The true story of the investigation of the “Zodiac Killer”, a serial killer who terrified the San Francisco Bay Area, taunting police with his ciphers and letters. The case becomes an obsession for three men as their lives and careers are built and destroyed by the endless trail of clues.

Credits: TheMovieDb.

Film Cast:

  • Dave Toschi: Mark Ruffalo
  • Robert Graysmith: Jake Gyllenhaal
  • Paul Avery: Robert Downey Jr.
  • Bill Armstrong: Anthony Edwards
  • Melanie: Chloë Sevigny
  • Melvin Belli: Brian Cox
  • Arthur Leigh Allen: John Carroll Lynch
  • Jack Mulanax: Elias Koteas
  • Captain Martin Lee: Dermot Mulroney
  • Templeton Peck: John Getz
  • Charles Thieriot: John Terry
  • Captain Ken Narlow: Donal Logue
  • Duffy Jennings: Adam Goldberg
  • Zodiac 1 / Zodiac 2: Richmond Arquette
  • Zodiac 3: Bob Stephenson
  • Zodiac 4: John Lacy
  • Al Hyman: Ed Setrakian
  • Carol Fisher: Candy Clark
  • Mrs. Toschi: June Diane Raphael
  • Darlene Ferrin: Ciara Hughes
  • Linda del Buono: Clea DuVall
  • Young Mike Mageau: Lee Norris
  • Mike Mageau: Jimmi Simpson
  • Officer George Bawart: James Le Gros
  • Sherwood Morrill: Philip Baker Hall
  • Bryan Hartnell: Patrick Scott Lewis
  • Cecilia Shepard: Pell James
  • Father: David Lee Smith
  • Lab Tech Dagitz: Jason Wiles
  • Cabbie / Paul Stine: Charles Schneider
  • Shorty: James Carraway
  • Jim Dunbar: Tom Verica
  • Belli’s Housekeeper: Doan Ly
  • Woman: Karina Logue
  • Inspector Kracke: Joel Bissonnette
  • Mel Nicolai: Zach Grenier
  • Riverside Captain: John Mahon
  • John Allen: Matt Winston
  • Catherine Allen: Jules Bruff
  • Terry Pascoe: John Ennis
  • Police Commissioner: J. Patrick McCormack
  • Bob Vaughn: Charles Fleischer
  • Sandy Panzarella: Paul Schulze
  • Detective #1: Adam Trese
  • Mulanax’s Secretary: Penny Wallace
  • Donald Cheney: John Hemphill
  • Man on Marquee: Michel Francoeur
  • Copy Editor #1: Thomas Kopache
  • Copy Editor #3: Barry Livingston
  • Copy Editor #4: Christopher John Fields
  • Staff Editor: Stanley B. Herman
  • Kathleen Johns: Ione Skye
  • Detective Roy (uncredited): Brett Rickaby
  • David Graysmith (uncredited): Micah Sauers
  • Hardware Store Customer (uncredited): Hayati Akbas
  • Vallejo Desk Ofiicer (uncredited): David Winston Barge
  • Patrolman Zelms (uncredited): Geoff Callan
  • Camera Man (uncredited): Brad Carr
  • Director (uncredited): JD Cullum
  • FBI Codebreaker (uncredited): Rod Damer
  • Florence Douglas (uncredited): Judith Drake
  • Reporter (uncredited): Mitchell Fink
  • Traveler (uncredited): Erica Ford
  • Anchorman (uncredited): Ted Garcia
  • Bettye Harden (uncredited): Gloria Grant
  • Informant (uncredited): Tish Hicks
  • Prison Guard (uncredited): Phoebe Holston
  • Truck Driver (uncredited): Michael Hungerford
  • Police Receptionist (uncredited): Janis Jones
  • Distraught African American Male (uncredited): Roy Lee Jones
  • Society Woman (uncredited): Anna Katarina
  • Pinole Foreman (uncredited): Marty Lodge
  • Prisoner (uncredited): Danielle McKee
  • Internal Affairs Agent (uncredited): Cazimir Milostan
  • Informant (uncredited): Betty Murphy
  • Newscaster (uncredited): Dave Nemeth
  • Office Worker (uncredited): Derris Nile
  • DOD Project Leader (uncredited): James Joseph O’Neil
  • Informant (uncredited): Jeff Daniel Phillips
  • Janie (uncredited): Carmen Plumb
  • Patrolman Fouke (uncredited): Peter Quartaroli
  • Navy Project Leader (uncredited): Michael Rose
  • Young David Graysmith (uncredited): Jack Samson
  • Aaron Graysmith (uncredited): Zachary Sauers
  • TV News Anchor (uncredited): Bill Seward
  • Child Witness (uncredited): Callie Thompson
  • Internal Affairs Agent (uncredited): Cooper Thornton
  • Uniform Cop (uncredited): Cassius Willis
  • Informant (uncredited): Shane Woodson

