Jesse Eisenberg and Quint talk Mark Zuckerberg and THE SOCIAL NETWORK!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a chat I had with the star of David Fincher’s THE SOCIAL NETWORK Jesse Eisenberg. I was introduced to Eisneberg in the hallways of the Four Seasons hotel and we walked to the interview room together. He took one look at me and said, “We’ve met before. It was almost a year ago today.” And he wasn’t wrong. I interviewed both Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson for Zombieland in Austin last year. It took me a little off guard that his memory was that sharp because, let’s be honest about it, I’m a pretty forgettable guy. But that’s one of Eisenberg’s idiosyncrasies that he’s known for. He was super nice to everybody, thanking every single PR person by name every time they’d bring in a water or give a heads up that the interview was winding down. After seeing The Social Network I felt like I was sitting with the nice guy version of Mark Zuckerberg, the less socially awkward version of the man. So, when you get to the end of the interview and you see Eisenberg reference hoping to see me “next year” now you know the joke. Hope you enjoy the chat! Be warned of a spoiler about the last scene of the movie, though. I’ve marked it in the interview itself, but be cautious if you haven’t seen the movie yet!
Quint: Mark Zuckerberg as a character is kind of a brave role for you to take, because if you overplay him a little bit, he’s too likable. If you underplay it, everybody hates him. Was that something that you thought of when you read the script or when you decided to take the part?
Jesse Eisenberg: Well, that’s what you look for as an actor. You look for interesting and challenging roles, although that said the real challenging roles for me are the ones where the audience’s reaction to the character is pre-determined you know? If he’s the likable character of the movie or the hero of the movie or the bad guy of the movie, those are the really challenging roles, because no acting class trains you to be likable.
Quint: (Laughs) Yeah.
Jesse Eisenberg: They train you to kind of get in underneath the character and understand what his motives are and treat it realistically, so in that way this character is kind of the most comfortable to play because you can play it realistically and if you are working with a director like this and a script like this from Aaron [Sorkin], they will kind of do all of that other work for you in terms of tailoring what you are doing to an audience’s reaction.
Quint: Did you have to campaign for the part or did they offer it to you right away?
Jesse Eisenberg: They sent me the script and I loved it and I put about three scenes on a little video tape and sent it to California. I live in New York, so… You live here right?
Quint: Yeah, I’m Austin.
Jesse Eisenberg: The next day I got a call that David Fincher to meet me and then it was a pretty relaxing process. I didn’t have to audition again, I just met with him. I expected it to be more of what you implied because the role is so great and because David Fincher is so great and yeah it was a pretty comfortable process.
Quint: This is kind of the role that you were tailor made for. Every part of your persona that people recognize, every part of your performance that people recognize seems so perfect for Zuckerberg.
Jesse Eisenberg: Yeah, I felt when I read it that I kind of knew how to do it. I understand there’s a variety of reactions to the character and that the character does things that are hurtful to other characters in the story, but to me it was immediately clear why he was acting the way he was acting. He’s lonely and he wants to connect. He finds that very difficult and he also kind of prioritizes Facebook over personal relationships, so it was immediately clear to me where he was coming from and maybe that’s because in some ways we share some qualities.
Quint: (Laughs) That’s kind of the great irony. He’s putting the social networking site ahead of actually being social with anybody and letting anybody close. There’s something very classic literature about it, very Shakespearian about it.
Warning, spoilers be here!
Jesse Eisenberg: Exactly, kind of the classic dramatic irony or somebody trying to connect and can’t connect and everything they do, even though it turns to gold, it takes them farther and farther away from that, from being able to fully connect. Even at the end of the movie and I don’t know how well you remember the ending scene, but he’s refreshing…
Quint: I was going to say that ending is like the computer geek version of the INCEPTION ending.
Jesse Eisenberg: What is that?
Quint: You know in INCEPTION the top spinning and you never see if it falls or not and so here’s Mark clicking refresh. It’s the equivalent where you don’t know if he’s going to actually get the friend that he so desperately wants.
