"It was one of the hardest things I’ve done."
Neil Patrick Harris caught my attention with this statement, part of an answer to an EXTREMELY spoilery question I asked him during the press junket for David Fincher’s Gone Girl. After all, Harris has enjoyed a courageous and colorful career that started on television, branched off into theater and film, and returned to TV for the wildly successful How I Met Your Mother. In between gigs, he has hosted the Tony Awards, the Emmy Awards, and presented at numerous other live events. And yet, a crucial and controversial scene in Gone Girl had Harris in an unprecedented spot.
Needless to say, this answer from Neil Patrick Harris bathes in spoilers for Gone Girl, and you do NOT want to hit play unless you have seen the movie. But when I asked NPH about "The Scene," his answer was fascinating – both in what it says about him, and in what it says about how a difficult sequence like this is filmed. Here’s Neil Patrick Harris on the "hardest" scene he’s ever had to do:
Gone Girl benefits from spot-on casting across the board. And not just in the lead roles, though Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike are note perfect as ice-cold, self-centered Yuppies in Gillian Flynn’s suburban nightmare. David Fincher goes the extra mile to surround his wedding-cake couple with ideal character actors. Tyler Perry is appropriately slick as divorce attorney Tanner Bolt. Carrie Coon shines as ‘Go Dunne, the angel/devil on Affleck’s shoulder. And then there’s Neil Patrick Harris’ Desi – Amy Dunne’s guardian. For better, and for worse.
The main reason I love Harris’ answer is because it gives us insight into the painstaking process of creating a memorable scene (in a movie that’s packed with them). Even those who knew Desi’ fate – from reading Flynn’s novel, no doubt – would be shocked by the brutality of it, the cold-blooded necessity of it. There’s a reason Fincher is a master at his craft. His attention to detail and his quest for perfection is all too rare in this field nowadays.
Thankfully, audiences responded to Gone Girl in kind, powering Fincher’s ice-cold thriller to a red-hot box office win. I hope you enjoyed NPH’s explanation of this fascinating scene.