David Fincher is in town today for the world premiere of The Killer starring Michael Fassbender as an assassin who battles his employers, and himself, on an international manhunt while insisting none of it is personal.
Fassbender, who’s got a side career as a race car driver, was Fincher’s first choice for the titular role. The filmmaker told the Venice press corps today, “Had we had not been able to fit into his window between racing seasons, we probably wouldn’t have made the movie.”
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From Netflix, The Killer marks a return to genre for the director of SE7EN and Fight Club. Why choose to feature an assassin this time around? Said Fincher, “The task at hand is relatable, it’s dramatic, it’s high stakes and in a lot of ways it’s extremely procedural, there are a lot of boxes that you need to tick before you exhale and pull.” Still, he added, “I didn’t really think of the movie as an assassin movie, I think of it more as a revenge movie.”
The eponymous killer is heard in an internal monologue voiceover throughout the film, and today Fincher posited, “Why is it we feel that when we’ve intercepted the thoughts of a character that they’re telling the truth? We all know a lot of people who lie to themselves. I like the idea of the assassin who has to, in order to differentiate what it is he does from serial killing, he has to in some way create a code for himself. And then I like the idea of that code being dismantled by his needs, by necessity.”
While the character, Fincher insisted, “Didn’t need to be frightening,” he added brightly, “My hope is that someone will see this film and then get very nervous about the person behind them in line at Home Depot.”
However, it’s not all dark. Quipped Fincher, “If you’re talking about really heinous violence, it’s always good to have a little bit of humor in there.”
Fassbender, nor any of the cast including Tilda Swinton (who Fincher called “a unicorn”) are here on the Lido owing to the SAG-AFTRA strike. Asked for his take on the strife, he said, “I’m very sad. Obviously I sit in the middle of both parties. This movie was made during the pandemic and I never want to make a movie again through a visor or with goggles. But having said that, we just got done with three years of having to set our rushes down and walk away. The idea of that continuing on, especially now, is very sad to me. I can understand both sides and I think all we can do is encourage them to talk.”
The Killer, based on Alexis Nolent (pen name: Matz) and Luc Jacamon’s graphic novel series, and also stars Charles Parnell, Arliss Howard and Sophie Charlotte. Andrew Kevin Walker adapted the graphic novel. The pic hits domestic theaters on October 27, then launches on the streamer November 10.
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