Jesse Eisenberg: Exactly, but I mean the most significant part of it is that he’s even trying to, that he’s trying to connect with her after everything he’s been through and two lawsuits and has become a billionaire, he still feels lonely. He still feels like wanting some kind of real connection and so he goes to this girl who gave him a shot at one point.
End of Super Spoilers!
Quint: That opening scene just shows how great Aaron Sorkin is. That opening scene sets up everything about the movie, everything about Mark. It’s like you know everything you need to know about the tone, about the pacing, about the character dynamics. Everything you need to know happens in that first scene.
Jesse Eisenberg: Absolutely.
Quint: It’s such a great moment, so I would imagine then that you got the script, you read it, and you said you loved it, but what was it that really spoke to you?
Jesse Eisenberg: I felt that really what spoke to me was that this guy is unique. He kind of has an odd disposition, but it had a really solid foundation. Often times the characters in movies that kind of have a similarly odd disposition have that for no other reason than to be interesting in a movie and entertaining in some kind of shallow way.
In this movie, this character was enigmatic and often very curt and yet you understood completely why he was. He’s in these scenes with the Winklevoss twins and they are describing to him what he sees as a very shallow idea and he’s curt with them and he doesn’t make eye contact with them because he cannot force himself to be pleasant when he’s feeling so many other feelings. That was all really clear to me and that’s really a character that is endlessly interesting to play.
The fact that it’s also based on somebody real is interesting because you can watch videos and see that. “He’s licking his bottom lip. Why is he licking his bottom lip? How can I include that in the movie in a way that’s in accordance with how he includes it in his life. Does he do it, because he’s uncomfortable? Does he do it when he feels superior? Does he do it when he feels like he’s inconvenienced or bored?” So it’s really interesting to employ all of those things into a character.
Quint: So was there a lot of research then? You are into such a weird spot because this isn’t like a version of this person from 20 years ago or a person who is dead or something like that, this is very recent history.
Jesse Eisenberg: Exactly. It’s not history at all, it’s current. (laughs). They are in the news every other day, the real people are in the news and then our film is in the news. It was really interesting. I auditioned for the movie before I looked at even a picture of Zuckerberg. I didn’t know who he was, so I felt that Aaron Sorkin, as you implied as well had created this incredible character regardless of it being based on somebody real. So I felt I had enough to go on just with Aaron’s script.
Having said that, I got every video and every interview and everything. I even got his college application and read that he was a fencer in High School, so I took fencing lessons. I really tried to understand who he was. He has a unique posture and I assume that’s with his experience fencing, so I really tried to learn everything I could about him, so I could feel very prepared on set and so that I can use it as much as possible.
Quint: So, you have it there if you need it and if you can’t find a place…
Jesse Eisenberg: Well, then you know how to fence.
Quint: (laughs)Then you can defend yourself in a nineteenth century duel.
Jesse Eisenberg: (laughs) Yeah, exactly.
Quint: The movie doesn’t really softball anything. It doesn’t condemn any particular party. I think four different people can walk into this movie and come out with four different opinions. “Yeah, he ripped off Facebook.” “No, no Facebook wouldn’t have happened without him.” I think that’s an argument that can happen, but considering that all of these people are out there doing it, was there any pressure of doing the person justice while also keeping the character?
Jesse Eisenberg: Yeah, that’s a great question. Only now am I thinking about it doing interviews. When we were doing the movie, it really felt like this very contained story. The Sony legal department’s job was to vet every line and they did for either accuracy or for whatever.
Jesse Eisenberg: Exactly. But for us on set, I don’t know if this is just because they protect actors from stuff like this, it really felt like we were telling this very contained story and that if could have been a fictional story.
