David Fincher nearly made his upcoming Netflix film, Mank, in the 1990s, and that version would have starred Kevin Spacey and Jodie Foster.
David Fincher’s been trying to get his upcoming film, Mank, off the ground since the ’90s and, in that time, it went through several iterations—including one which could have starred Kevin Spacey and Jodie Foster. Mank is Fincher’s first film since 2014’s Gone Girl and it’s something of a departure from his standard fare: shot in black-and-white, the film takes place in the 1930s and follows screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) as he scrambles to finish the script for Citizen Kane and deliver it to Orson Welles (Tom Burke). The screenplay for Mank was written by Fincher’s father, Jack, who passed away in 2003.
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Fincher came close to making Mank once before, in the late ’90s, after he’d completed The Game. The now-defunct PolyGram Filmed Entertainment was interested in the project, but was wary of its eccentricities. PolyGram wanted Fincher to shoot the film in color, then convert it to black-and-white in post. Fincher balked at the idea and the deal fell apart.
Before things with PolyGram went south, though, Fincher started to assemble a cast. Variety reports it would have included Spacey as Mankiewicz and Jodie Foster as Marion Davies, William Randolph Hearst’s mistress. In the upcoming film, Davies is played by Amanda Seyfried. Fincher called the situation with PolyGram “truly stupid,” adding:
“We would have had to have shot the film in color and then corrected it and do a black-and-white version. It completely fell apart.”
It’s not hard to see why Fincher wanted Spacey for the lead role in Mank. They’d worked together before; Spacey turned in a genuinely terrifying performance as John Doe in Fincher’s 1995 crime thriller Se7en. And, in 1996, Spacey won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for The Usual Suspects. At the time, Spacey likely seemed like the perfect choice for a talented, magnetic actor who could really lose himself in a role. Foster, too, was a huge name in the ’90s with the accolades to back it up. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Accused in 1989 and again in 1992 for Silence of the Lambs. On paper, the duo should have been brilliant together.
But, in the end, it’s probably a good thing Fincher never made that version of Mank. No matter how good it was, its legacy would have been tainted by Spacey and the sexual assault allegations that have plagued him since 2017. Spacey has become a Hollywood pariah, causing viewers to reevaluate his entire body of work. Fincher later worked with Foster on his 2002 thriller Panic Room, so fans don’t have to wonder how a collaboration between the two would have worked out. The only unfortunate thing about Mank not getting made back in the ’90s is that Fincher’s father never got to see his vision realized onscreen.
Next: Every David Fincher Movie, Ranked From Worst To Best
Key Release Dates
- Mank (2020)Release date: Dec 04, 2020
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