scenes of great
By Nancy Mills
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
© 2012 UNIVERSAL S TUDIOS. ALL RIGH TS RESERVED
UNTIL HE SIGNED on to direct The Girl
with the Dragon Tattoo, David Fincher was
best known for his work on The Social Network, Fight Club and Se7en. The 49-year-old
Northern Californian envisioned the popular
Stieg Larsson thriller as a relationship movie.
The Girl with the
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KIM PHILBY was one of history’s master
spies, the mole who betrayed Britain and
incidentally unmasked a junior agent
named David Cornwell in 1964. Cornwell
remasked himself as John le Carré and 10
years later wrote Tinker Tailor Soldier
Spy—about George Smiley, a retired master spy brought back from retirement to
uncover a mole in Britain’s intelligence
agency—as a kind of revenge.
CC: Smiley doesn’t talk a lot.
PS: He’s a listener and a watcher. He doesn’t
give things away. Alec Guinness wasn’t the
only Smiley. Gary believes an ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words. If there’s ever
a Smiley action figure, you’ll press a switch
on its back and it won’t say anything.
CC: Did the TV miniseries influence you?
PS: It was virtually a page-by-page adaptation
of the book. We watched it once, just
to excise the shadow looming over us. It was
inspirational and made us want to do just as
good a job. Le Carré encouraged us to go further away from the book. What drew me was
the emotional story. These characters are
very stiff-upper-lip, but you’ve got four men
crying in this film. That doesn’t happen often.
The Costco Connection: Is Tattoo really
just about a guy and a girl?
David Fincher: I understand the geo-socio-political ramifications of what Larsson was
talking about, and I understand his passion
for fighting fascism and misogyny. You could
say The Godfather is a story of the Sicilian
Mafia in America, and that is what’s happening in the background. But the foreground is
a story of a family. So I was always focused on
the little story—the foreground.
CC: What was your biggest challenge?
Peter Straughan: Adapting a good novel
is hard and easy. It’s hard because a lot of
things happen inside the characters’
heads, and that means less action and
plot. But it’s easy because the material is
so much better, the characters are beautifully drawn and the dialogue is good.
Writing the script became more like writing a poem of the book.
CC: What does the British intelligence
community think of the film?
PS: MI5 asked to see it, and for some reason
they have a cinema. So we went into this
bunker, a screen came up and all these spies
trooped in and watched it. They all apparently liked it. Probably the spy business never
changes that much because human nature
doesn’t change that much. Betrayal is part of
human nature, but so is loyalty. C
Lisbeth in the Swedish version] had because
audiences didn’t have a history with her.
the book. I just looked at what he had homed
CC: How did you choose your guy—Daniel
Craig—and your girl—Rooney Mara?
DF: Daniel was perfect because I needed
someone who could walk the line between
being extremely masculine and also very self-effacing. Rooney is fearless. She’s got a very
direct way of acting. There’s just a moment for
them to get all googly-eyed. We’ve got a murderer to catch.
54 ;e Costco Connection MARCH 2012
CC: Did you want a bigger-name actress?
DF: We read more established actresses, but
we felt we had to make our own Lisbeth. It was
not like Julia Roberts or bust. We talked about
the kind of power Noomi Rapace [who played
CC: How instrumental were you in Rooney’s
DF: You cast people because of what they’re
going to bring to it. If I have to tell an actor, “I
want you to do it this way,” then I failed. The
actor’s job is to be on the inside looking out.
The director’s job is to be on the outside looking in.
CC: Did you see the Swedish original and, if
so, how did it color your approach?
DF: I saw the original once and liked it, but
felt there was room for something else.
[Screenwriter] Steve Zaillian had the unfortunate job of throwing away more than half
CC: Any concerns that the ;lm is too violent?
DF: The studio said, “It’s a hard R. We get it.
It’s not for kids. We’ll never have a PG- 13. We
want you to do the book justice.” But you have
to continually ask yourself, “Do I want to rub
the audience’s nose in it?” I need it to be effective. I need it to be shocking. But I also need
to get on with it. C
The Costco Connection
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (available
3/20), My Week with Marilyn (3/13), and
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (3/20) will be in all