Quint: Can you talk, before they break us up, can you talk a little bit about working with Andrew Garfield and all of your crew with Joseph Mazzello and all of those guys. It’s kind of crucial, because at that first beginning, you have to be with these guys, you have to be with them as they are creating this monster even if you know that the monster is ultimately going to shatter all of those relationships. You have to feel that closeness and also that hint of jealousy that your character has towards Garfield’s character.
Jesse Eisenberg: Yeah, Andrew plays a character who just has an easier time socially. He is kind of more integrated with this fraternity that they are in and Mark I think in a way… and of course he’s always being punched by the Phoenix Club to become a member and Mark pretty clearly has some resentment towards everybody, towards the traditional social circles at Harvard accepting Eduardo and kind of excluding Mark or that’s how he feels. Obviously Andrew is such a wonderful actor and brings such warmth to the character that you still want those characters to remain friends even though you know it’s probably not going to work out.
Quint: He’s the nice guy, like you see him and he’s just always there to help. He’s the friend that most people want to have and so I guess that makes it even more heartbreaking whenever you see that start to deteriorate.
Jesse Eisenberg: Exactly. He’s the friend that everybody wants to have, except Mark. Mark wants to be friends with Facebook. He’s most interested in the creation, maintenance, and expansion of Facebook. Eduardo is the guy in the room who is the guy in the room, you know? Mark is more interested in Facebook. Eduardo is very interested in their relationship, so when their relationship severs and Eduardo is destroyed and really hurt by Mark, it’s because they view the relationship so differently. You also mentioned Joe Mazzello, who plays in the scenes… He’s Dustin Moskovitz.
Quint: Yeah and I didn’t recognize him at all. I grew up with JURASSIC PARK, like anybody and I had recently saw him in THE PACIFIC, but I didn’t recognize him until the credits rolled on Social Network. I guess I wasn’t looking for him.
Jesse Eisenberg: Yeah, yeah I had a similar experience I didn’t recognize him either when we started working together. He’s so great. He also brings such a humor and levity to it, in contrast to my character who is so intense and yet they are really in the same dorm room and are doing the same things, yet my character is so incredibly intense and his character is kind of like a comfortable college guy.
Quint: Okay well what are you going onto next? I think I read that you are doing something with Rueben [Fleischer] again? Is that right?
Jesse Eisenberg: Yeah. Did you meet him last year?
Quint: Yeah, I did.
Jesse Eisenberg: Yeah, we just finished it last Friday.
Quint: Oh cool.
Jesse Eisenberg: Yeah, I think it’s really great. It’s about a pizza delivery guy. I play the pizza delivery guy who gets kidnapped by Danny McBride and he straps a bomb to my chest and forces me to rob a bank.
Quint: That’s going to be awesome. I love Danny. He is the coolest guy in the room, any room.
Jesse Eisenberg: Exactly, he really is and he is like that in person, just the coolest guy. He’s not like that character, but he’s just so cool and you just want to hang out with him.
[A rep comes in to end the interview]
Quint: Okay, yeah.
Jesse Eisenberg: It was great to see you again. I hope to see you next year.
Quint: (laughs) It’ll be our third anniversary!
Two Social Network interviews down, one more to go… Plus a gaggle of Let Me In chats. You guys are going to be so sick of me by the time I’m done with you today! Stay tuned!
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Oct. 1, 2010, 3:23 p.m. CST
by Read and Shut Up
...your interviews are getting better and better.
Oct. 1, 2010, 3:25 p.m. CST
Oct. 1, 2010, 3:28 p.m. CST
...talk Mark Zuckerberg.
Oct. 1, 2010, 3:30 p.m. CST
Oct. 1, 2010, 3:31 p.m. CST
One of the saving graces of AICN!
Oct. 1, 2010, 3:37 p.m. CST
Again, nice job. And, yes, I swear not to spam about my new site Aint It Choppah News. <p>I respect you, bruh! You just gotta be equal in ya punishments, bruh! What about the shoe and sex spammers bruh! I mean, I understand why you don't want me to spam my site, bruh, but dannnnnnnngggg.
