Jesse Eisenberg doesn’t like to watch himself on film, so he was especially irritated when he accidentally caught the last 30 seconds of ‘The Social Network,’ in which he stars as Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“It’s just uncomfortable to watch me,” he said. “Not in the same way that it’s uncomfortable to listen to your voice on an answering machine. I just felt that I didn’t get the scene right.”
Eisenberg, 26, probably doesn’t need to worry, because he’s already getting Oscar buzz for his performance. Below, the darling of the quirky-film industry (‘Zombieland,’ ‘Adventureland,’ and ‘The Squid and the Whale’ are among his credits) sheds some light on a few things about his career, the movie, and not meeting Zuckerberg in person.
He’s more panicked than excited by kudos. “It feels like — and again, this is just the way my mind works, which is why I go to therapy twice a week — I immediately think there could be nothing worse than getting that kind of attention. Because how can you maintain that level of interest and attention? And I really have worked hard and done well in other things that have gotten no attention. So it makes you feel like those kind of things are inconsistent.”
When Eisenberg read Aaron Sorkin’s script, he knew nothing about Facebook or Zuckerberg, neither of whom cooperated with the film. “I was hoping to meet him. To me, that was the first thing to do, playing somebody who’s not only alive, but contemporary, and that was an impossibility … What I discovered is that he’s somebody who is ultimately kind of a lonely person, who has difficulty connecting because I think other people want to connect in a way he’s not comfortable with. His reputation is inconsistent with his behavior. It seems to me he’s personable and incredibly bright. Maybe uncomfortable, but who isn’t uncomfortable in interviews?”
Eisenberg doesn’t like interviews either. “I just hate being scrutinized. As I’ve been in more movies, more people write about me or, uh, stop me in the street, and I hate that part of it. Not enough to stop doing it, because I don’t have any other skills.”
He’s 11 credits away from graduating with an anthropology degree from the New School in New York City, where he shares an apartment with his girlfriend and a couple of “brain-damaged cats.” “Being in school helps me avoid a lot of the entertainment industry — much of it is so self-congratulatory and inward. It seems to me people treat each other as though they’re doing something of great global significance.”
Viewers may walk away from ‘The Social Network’ with a negative impression of Zuckerberg, but Eisenberg “developed a great affection” for him. “I heard someone sent a tweet or something that said: ‘This movie made me want to egg Mark Zuckerberg’s house and then help him clean it.’ Of course, I only want to clean it, because I’m living in the house.”
Check out highlights from a recent live webcast, hosted by Olivia Munn. It features stars Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.