How Se7en May Have Been Brought Back From The Dead By A Different Director

Se7en Brad Pitt David Mills

When it comes to crime thrillers, few can compare to the sheer iconography of David Fincher's Se7en. The film is now considered one of the best horror movies of all time for its intense, psychological story, and legendary for its overwhelmingly grim twist ending. However, it turns out that the Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman-fronted classic almost didn't get made, and Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight director Ernest Dickerson recently revealed that he may have played an integral role getting the film out of development hell.

As the story goes, New Line Cinema was at a loss with regards to how they could get Se7en off of the ground. After several directors turned down the project (because it was "too dark"), Ernest Dickerson apparently went in and pitched them a version of the physiological horror film that took a restrained approach to the gore by keeping it less overt and more implied. The director felt satisfied with his take on the Se7en story, but recently recounted the aftermath -- in which the studio took his idea and hired David Fincher to execute it. Dickerson explained:

A couple days later, I talked to my agent. My agent said, 'Well, you talked your way out of a job.' She said, 'They were getting ready to throw that script in the trash. You told them how they could make it. You told them that it could be a great horror film. That it didn't have to be gory. After you left, they said 'See, we do have something here. We can get an A-list director. We can get an A-list cast.' And I swear to god. I gave them the idea...

Beyond helping guide the overall direction of the film, it seems that Ernest Dickerson may have also played a significant role in the movie's development by suggesting a black actor for Morgan Freeman's role as Detective William Somerset, as well as the casting of Brad Pitt as Detective David Mills. The director continued his interview on the Post Mortem Podcast by explainng that he suggested the idea of casting Pitt after seeing him in Thelma & Louise, saying:

I mentioned the idea that the older officer should be African American. And the younger guy. I said maybe Johnny Depp. I said, 'But I just saw this movie called Thelma & Louise. And there's this guy in it... Brad Pitt. I think he's gonna turn into something.' I swear to god.

Of course, as intrigued as we are by the possibility of Ernest Dickerson's version of Se7en, we think things turned out for the best in the end. David Fincher's work on the project has become iconic for its disturbingly horrific, yet oddly cerebral storytelling. Beyond that, his collaboration with Brad Pitt ultimately led to a long working relationship with the movie star that would see the creation of projects like Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and the upcoming World War Z sequel. We love "what if" scenarios in Hollywood, but we wouldn't trade the Fincher/Pitt partnership for anything.

At the end of the day, can we truly confirm that this is how Se7en got made? Not really. Having said that, it's still a fascinating story and a rare look into the bizarre process of movie development. If Ernest Dickerson is actually responsible for bringing that 1995 classic back from the dead, then I think we all owe him an enormous thank you.

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.