Oct. 1, 2010, 3:47 p.m. CST
Where's the obit?
Oct. 1, 2010, 3:52 p.m. CST
By the end of the movie I was hoping Armie Hammer would punch Eisenberg, because I know I wanted to. That's the sign of good acting in my book. It was the same with Justin Timberlake. He played the douchebag/jackass Napster guy perfectly.
Oct. 1, 2010, 4:01 p.m. CST
Oct. 1, 2010, 4:05 p.m. CST
just like Harrys wife who has to pretend to wanna swallow his nerd load.
Oct. 1, 2010, 4:05 p.m. CST
balls. Just like this site.
Oct. 1, 2010, 4:06 p.m. CST
pieces of shit.
Oct. 1, 2010, 4:09 p.m. CST
Oct. 1, 2010, 4:11 p.m. CST
by Olsen Twins_Fan
at Quint's "jokes?" Oh yeah, it's right in the transcript. Jesse laughed, Quint laughed - everybody laughed!
Oct. 1, 2010, 4:16 p.m. CST
Oct. 1, 2010, 4:24 p.m. CST
Oct. 1, 2010, 4:29 p.m. CST
It was ok. Not really my type of movie, you know? It was a pretty good script with a lot of witty dialogue. It was just so so so.... hollywood. You could tell that this was a highly dramatized version of real events. The story didn't really enchant me very much and not a single character was really likable (which may have been the point). I can see why others would like it, I don't understand the universal acclaim though. It's a very typical hollywood drama in my opinion, albeit with a very good script and wittiness.
Oct. 1, 2010, 4:34 p.m. CST
the other day and he happened to inform me that he found Beaks lack of faith disturbing......Unfortunately he was out of range of a force choke!
Oct. 1, 2010, 5:12 p.m. CST
Are you kidding? Harold's wife can't give him head. Harold's cock has long since been lost in the folds of his greasy man flab. <p> RIP D.Vader and Harlod's long lost cock.
Oct. 1, 2010, 5:15 p.m. CST
check out my full review of scoial network guys . . . http://nickle-eye.blogspot.com/
Oct. 1, 2010, 11:24 p.m. CST
I came on this site and was ambushed by a fullscreen Jesse Eisenberg looking at me like he's daring me to not see his movie. Mind you this was w/out clicking any lnks or even passing my cursor over an ad.. this strain of viral advertising is quite tacky.. I'll give my money to Hit Girl..
Oct. 2, 2010, 1:28 a.m. CST
not that he isn't talented already, but I think he's going to show people that he's got a lot more varied roles in him.<p>to my mind, whether you like them personally or not, the actors that sound the smartest in interviews, tend to be the best. Brando (pre crazy), Edward Norton, Daniel Day Lewis, etc. Eisenberg really seems intelligent, and what's more he seems impossibly down to earth, polite, and sincere. <p>talkbackers can pull the asshole card all they like, but we need more actors like that. <p>Sorkin and Fincher had my butt in the seat opening weekend (hell, just one of them on their own would do it), but I have to say that I'm glad they were so dead set on Eisenberg for this role. the guy deserves his jumping off point. and this movie, with its inevitable Oscar nominations (and probably one for him, as well) is just perfect.
Oct. 2, 2010, 7:18 a.m. CST
absolutely spot on brilliant performance by jesse eisenberg in this movie. i loved this movie. And i actually felt for Mark in this movie .. he was an A-Hole but i still rooted for him. I still respected him. He did some cold hearted things but the brilliance of Jesse's performance is that you still felt the inner turmoil that Mark must have felt in turning on his friend Eduardo. And then the final scene was brilliant and quite gut wrenching in a subtle, poignant way..
Oct. 2, 2010, 12:56 p.m. CST
Zombieland is a great film and you, and Vader are the ones that suck! Go home, loser fuck!
Oct. 4, 2010, 9:22 a.m. CST
is this FaceBook that you speak of?
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