Film Crew:

  • Set Decoration: Victor J. Zolfo
  • Costume Design: Casey Storm
  • Director: David Fincher
  • Producer: Ceán Chaffin
  • Casting: Laray Mayfield
  • Supervising Sound Editor: Ren Klyce
  • Supervising Sound Editor: Richard Hymns
  • Original Music Composer: David Shire
  • Director of Photography: Harris Savides
  • Editor: Angus Wall
  • Art Direction: Keith P. Cunningham
  • Producer: James Vanderbilt
  • Book: Robert Graysmith
  • Producer: Mike Medavoy
  • Producer: Arnold Messer
  • Producer: Brad Fischer
  • Production Design: Donald Graham Burt
  • Music Supervisor: Randall Poster
  • Unit Production Manager: Daniel M. Stillman
  • Stunt Coordinator: Mickey Giacomazzi
  • Still Photographer: Merrick Morton
  • Music Supervisor: George Drakoulias
  • Makeup Artist: Amy Schmiederer
  • Makeup Department Head: Felicity Bowring
  • Costume Supervisor: Stacy Horn
  • Sound mixer: Drew Kunin
  • Sound Effects Editor: Addison Teague
  • Sound Re-Recording Mixer: Michael Semanick
  • Music Editor: Bryan Lawson
  • Dialogue Editor: Richard Quinn
  • Sound Effects Editor: David C. Hughes
  • Sound Re-Recording Mixer: David Parker
  • Rigging Gaffer: John R. Manocchia
  • Hairstylist: Miia Kovero
  • Dialogue Editor: Malcolm Fife
  • Music Editor: Jonathon Stevens
  • Hair Department Head: Kelvin R. Trahan
  • Key Hair Stylist: Trish Almeida
  • Executive Producer: Louis Phillips
  • Music Editor: Martin Erskine
  • Script Supervisor: Kristine Kelly

Movie Reviews:

  • John Chard: Peerless precision from Fincher.

    I have seen it written that this film shows that Fincher had grown up, and whilst I understand that train of thought, it simply isn’t true. What Fincher has done is give a true story his meticulous care and standard deft precision by leaving no stone unturned. We get simply one of the (if not thee) best films to deal with the investigating process of a high profile serial killer, a film that as a character study is actually essential viewing in the pantheon of genre productions.

    The devilish greatness of this film is in the fact that it can’t pay off with a pandering mainstream ending, the makers are telling a true story and any sort of research will lead viewers to the fact that there is no twist here, no joyous ticket selling round of applause at this ending, it is what it is, frustratingly brilliant. The case the film is about consumes all involved with it, and to see how it affects those involved is engrossing (yet sad) because if the viewer is so inclined to jump on board then it will consume you as well, the film and the actors within demand you see this for the affecting character piece it is.

    The acting here gives me hope that classic acting is alive and well in this generation, I was once not enamoured with Mark Ruffalo in his early days as an actor, but here he puts such heartfelt verve into the role of David Toschi I felt I need to send him a written apology!. Robert Downey Junior is joyous as Paul Avery, all 60s chic and swagger without tipping over the edge of the mountain caricature (both men to become future Avengers of course). Yet surprisingly to me I found that it is Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith who is the film’s key axis, the central heartbeat, with a performance that demands undivided attention, a performance brought about by Fincher’s quest for perfection from everything to do with film making. Gyllenhaal hated working on the film, he hated Fincher’s work ethic, but in time he must now look back and see that here the director coaxed out a performance that has in time been seen as not only great, but also beneficial to his career (hello Nightcrawler).

    This is not Se7en 2, and British film mags like Empire should have known better than to use that tag line to get the readers’ attention, because fans of serial killer thrillers need not apply here, fans of outstanding cinema about the human psyche during the pursuit of a serial killer – Well get in line folks, for this is one of the best movies of the decade. 10/10

  • MSB: If you enjoy reading my Spoiler-Free reviews, please follow my blog @

    If you’ve been following me closely for the past week, I’m currently (re)watching five of David Fincher’s films in preparation for his next movie, Mank, which premieres on Netflix in a couple of weeks. I’ve already revisited Se7en and Fight Club, two iconic films that not only profoundly impacted filmmaking but also our culture. However, Zodiac isn’t one of Fincher’s most popular movies, and maybe that’s one of the reasons why I’m watching it for the very first time. Based on a real story, Fincher’s first non-fiction adaptation is also one of the longest films of his career. I didn’t know anything about the true events before watching this movie, which leads me to the biggest compliment I can offer to this type of film.

