By J. Rentilly
A GOOD PERCENTAGE of the 8
million bookworms worldwide
who have devoured Gillian Flynn’s
diabolical thriller Gone Girl have
been surprised at how “normal” the
43-year-old novelist actually is.
Since the October 2014 release of
the critically acclaimed Gone Girl
film, written for the screen by
Flynn, directed by David Fincher
and just released on DVD, additional mobs of
pop culture enthusiasts have been similarly
perplexed. How is it that a whip-smart, effervescent Kansas City native, long and happily
married, mother to a toddler and a newborn,
who just seems so darned nice, is responsible
for a book—and screenplay—so savage, electrifying and occasionally depraved?
We may never get the answer to that question, though the radiant, quick-witted author
was more than happy to discuss the process of
turning her beloved novel into a feature film.
The Costco Connection: What was the
genesis of the Gone Girl novel?
Gillian Flynn: I basically wanted
to write a book about modern marriage. I had written two books that
had dealt with very isolated, very
lonely people, and I wanted to go
the other way. I was a newlywed
myself at the time, very happy, but I
found the writer in me asking,
“How does a marriage go wrong?
How does it go terribly wrong?”
We’re all playacting to some extent in the
early stages of a relationship, but what hap-
pens when five, six, seven years go by, the
masks come off and you realize the person
you married is not so great?
CC: How did you approach writing the
GF: I was so keen on proving to everyone that
I wasn’t going to be overly precious about
adapting my book that I just hacked and
slashed the book into pieces, and wrote a very
streamlined script. When David Fincher came
onto the film, we began working together very
closely, and one of the first things he said was,
“Hang on—let’s put some of the meat back on
From that first draft I wrote, certain
scenes didn’t change much at all when Fincher
and I started working together, and others
changed completely or were cut, and some
were invented for the film because of some-
thing he said or suggested. He forced me to
articulate in the best way that I could exactly
what I was trying to say. Having worked in
print journalism for a long time, I was kind of
used to that process, where your 2,000-word
think piece becomes a 200-word caption. You
roll with it. You make it work.
On Gone Girl, I just happened to be
working with my favorite film director, who
turned out to be an amazing collaborator. I’ve
never heard of anyone else ever having a better first screenwriting experience.
CC: In the casting process, a lot of writers were
hired as actors: Oscar-winning screenwriter
Ben Affleck, screenwriter Tyler Perry, memoir-ist Neil Patrick Harris.
GF: It was a bunch of incredibly smart people, including Rosamund Pike, who may or
may not be a writer, but has a tremendous
amount of brainpower and used it all on figuring out who her character was.
We had almost a month of rehearsals for
the film, and every day we’d come in and
do the script over and over and over, and that
allowed me to really tailor it towards what the
actors were bringing, who they were, where
this was all going. It was a lot of fun for me,
hearing very talented, smart people taking
things that had been stuck in my head and
making it somehow real, making it theirs.
CC: Is there a book-to-movie adaptation that
you really love?
GF: I love The Talented Mr. Ripley. I love the
book [by Patricia Highsmith], but I really
love the film [by Anthony Minghella]. It’s
not always entirely faithful to the novel,
scene by scene, incident by incident, but it
perfectly captures the tone and the feel of
the book, and I think that’s the most important thing. That’s always been one of my
favorite adaptations. C
J. Rentilly is a Los Angeles–based writer.
In our digital editions
Click here to see a trailer for Gone
Girl. (See page 14 for details.)
In like Flynn
Gillian Flynn writes the book
and the screenplay for Gone Girl
Left: Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck)
is questioned by detectives
about his wife’s disappearance,
as her parents watch. Below:
Dunne pleads with searchers
to find his wife.
The Costco Connection
Gone Girl, the book (#877104) and Blu-ray/
Digital HD movie (#968482; available 1/13)
are available at all Costco warehouses.
arts & entertainment