With only a handful of credits tucked under his belt, wunderkind prodigy David Fincher became one of the most celebrated artists to scale the heights of Tinseltown during the late '90s and early 2000s. Although Fincher met with some derision early on, as the director of the critically excoriated Alien 3 in 1992, his work on Seven three years down the road won him critical approval and unanimous acceptance across the industry, and marked only the beginning of an influential, splashy career.
Born on May 10, 1962, Fincher originally hailed from Denver. Like one of his predecessors, the infamous Kenneth Anger, he stepped behind a camera at the tender age of eight and, particularly inspired by the work of George Lucas, reeled in his first major industry job ten years later at Lucas' own Industrial Light and Magic. After his four-year stint at ILM, during which he worked on such productions as Return of the Jedi (1983) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Fincher helmed commercials and music videos for the likes of Aerosmith, Paula Abdul, and Madonna. Following the disappointment of Alien 3, his directorial debut, the filmmaker received Andrew Kevin Walker's screenplay for Seven, and almost immediately signed on to helm it; it reached cinemas in late 1995. A noirish, grimly atmospheric crime thriller starring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt as detectives following the gruesome trail of a serial killer (Kevin Spacey), innumerable critics hailed the picture as one of the most innovative and unsettling of the decade, and duly established its director as one of Hollywood's most exciting and unusual new talents. Relentlessly grim and oozing with rancid cynicism, this A-budget feature strayed so far from the escapist fare that typically primes a film for mainstream box-office success that many insiders anticipated limited appeal, but Fincher's stylistic panache and inhibition-defying gutsiness turned Seven into a runaway smash, on both commercial and critical fronts. Because the acclaim surrounding Seven made the relatively unknown Fincher one of Hollywood's hottest young directors, considerable anticipation and buzz surrounded his follow-up, The Game. Released in 1997 and starring Michael Douglas as a soulless attorney who becomes caught up in the sinister, Kafka-esque machinations of the titular scheme, the work boasted almost as much feel-bad cynicism as Seven, but failed to resonate with audiences or critics who found it hopelessly convoluted and shallow.