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If you know anything about David Fincher, you probably know that he's quite the taskmaster while directing. The director of such films as The Social Network, Gone Girl and The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo famously shoots rigorously, sometimes doing dozens of takes for a given scene. Oftentimes, this helps the scene to be the best it can be, but it can makes continuity precarious and can also be really awkward. At least that's how Neil Patrick Harris recently put it, when he explained what happened when he had to film that major sex scene with Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl. Here's what the actor said about Fincher and the experience.
He's exacting. He's famous for multiple takes... Weird that it involved a really gory sex scene. In the same way, David really wanted the sex scene to be exact and understandably so, because they had two days to film it and it needs to look passionate and look improvised as sex is. But he didn't want us to flop onto the bed in a different position because then it wouldn't be useful to him because he couldn't edit it. Rosalyn and I had to spend a whole afternoon working through a sex scene moment to moment. We had to just practice that, which is awkward and weird. For hours. We would film and practice it for hours and hours... We're just rehearsing porn for hours.
Rehearsing a really intense sex scene is one thing, but filming it is another, as Neil Patrick Harris also explained that he had entire conversations with David Fincher not just about how he and Rosamund Pike would be positioned on the bed, but also how how many times she would make the movement to show she was blowing him--the list goes on and on. If you think this entire experience would be the strangers, that wasn't all Neil Patrick Harris said during the Vulture Festival. There's a second part involving Ben Affleck.
So, remember when I said that Neil Patrick Harris and Rosamund Pike had to work through the whole scene? After David Fincher designed the whole thing, he went off and shot a separate scene with Ben Affleck. When the two were ready to film, Affleck and Fincher popped over from the other set to watch the two finally film the entire thing. As Harris noted at the end of the story,
That was weird.
If you've seen Gone Girl--and we're about to get into bigger spoilers--you may already know that's the part of the film in which Neil Patrick Harris' character ultimately dies, so along with the sex there was a lot of gore. The creative team smartly had just a ton of duplicates on hand, including the bed and the rug so that Fincher's team could keep filming takes even after one bed got dirtied up. That's a smart--but likely expensive--way of doing things.
There were plenty of decisions that went into making Gone Girl so that the story could be top notch, but some of those involved wilder things than others. This isn't the only sex scene that has ever been uncomfortable for an actor or actress, but it may be along the longest. At least the final product turned out to be a bloody good time.