With certain Hollywood classics, getting the perfect shot during filming takes time. And in the case of David Fincher’s 2007 thriller movie Zodiac, sacrifices had to be made for multiple takes. And by sacrifices, we mean bathroom breaks –an issue that actor Robert Downey Jr was willing to go to great lengths to protest.
Zodiac is a detective movie which tells the story of the manhunt for the real-life serial murderer known as the Zodiac Killer, whose violence shocked the world in 1969. Iron Man cast alumni Downey Jr played the role of crime reporter Paul Avery in the film alongside Jake Gyllenhaal’s top-billing character, the political cartoonist Robert Graysmith. Over the years, Zodiac has received acclaim and is often considered one of the best movies the crime genre can offer.
However, filming for the drama movie was gruelling, and according to Fincher’s testimony in the 2012 documentary Side by Side (per Esquire), his vast number of takes for individual scenes led to Downey Jr leaving jars of urine on set.
“Robert Downey actually came up to me and said, ‘I can’t work like this. I never get to go to my trailer,” Fincher explained. “I can never get my shit together. I’m on my feet 14 hours a day.’ He actually left mason jars of urine on the set, like over in the corner. He’d pee and bring it back as a form of protest.”
It should be noted that Fincher’s comment has never fully been confirmed. And even if it isn’t true, it there still seems to be some sort of tension between the pair. Speaking with The New York Times, Downey Jr stated that he ultimately respected Fincher’s craft but made sure to reference the challenging working conditions of the set of Zodiac.
“Sometimes it’s really hard because it might not feel collaborative, but ultimately filmmaking is a director’s medium,” he said. “I just decided, aside from several times I wanted to garrote him, that I was going to give him what he wanted. I think I’m a perfect person to work for him, because I understand gulags.”