    There are hundreds of characteristics that a viewer can observe, analyze, and through them, ultimately form an overall opinion about a movie. Nevertheless, when it comes to cinematic adaptations of a true story, there’s always one aspect that I value tremendously, which is how much the film convinces me to research about its story after I finish watching it. Truth is, midway through Zodiac, I started to acknowledge its lengthy duration. Don’t be mistaken. It’s not what people call a “slow movie”, much on the contrary. It’s long, yes, but it’s packed with non-stop, rapid-fire dialogues that Fincher himself asked the actors to speed up so that the runtime wouldn’t stretch even more.

    Throughout the entire film, I feel the exact same manner as the main characters. For the first hour or so, the case is ramping up, the murders increase in quantity, new developments emerge, just like new suspects, letters, ciphers, and everything that comes with dealing with this serial killer. During this period, I feel extremely captivated, but then comes a phase where the characters themselves start to give up due to the lack of concrete evidence to finally convict a suspect. I feel the frustration, depression, and even the infuriating absence of a clear path to the killer. However, Robert Graysmith’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) obsession with the case starts becoming my own, and the last thirty minutes are incredibly stressful, frightful, and enthusiastic.

    Zodiac possesses 157 minutes, mostly consisting of talking and only a couple of stylish, slow-motion murder scenes, so obviously, this is a dialogue-driven narrative. James Vanderbilt’s screenplay is packed with detailed characterization, extensive conversations, and from what I could gather, an impressive historical accuracy. Fincher and Vanderbilt prove their unbelievable commitment with the mind-blowing preparation for this flick, which basically included an entirely unique investigation on the real case (interviewing the people who give life to the movie’s protagonists, family members, police departments, witnesses, etc.). Yet another evidence that supports the importance of the pre-production phase in filmmaking.

    So, in case I forget to answer my own question, Zodiac achieved its primary mission. As soon as the film ended, I found myself googling everything about the real case, trying to find out new information, obsessed with the intriguing story. It doesn’t even matter if the viewer loves the movie or not, its impact is undeniable since most people will feel the same urgency to understand more about the real case. Two other attributes deeply contribute to this result: the cast and the editing. The latter is performed by Angus Wall, and his work is some of the best film editing I’ve ever witnessed. It’s the main reason why the huge runtime feels adequate and why the narrative moves so well. No wonder almost every job of his got so many award nominations.

    Finally, the actors are all extraordinary. Mark Ruffalo (Dave Toschi), Anthony Edwards (Bill Armstrong), Robert Downey Jr. (Paul Avery), and Jake Gyllenhaal portray distinct, well-developed characters who deal with the case in their own way. Obsession is definitely the fundamental social theme present in the movie, depicted differently with each character. Armstrong completely moves on and never looks back. Toschi tries to forget, but he can’t accept that he failed to do his job. Avery develops a mental condition and/or addiction due to its inability to deal with the pressure, stress, and frustration of reporting the case. Graysmith lets his total obsession over Zodiac impact his personal life, affecting his family in the process.

    Fincher is able to represent each and every one of these behaviors in an astonishingly realistic fashion. The use of long uninterrupted takes helps the conversations flow better, and the simple, non-distracting camera work from Harry Savides lets the viewer focus on who they’re listening to. It’s one of those films which I can’t really point out direct flaws. There’s that period during the second act where I start to feel tired and worn out, and despite the irreprehensible dedication to providing every single bit of knowledge about the actual events, it’s still an enormous amount of information to process, which made me feel a bit lost occasionally. Fortunately, the movie ends strongly, culminating in a simple yet powerful exchange of looks.

    All in all, Zodiac gains the most generous praise that a film based on a true story can ever receive from me. James Vanderbilt’s screenplay convinced me to research everything about the real events as soon as the movie finished, which is undeniably an impactful effect of watching such a well-written, captivating narrative with well-developed, authentic characters. David Fincher’s commitment to being as historically accurate as possible is visible on-screen, a remarkable result of a massive preparation that very few filmmakers would even think about performing. With some of the best editing work in the history of cinema, the lengthy runtime flows better than expected, but the amount of information to digest is overwhelming and tiresome, dropping the levels of entertainment, especially during a certain period of the second act. Nevertheless, a phenomenal third act, three outstanding performances from Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., and Jake Gyllenhaal, and an emotionally compelling, realistic approach to extreme obsession turn the entire film into one of the best of its genre. Another massive recommendation from this side.

    Rating: A-

  • JPV852: A great character driven crime-drama with wonderful performances from Gyllenhaal, Ruffalo and Downey Jr. Been a few years since I last saw this one but decided to give it a re-watch (seen it I think five times now including the rated version in theaters and then DVD). Even though it’s 2.75 hours, never gets dull and is engrossing through and through, even if the conclusion might not be accurate. **4.5/5**

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