AFP

PARIS

A troubled detective hunting a serial killer in rural Louisiana, a chemistry teacher with inoperable lung cancer reinvented as a drugs kingpin, a bisexual woman doing jail time for aiding and abetting her drug mule ex-girlfriend.

Hollywood’s David Fincher says all the most interesting characters have gone to television - and audiences have followed them. Fincher, who directed the first two episodes of online streaming giant Netflix’s “House of Cards”, insists he hasn’t given up on movies. His latest film - the mystery thriller “Gone Girl” - has just topped the US box office on its debut weekend with estimated takings of $38 million.

But the film-maker, who directed Brad Pitt in “Seven” and “Fight Club”, believes the huge critical and commercial success of television series such as “True Detective”, “Breaking Bad” and “Orange is the New Black” holds important lessons for Hollywood.

“They call it the golden age of television. Right now people are discovering television because it’s where all the most interesting characters have gone,” he told reporters in Paris.

“Those are the characters that get to say that they’re about something and then behave in a way that maybe refutes that. You don’t get to do that in movies,” he said.

“Breaking Bad”, starring actor Bryan Cranston as the teacher-turned-master criminal Walter White, won this year’s best drama at the Emmy Awards, television’s equivalent of the Oscars.

Comedy-drama “Orange is the New Black”, set in a women’s prison, has also earned plaudits, while “True Detective” featuring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson has been similarly hailed for its mastery. Fincher said Hollywood’s love affair with big-budget “destruction” and “spectacle” movies meant there was inevitably less space for more character-driven films.

“(It’s all) ‘I’ve just trashed Chicago, we’ve got to get to Toronto and destroy that too’. They’re a much more hyper experience.” The fact that “Gone Girl” got made for around $50 million proved it “doesn’t always have to be about people in spandex”, he said.

But he added that for most writers and directors television was the place that offered the most creative freedom.

“For the most part television is the place where you can take a character... and really look at what makes them tick.

“The trade off is that you’re not spending $20 million an hour, you’re spending $5 million an hour so if you can work in a more intimate way, television has a lot (to offer).” Actors too had changed their attitude to television, he said.

“There’s a blurring of the lines, whereas 10 years ago It was very much actors going ‘I do movies, I don’t want to do TV’.

“There was kind of this idea ‘I can’t be bothered’ and now I think people are going where the stories are.”