Not too many directors have the career that two-time Oscar nominee David Fincher has had. His transition from doing music videos to feature film was seamless. One of his most notable films is the polarizing Fight Club, starring Brad Pitt. Upon its release, the film elicited varying responses, including one from fellow director Paul Thomas Anderson. After years of silence, Fincher has finally spoke on Anderson wishing him testicular cancer after seeing Fight Club.
David Fincher spoke about his longstanding career with Rolling Stone. He delved into his start as a music video director, as well as other career highlights, while promoting his latest film, Mank. The interview eventually turned to the cult classic Fight Club. While talking about the film, Fincher was reminded of when director Paul Thomas Anderson wished him testicular cancer after only seeing 30 minutes of it. The Oscar-nominated director decided to finally respond to Anderson after two decades, saying:
Look, I’ve been through cancer with somebody that I love, and I can understand if somebody thought... I didn’t think that we were making fun of cancer survivors or victims. I thought what Chuck [Palahniuk, on whose book the film was based] was doing was talking about a therapeutic environment that could be infiltrated or abused. We were talking about empathy vampirism.
Despite Paul Thomas Anderson’s comment, David Fincher sympathized with his fellow director. He even spoke on his father, the late journalist Jack Fincher, not caring too much for the controversial film. In Fincher's words:
Cancer’s rough. It’s a fucking horrible thing. As far as Paul’s quote, I get it. If you’re in a rough emotional state and you’ve just been through something major...My dad died, and it certainly made me feel different about death and suffering. And my dad probably liked Fight Club even less than Paul did.
David Fincher managed to address Paul Thomas Anderson’s comment without tearing him down. Anderson’s scathing statement came as a response to the killing of one Fight Club character who had testicular cancer in the controversial film.
For David Fincher, Fight Club has become one of his signature films. When it was released in 1999, Fight Club received polarizing reviews from critics and a lukewarm reception at the box office, despite the presence of actors Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. Despite its mixed reception, the film left a lasting cultural impact on film and television, giving it a unique standing in the Hollywood space.
Since the days of Fight Club, David Fincher has become one of Hollywood’s go-to directors. He has gone on to score multiple Oscar nominations for critically acclaimed films such as The Social Network and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. He has also helmed celebrated adaptations of novels, such as Gone Girl and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
In recent years, David Fincher turned his attention to television as executive producer on the Emmy-winning series House of Cards and Mindhunter. Both series ran on Netflix. He also produced the animated anthology Love, Death and Robots for Netflix.
David Fincher’s understanding of Paul Thomas Anderson’s words proved that not only is he a visionary filmmaker, but a decent human being. You can check out his latest film, Mank, on Netflix.