perspective on it, and explains how he sees his job as an actor as providing the content that the director needs:

“As an actor, you are contracted. You are work for hire. You have a 12-hour working day, you come in, and if the director wants to shoot it 10 to 60 to 250 times, I’m there to serve to the character, the story, and the director, and until I clock off, if that’s what someone wants to do, I’m happy to be there. But he’s meticulous. He’s looking for perfection, and that means the performance might be great in particular, but you didn’t move your head far enough around and the key light didn’t hit you. He wants all the elements to work so he has it in a master, in a medium close-up, and he has it in close. There’s a freedom in trying different things. Once the performance is there for David and he gives a thumbs up, he then comes in and gives notes between takes, and he’s looking for all the elements working. ‘We’re going again because this or this was great, but we need that to work now.’ He’s looking at the whole thing.”

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