Edward Norton ... The Narrator
Brad Pitt ... Tyler Durden
Helena Bonham Carter ... Marla Singer
Jared Leto ... Angel Face
Meat Loaf ... Robert Paulson
Producer Ross Bell met with actor Russell Crowe to discuss his candidacy for the role of Tyler Durden. Producer Art Linson, who joined the project late, met with another candidate, Brad Pitt. Linson was the senior producer of the two, so the studio sought to cast Pitt instead of Crowe. Pitt was looking for a new film after the failure of his 1998 film Meet Joe Black, and the studio believed Fight Club would be more commercially successful with a major star. The studio signed Pitt and offered him a $17.5 million salary.
For the role of the unnamed narrator, the studio desired a "sexier marquee name" like Matt Damon to increase the film's commercial prospects; it also considered Sean Penn. Fincher instead considered Edward Norton a candidate for the role, based on the actor's performance in the 1996 film The People vs. Larry Flynt. Other studios were approaching Norton for leading roles in developing films like The Talented Mr. Ripley and Man on the Moon. The actor was cast in Runaway Jury, but the film did not reach production. 20th Century Fox offered Norton a $2.5 million salary to attract him to Fight Club. Norton could not accept the offer immediately since he still owed Paramount Pictures a film. He signed a contractual obligation with Paramount to appear in one of the studio's future films for a smaller salary (Norton satisfied the obligation with his role in the 2003 film The Italian Job).
In January 1998, 20th Century Fox announced that Brad Pitt and Edward Norton were cast in the film. The actors prepared for their roles by taking lessons in boxing, taekwondo, grappling, and soapmaking. Pitt voluntarily visited a dentist to have pieces of his front teeth chipped off so his character would not have perfect teeth. The pieces were restored after filming concluded.
Fincher's first choice for the role of Marla Singer was Janeane Garofalo, who objected to the film's sexual content. The filmmakers considered Courtney Love and Winona Ryder as candidates early on. The studio wanted to cast Reese Witherspoon, but Fincher objected that she was too young for the role. He chose to cast Helena Bonham Carter based on her performance in the 1997 film The Wings of the Dove.
Screenwriter Jim Uhls started working on an early draft of the adapted screenplay, which excluded a voice-over because the industry perceived at the time that the technique was "hackneyed and trite". When Fincher joined the film, he thought that the film should have a voice-over, believing that the film's humor came from the narrator's voice. The director described the film without a voice-over as seemingly "sad and pathetic". Fincher and Uhls revised the script for six to seven months and by 1997 had a third draft that reordered the story and left out several major elements. When Pitt was cast, he was concerned that his character, Tyler Durden, was too one-dimensional. Fincher sought the advice of writer-director Cameron Crowe, who suggested giving the character more ambiguity. Fincher also hired…