Gillian Flynn’s massively popular, nail-biting bestseller “Gone Girl” adapted to screen by director David Fincher and produced by blockbuster filmmakers Arnon Milchan, Joshua Donen with Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon (also as producer) takes Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike at the center of a couple’s marriage that has gone from bliss to national issue when the Mrs. vanished on the day of their fifth year wedding anniversary.
Nick Dunne arrives home on his fifth wedding anniversary to find the front door ajar, furniture strewn in the living room and not a single trace of his beautiful, semi-famous wife. Thus begins his instant public transformation from fortunate husband to man flailing in the media spotlight. Tagged as the proverbial suspect No. 1, the former town golden boy erupts in a series of lies, deceits and inappropriateness that does him no favors. His media persona is not pretty: he has disappointments; he has resentments; he has the kinds of secrets that feed imaginations. But is Nick a killer?
The entire cast, each of whom puts Nick under a different microscope – investigating Nick, defending Nick, suspecting Nick — impressed Affleck. He says: “There are a lot of interesting choices. Tyler Perry has never done this sort of character, Carrie Coon is so unexpected as Go, and Neil is a brilliant choice because he’s so fearless and you have no idea what’s really going on inside him. This casting is the sign of a director whose interest is in always surprising the audience.”
Among the possible suspects in Amy’s disappearance are former boyfriends, including Desi Collings, Amy’s long-suffering ex from prep school who, though breathtakingly wealthy, has continued to write her lovelorn letters. Taking the role is stage, screen and television star Neil Patrick Harris.
Harris gained notoriety on the small screen as the much-adored title character in “Doogie Howser, M.D.,” a role which also garnered him a Golden Globe nomination. Created by Steven Bochco and David E. Kelley, the television comedy-drama ran for four seasons and told the story of a brilliant, young doctor who faced the problems of being a normal teenager.
Like so many, Harris was stunned by the novel. “It was one of my favorite books of all time,” he says. “I loved that Gillian was able to write so perceptively from the point of view of both sexes. It was also among the most unsettling books I’ve read. I felt it really broke down the myths of what relationships are and this whole fairy tale ideal that partners can always share everything.”
Desi, Harris notes, has his own fairytale ideas of who Amy is and how they might end up together. “He’s somewhat delusional,” observes Harris. “But your first lover never really leaves you and Amy was certainly that for Desi. So he’s blinded by this undying idea that they’re meant to be.”
Harris notes that Desi is not alone in his reaction to Amy, though he has his own reasons. “Amy seems to have a strong power over everyone in her life but especially men who desire her,” he says. “She kind of sucks you into her vacuum. I think Desi is a little socially off, so he likes the idea of that. He’s rich but he’s the recipient of family money that was never earned so he doesn’t have a strong sense of himself. I see him as weirdly fragile in his own right. There’s something heightened about him, but I felt I really needed to understand why he behaves the way he does.”
Working with Fincher for the first time was also a revelation. “I’ve been a big fan of what he has created on screen but watching him create in person made me even more so,” he says. “He has such deep passion for the entirety of the filmmaking process — from light refractions and dolly moves to pacing and the written word. He is a true director in the most dynamic sense.”
Harris especially enjoyed Fincher’s way of peering into the infinitesimal details of performance. “It felt like we were all in a kind of meditation together,” he says, “and you knew by the time David was happy, a scene had been distilled to its essence. I think he’s a visual poet, nay, a sculptor. He takes a moment and chips away until he gets at something true.”
Neil Patrick Harris recently concluded his run as the womanizing Barney Stinson in the hit CBS comedy series, “How I Met Your Mother,” a role which has garnered him multiple Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominations, as well as two People’s Choice Awards for Favorite TV Comedy Actor, and a Critics’ Choice Award for Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. Harris is a five-time Emmy Award winner for his guest-starring role on “Glee,” and his role as host of the 63rd, 65th, 66th and 67th Annual Tony Awards. He also served as host and producer of the 61st and 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, as well as the 67th Annual Tony Awards. Named one of the “2008 Entertainers of the Year” by Entertainment Weekly, Neil was included on Time Magazine’s 2010 Time 100 List, an annual list of the world’s leading thinkers, leaders, artists, and heroes.
Find out what happened to Amy in “Gone Girl” when it opens in cinemas nationwide on October 8 from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.