Gone Girl's Bloody Sex Scene Was Just As Meticulous As You'd Expect From David Fincher

David Fincher's borderline obsessive strive for perfection has earned him a reputation for being one of Hollywood's most meticulous directors. Michael Alan Kahn, who worked under Fincher as the assistant director during the 1995 crime-mystery "Se7en," provided insight into Fincher's mindset when he recalled to The Ringer a telling exchange the two had on set:

"I went up to Fincher and I said, 'Look at this! Look! It's here! We're here! You did it! We're shooting a movie! There's Morgan Freeman. There's Brad [Pitt]. There's Kevin Spacey ... Isn't this amazing? Isn't this wonderful? This is what you wanted.' And he looked at me as though I were from outer space and said, 'No, it's awful.' And I looked at him and I said, 'Why is it awful?' And he said, and I mean sincerely, 'Because now I have to get what's in my head out of all you cretins.'"

Before "Se7en," Fincher spent time directing music videos and commercials after his feature directorial debut, "Alien 3," was deemed a failure. Kahn was there for that too. They directed a Heineken commercial in an airplane. Fincher spent nearly 6 hours just setting the scene. In the time that it would take a jet leaving LAX to land at JFK, Fincher decorated the aircraft, tinkered with the lights, sprayed the right amount of spritz on the beer bottle and made sure the brew sat in the right position. 

"Every aspect of every aspect was considered and perfected," Kahn said. And Fincher took this same approach while directing one of the most disturbing scenes in his 2014 psychological thriller "Gone Girl."

Shooting the scene included many repetitive takes

"Gone Girl" follows Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), a teacher and bar owner who becomes the prime suspect in the sudden disappearance of his pregnant wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike). As brilliantly accentuated through Nick's unsympathetic and awkward demeanor at press conferences and the revelation of his secret extramarital affair, the film is a callback to the media frenzies surrounding real-life wife killers in the 2000s. (Scott Peterson immediately comes to mind.) 

But the twist in "Gone Girl" is that Nick's wife is no innocent victim. Not only does Amy orchestrate her own disappearance as part of a ruse to frame her husband for her planned death by suicide, she manipulates a gullible ex-boyfriend, Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris), into giving her shelter and then brutally slashes his throat during intercourse. The scene is so unexpected and psychologically terrifying that if I had seen it as a kid, I probably would have had nightmares about it the same way I had them about the Norman Bates shower scene.   

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Neil Patrick Harris explained that filming the scene was a challenge because director David Fincher made him and Pike rehearse for two to three hours, and when they finally started filming, they had to reshoot it take after take after take. He elaborated:

"David Fincher wanted us to be doing everything exactly the same way every single take, so that when we flopped down on the bed, he wanted to make sure that we flopped down on the bed at pretty much the exact same position every time. Not three o'clock on the dial and then twelve o'clock on the dial, but exactly two o'clock on the dial, so that when he's editing it, he has multiple options."

David Fincher even required a certain number of mouth thrusts

Harris further explained that though he understood David Fincher's logic for having him and Rosamund Pike repeat the exact same movements every single take, he felt that it was weird to do so in a sex scene because "you wanna have the freedom to be fooling around a bit." Fincher, however, wasn't having any of that. 

The director even required the two actors to execute a selected number of certain "mouth thrusts" that simulate the performance of a sexual act every take. "And that was freaky and hard and a challenge, but kind of exciting," Harris said. They performed the sex scene up until the throat slash about 30 times. Then they would shoot the bloody murder sequence, take a shower and return to the set to shoot that sequence again; they repeated this until it satisfied Fincher . 

Beside Fincher's meticulous directing, Harris also found enacting his death challenging. "I don't know how you get your throat slit," he said. "So, I watched a bunch of videos of animals who'd got their throats slit." What is particularly enthralling about that scene from a cinematic lens, beside all the blood, is that Harris' character gets his throat slit right as he reaches an orgasm. This directorial decision, Harris said, made performing his death a little bit easier since he was already performing orgasmic, contorted facial expressions. 

Say what you will about Fincher's hardnose approach, but the man is a maestro. And the bloody sex scene in "Gone Girl" is one of the most eerie scenes I've ever seen. "It was just as gross and nasty as it gets," Harris said. "It still, to me, feels very Hitchcock-y and artistic."