Time Out New York: Do other filmmakers loom in your head at this point?
Fincher: I was probably in my forties when I first became comfortable. I started directing when I was 21. Let’s put it this way: I don’t trust anybody who doesn’t go to bed at night feeling like a fraud. Feeling like: Tomorrow is the day I get the call and they rescind my ability to do this thing that I love so much that I would do it for free. There’s a part of you that is always waiting to be found out—especially when your job is to walk into a gigantic room with 90 people staring at you slack-jawed saying, “What do you want to do next?” Before I could even walk on a stage, I had to go throw up. And then you walk out and you do the best you can to look like you’re in charge.
You must be aware of your reputation as a perfectionist. Is that something you’re defensive about?
I’m defensive about the word perfectionist, because I think it’s bandied around, like when people say edgy. They’re too f---ing lazy to actually come up with a real word.Perfectionist is a polite way of saying compulsive. And I don’t think I’m a perfectionist. That’s a term people use who have no idea how movies get made. This is a ballet with no rehearsal. You can’t rehearse a shoot. You have to come in on the day and perform that dance. And there are so many things that can come between you and the intent.
...I wanted to play. And I wanted to learn from my own mistakes.
Interview via Time Out New York