Crafting the screenplay that would take her bestseller Gone Girl from page to reel, in a film by David Fincher and starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, Gillian Flynn was comfortable with her three (yes, three) lead characters. More of a challenge was making the internalized plot points visual.
Talking to Newsday, Flynn said,
“It’s a story about storytelling, and in the 24-hour media world, no matter what the content, the media has a disproportionate voice in all our lives. I wanted it to be a third character in a way — Nick, Amy, but also the media. We all weigh in on everybody’s life no matter what. And there seems to be a constant audience monitoring our lives.”
Translating Nick and Amy’s tale — which sold 6 million copies in hardcover alone — Flynn used her third player, the media, to comment on its power to reshape perception and belief about the husband and wife. And during the screenplay-writing process, she swapped pages with director Fincher, whose notes helped accentuate the visual moments that would define their connection and alienation.
Flynn told Newsday,
“It was not the type of book you look at and think you can just slap it onto the movie screen. It’s very internalized, it relies a lot on internal narratives and first-person writing. My first challenge was to externalize what needed to be shown on screen. My concern was once I did that it would be all engine and lose those more specific, character-driven moments. I wanted to make sure I maintained the meat of the relationship.”
To convey the couple’s bond, Flynn sometimes moved beyond the Nick-Amy-media trio, and brought in the viewer’s perspective.
Newsday’s John Anderson describes the scene: Nick is being interrogated and a detective questions why he, as a loving (and non-homicidal) husband, does not know his wife’s blood type.
“‘Should I know my wife’s blood type?’ her partner asks, somewhat guiltily, after Nick has left the room. The answer, essentially, is of course not.
“‘I knew men would be squirming uncomfortably, not knowing their wives’ blood type,’ (Flynn) laughed. ‘How many people know it? I liked that idea, of voicing what every guy in the audience was going to be thinking.’”