'Gone Girl' Premiere: Ben Affleck and Cast Discuss Marriage, Moviemaking, and Muscling Up for 'Batman'

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The 52nd New York Film Festival kicked off with a star-studded bang of a world premiere last night, as the cast of Gone Girl descended on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In addition to walking the red carpet and greeting throngs of festivalgoers celebrating the NYFF’s opening night, stars Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry joined director David Fincher and Gone Girl author and screenwriter Gillian Flynn at a laugh-filled press conference. Here are some of the highlights from the conference:  

Batfleck began during Gone Girl

Affleck landed the role of the Dark Knight in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice around the same time that Gone Girl went before cameras and had to promptly start getting into Bat-shape. So during production Pike watched as her schlubby, puffy onscreen hubby steadily morphed into Gotham’s own Caped Crusader. “Throughout the movie, Ben was becoming Batman. By the time we were in the shower [in one scene], I was with Batman.”

The two stars were like a bad old married couple

In their real lives, Affleck is happily married to Jennifer Garner, while Pike is in a long-term relationship with boyfriend, Robie Uniacke. In the movie, though, they get to play out the worst-case scenario of a marriage. “We really put a marriage under a microscope, from the giddy early days right though to the more toxic stages,” Pike said. “The movie seems to be about intimacy really, and the wonderful things that can go with intimacy and the treachery that can come with intimacy.” Affleck added: “The book asked really hard questions about marriage and relationships. It didn’t want to gloss over the things that we don’t like to look at about others and ourselves. Sometimes you find out ugly things when you ask hard questions.” 

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Cast members David Clennon, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck, David Fincher, Emily Ratajkowski, and Missi Pyle at Friday night’s ‘Gone Girl’ premiere in New York City.

The director and screenwriter were on the same page

From the moment she sold the Gone Girl film rights, Flynn wanted Fincher to direct the movie almost more than she wanted to write it. “At first, I was like ‘Only I can adapt it. It has to be me, it has to be me.’ And then they said, ‘Okay, it’s you,’ and I was like “‘No, no!’ It seemed like a little too much to take on; [eventually], I realized the important thing was not to be too slavishly devoted to every plotline, but that the script ultimately felt like the book. I was very concerned with keeping the dark heart of it and not turning it into a pure whodunit.” 

It was the book’s dark sense of humor that convinced Flynn that the Fight Club director would be the ideal fit for her own twisted comedy. “David’s really known for the dread in his movies, but he’s underrated for those weird bursts of humor. He would be the guy who wouldn’t be afraid to keep those [comic scenes] in there.” For his part, Fincher was impressed with Flynn’s ability to cut through the meat of the novel to reach its thematic bone. “When I read the book, I thought ‘There are three movies in here.’ But with Gillian’s first draft, she didn’t just trim the tree—only the trunk was left. She slaughtered all the darlings.”

The movie’s anthem could be “I’m Every Woman”

She may not technically be a comic book hero like Batman, but the “gone girl” in Gone Girl definitely has two special powers: 1) Her ability to disappear; and 2) An aptitude for adapting her personality to complement where she is and who she’s with. “It was really fun to be able to play every kind of woman,” Pike remarked. “Amy is alluring, compelling, confounding—all of those things. People say ‘Do you like her or dislike her?’ And I say, ‘I don’t know. But I understand her.” Amy’s creator, Flynn, described the character as “someone who can play any role she wants, from the ‘cool girl’ the men want to hang around with, to the woman men are very afraid of. She’s willing to go there. I felt that at the center of Amy was basically nothing. She’s someone who is made of a bundle of stories pulled together over the years.” 

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'Gone Girl' executive producer Bruna Papandrea, screenwriter Gillian Flynn, and executive producer Reese Witherspoon.

The cat deserves an Oscar

Sure, the human cast is top-notch, but Gone Girl's real scene-stealer is Nick and Amy's adorable cat, which is featured prominently in a number of scenes. “There's a screenplay book called Save the Cat and it’s all about making your character likable,” explained Flynn. “[The rule is that] in the first 10 minutes, you should do something that makes you like him. So I enjoyed that Ben literally saves the cat in the first 10 minutes of Gone Girl.” Apparently, the feline wasn’t the most dynamic performer, though. “It was a half-dead cat,” Affleck laughed. “It wouldn’t move. You dropped it and it would just kind of lay there. In that way, it was the best-acting cat I’ve ever had!”    

Everyone loves David

Maybe it was just because he was sitting right there, but everyone in the cast had nothing but praise for their famously exacting director. “I don’t think David sees like regular humans,” Perry remarked. “He sees everything at once and he’s trying to create this perfect tableau. If one thing is out of place, it’s got to be redone.” But Harris was quick to add that Fincher is a remarkably communicative director. “The way he communicates with people is calm and confident. You felt like you were on the right path. He wasn’t talking at you—he was talking with you.” Pike agreed, adding: “[Working with David] isn’t unbelievable pressure, because otherwise you wouldn’t survive. You feel like you’ve got that time and you’ve got somebody who is really, really watching. The other days, I saw the premiere of a film I made right before this one and I kept thinking, ‘Oh, God — David would hate that.’ I think you’re probably pre and post-Fincher in your work [as an actor].” 

Affleck, meanwhile, appreciated the chance to watch Fincher at work behind the camera. “I feel like Seven is this perfectly, meticulously, Swiss watch-made thing and I wondered what kind of a person makes a movie like that. David is genuinely an actor’s director and he’s also got one of the deepest understandings of the technical demands of filmmaking than anyone I’ve ever worked with. He’s got an engineer’s mind and the taste of an artist.”

Photo: Getty Images

Watch the trailer for Gone Girl below: