Simon Brew

Jul 12, 2017

How Ernest Dickerson nearly directed Seven, just as the film was about to be canned…

Having had what can best be described as an unpleasant experience making Alien 3, David Fincher was very picky when choosing his second film as director. He eventually opted for Seven, starring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, and the resulting film would set up the film career he’s had since. There’s still an argument that it’s his best film.

However, it wasn’t a movie he was originally set to direct.

Instead, Ernest Dickerson, who broke through with 1992’s Juice, was on the lookout for a horror film to make in the early 90s. On the Post Mortem podcast, he revealed that he changed agents, and “the first two scripts that they gave me… one was Surviving The Game. The other was Seven”.

Spoiler: he didn’t end up directing Seven.

“I read Seven and I wanted to do it. At that time, they were getting ready to throw the script out. Nobody wanted to touch it. Everybody considered it too dark. And so I went in and interviewed. I thought I did a good interview. I had visual aids. Ideas. How to shoot it. They said ‘what about the blood and gore?’ I said ‘you don’t want to see it. You pull back. Make the audience think they saw it.’ I put my best out there”.

His best worked, too, but not in his favour. Eyes opened by Dickerson’s enthusiasm for Andrew Kevin Walker’s screenplay, his new agent told him a few days later that “they were getting ready to throw that script in the trash. You told them how they could make it. You told them that it could be a great horror film”.

Thus, expectations were upgraded, and the Seven team went looking for an A-list director and an A-list. “And I swear to god”, Dickerson added, “I gave them the idea”.

“I mentioned the idea that the older officer should be African American. And the younger guy. I said maybe Johnny Depp. I said, ‘but I just saw this movie called Thelma & Louise. And there’s this guy in it… Brad Pitt. I think he’s gonna turn into something’”.

Dickerson would direct Surviving The Game instead of Seven. The full podcast interview is here.

Bloody Disgusting