“He’s extremely efficient, so the team around him has to be very efficient as well,” says Trish Summerville, Mank‘s Oscar-nominated costume designer, as we — along with the film’s best supporting actress nominee Amanda Seyfried, who plays actress Marion Davies, and best makeup and hairstyling nominees Gigi Williams (the makeup department head) and Colleen Labaff (the assistant head hairstylist) — discuss the film’s Oscar-nominated director, David Fincher, during an episode of THR Presents.
Mank, a Netflix film about the alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and the writing of 1941 classic Citizen Kane, was designed to look and sound as if it were made during the same era as Kane. This required special attention from each of these four women. Seyfried had to adopt a pre-Method style of acting. Williams and Labaff had to re-create the looks of specific famous people from that time. And Summerville had to design or obtain clothing that was not only period-appropriate, but that also looked right in black-and-white.
“You guys are geniuses,” Seyfried says to her three fellow artists, noting that without their contributions she could never have given the career-reinventing performance that she did.
Fincher is famously a perfectionist, sometimes shooting dozens upon dozens of takes, and is also regarded as intimidating by many who don’t know him, as was the case for Seyfried and Labaff prior to Mank. But Summerville had previously collaborated with him on music videos, 2011’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and 2014’s Gone Girl, and says, “Every time I work with him I feel like I become a better filmmaker, I become better at my job.” Adds Williams, who worked with him on Gone Girl and the 2017-19 TV series Mindhunter, “I just adore him — he has made me a better makeup artist.”
Whatever Fincher does, it clearly brings out the best in those around him, at least on Mank, which landed 10 Oscar nominations, four more than the next-most-nominated film this year, including best picture.
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