Most actors who work with David Fincher have at least one story to tell about the director’s preference for filming multiple takes of the same scene. In a recent interview with Collider ahead of the release of “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” Andrew Garfield reflected on his breakthrough role in Fincher’s Oscar-winning “The Social Network” and the memorable day on set in which he filmed approximately 40 takes of the same grueling scene.
“Jesse [Eisenberg], laptop smash, that day, that long goddamn day, and Fincher being such a good dad that day,” Garfield answered when asked about his most memorable day on “The Social Network” set. “He was the perfect sports dad. He was instilling me with, ‘Keep doing it, and you can keep doing it, believe that you can keep doing… I know I’m going to ask you to do this a lot, and your voice is going to be tired, and your heart is going to be tired, and your body’s going to be exhausted, and I know you’re going to hate me, and that’s okay, because we are going to get it absolutely perfect.’”
Garfield continued, “And then at the end, instead of saying, ‘We’re moving on,’ I was sat on the floor after take 35, 40 of my closeup of that scene, which you can imagine would have been a lot of screaming and agony. And I’m sat on the floor, just wiped, exhausted, thinking we’re probably going to go again another 10 times. He just walks up to me, up that corridor from this monitor, and he puts his hand out to me and pulls me up and shakes my hand, and he says, ‘Moving on.’ And that was that. So that was a beautiful moment. I felt very gratified. Leaving it all in the field. That was a beautiful day. I loved it.”
Like many actors who have worked with Fincher, Garfield came to understand the value in the director’s multiple-takes shooting strategy. “One of the things I understand about why he does that amount of takes is that he’s getting the actor so that the actor forgets they’re being filmed,” he told Collider. “So that that’s a part of the magic of the performances in each of his films, I think. He’s looking for that moment where you forget you’re there, you forget what’s happening, and there’s a purity and a vulnerability and an openness, and the audience responds to that in a deeply unconscious way. Suddenly there’s no acting, there’s no performing, it’s just pure.”
Garfield’s “Social Network” performance remains one of the most acclaimed roles of his career. The actor has two high profile releases arriving this fall: “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” (September 17 in theaters from Searchlight Pictures) and “Tick, Tick Boom” (streaming November 19 on Netflix).