EXCLUSIVE interview with stars of SOCIAL NETWORK
the f word
Jesse Eisenberg was either nervous about being in the limelight or he naturally speaks as fast as a bullet train
By Joanne Soh
October 29, 2010
Jesse Eisenberg was either nervous about being in the limelight or he naturally speaks as fast as a bullet train.
The geeky-looking 27-year-old actor with a mop of curly hair also doesn’t look like a movie star who plays the lead in the new Facebook movie The Social Network.
Seated next to him, Andrew Garfield looked equally lost.
Back in July, the 27-year-old British actor had yet to be crowned the new Spider-Man, and was then still an unknown to most of us.
So naturally, pop prince Justin Timberlake was the one everyone wanted a piece of.
It also helped that the 29-year-old possesses a winning charm, much like his entrepreneur character Sean Parker – the co-founder of Napster who convinced Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to leave his Harvard dormitory for the Silicon Valley.
Directed by the acclaimed David Fincher, The Social Network – which opens here today – is a story about ambition, friendship, power, treachery, greed and multi-million dollar lawsuits.
We see how Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) and his Harvard classmate Eduardo Saverin (Garfield) conceived the idea of Facebook and how jealousy got in the way of their close friendship as their social networking business grew exponentially.
Since its release in the US on Oct 1, The Social Network has been attracting Oscar buzz, with critics hailing Garfield and Timberlake as shoo-ins for best supporting actor nominations.
Without a doubt, The Social Network has propelled its young stars into the stratosphere.
Theatre-trained Eisenberg, whose last appearance was in last year’s Zombieland, has strengthened his geek standing, threatening to dethrone Michael Cera.
Garfield has a big year ahead with a potential superhero franchise in his bag.
And Timberlake is well on his way to establishing himself as a credible actor.
FiRST: Social networking is the norm with the young. How has it changed your lives?
EISENBERG: Well, I have my own website that I use to land movie roles, so social networking has been really important for me.
No, not really. I don’t have a website.
But it has definitely changed things for acting.
I have friends – actor friends – and they attribute their success in finding work to having networking websites.
But I personally don’t engage.
TIMBERLAKE: I’m already famous because I write music on the side.
No, I’m kidding.
Social networking has obviously been a huge deal for the music industry and now the film industry.
I think it’s kind of serendipitous that a film like this is released at a time when social networking is the trend.
Do you have a relationship with Facebook?
GARFIELD: I have the usual relationship that someone my age would have with it. I love it and loathe it at the same time, and it takes up far too much of my energy and time.
I should use the time working on making myself a better person instead of seeing what I missed out on my friend’s parties in London…it’s a terrible terrible thing. (laughs)
TIMBERLAKE: I don’t personally have a Facebook page or even Twitter. I feel like a dinosaur because even if I get on it, I would not know how to work it.
EISENBERG: I signed up for Facebook only about two weeks before we started shooting to see what all the kids were talking about.
The closest relationship I have to Facebook now, aside from the movie, is that my first cousin, Eric, has a great job there. He got it while we were filming and he’s working side-by-side with Zuckerberg.
Have you guys met the people you play in the movie?
EISENBERG: No. They just weren’t involved in the movie. I guess I’ll meet Zuckerberg by virtue of meeting my cousin’s boss if I ever visit him in the office.
Although I didn’t meet him personally, it doesn’t mean I don’t know anything about him. There are many videos and books on him, and the most significant resource is the script, which is really interesting and wonderful.
My character probably has the highest visibility, being the face of Facebook. The movie may put him across like a jerk, but it’s my job to humanise him and defend him as a character.
GARFIELD: I think it also adds a certain responsibility knowing that these three people might eventually watch the film. To have that awareness kind of makes you work harder.
Do you admire the real guys, especially since they got so far at such a young age?
GARFIELD: Absolutely. It was one of those ‘right place, right time’ situations. It was the right time for their generation and they had the necessary skills that could be capitalised on. The gods were watching over them in a way…
Maybe they were too young to deal with all the overwhelming power, success and the new technological landscape that they developed.
But I’m in awe of their brilliance, skills, success and vision, especially Mark and Sean. They are indeed geniuses.
Are you able to relate to your characters since you are also young and successful?
EISENBERG: I had an experience similar to the movie.
I started writing plays when I was 17. I promised a friend that we’d write a play together but he went off to college and I ended up writing it myself.
We later had conflict over that but it was of course on a much smaller scale.
I’m sure we all have similar situations with friends. I was able to draw on those experiences for the movie.
GARFIELD: When you’re in the arts, any amount of self-consciousness and self-awareness can really upset your creative output. Then you can’t view yourself objectively.
If attaining great success remains your focus and you are constantly chasing awards and kudos, it’ll kill all creativity and passion.
TIMBERLAKE: That’s right, chasing such accolades is not why we’re doing what we do.
David Fincher is known for doing many takes for a scene. What was it like working with him?
GARFIELD: Because of his many takes, he gives you the room and time to make mistakes, which I think is the bravest and the biggest gift a director can give to any actor.
Knowing that we have such an incredible man steering the ship, you sleep well at night because you know he’s going to use only the good stuff.
EISENBERG: It does get exhausting, though. The opening scene was a nine-page scene and we did that scene 99 times over the course of two nights. The fatigue comes from the number of times we’re asked to do it.
Having said that, the opportunity to do a scene so many times is a luxury. Often in movies you feel rushed and you didn’t get what you want.
Justin, which is dearer to you now – acting or singing?
TIMBERLAKE: I’ve always cared about both.
When I was 14, I convinced my mother to spend TV pilot season in Los Angeles. I was convinced I was going to get a part in a sitcom in the fashion of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.
I was sitting at home waiting for it to happen, and a month later, I was selected to be part of a children’s TV show.
I’ve always admired the art of performing. It’s no secret that I was trained as a young kid on The Mickey Mouse Club with other extremely talented actors and singers such as Christina (Aguilera) and Ryan (Gosling).
I’m extremely aware of people’s perception of me. The choices I made are for myself.
I did the smaller films to gain experience and to work with the people I really admire and play the characters that I really care about.
Is it more difficult to step back to be just a character instead of a sex symbol?
TIMBERLAKE: There’s no way I’m going to answer that question!
I’m completely detached from those comments.
Most opinions are just projections. Everybody’s got a geek in them and I just don’t believe in status. I believe in the process of making films and making music.