Jesse Eisenberg on AOL Chat Rooms and Why He Hates Watching The Social Network
In part three of our bar-side chat with Jesse Eisenberg, the conversation — after drifting towards the positives and negatives of social media — steered right back into what became the welcome theme of the conversation: Jesse Eisenberg himself. You see, Eisenberg has admitted before that he doesn’t enjoy watching the films that he acts in, for an assortment of reasons (which he thoroughly explains here). That all changed with the release of Zombieland, a film that he watched and enjoyed multiple times. Perhaps this self-viewing breakthrough extended to his work on the critically acclaimed The Social Network?
Those pictures from your soon-to-be project, those are the kind that someone would immediately put on their Facebook page. From your research, are social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook bad for people?
I have a unique position because people write about me on the Internet. I have such a great fear of seeing something about myself on the Internet. I read The Onion everyday. And last night I went on The Onion and there’s a little picture of me — it was a joke about the movie and there was a picture of me on the homepage. It’s so shocking to me. I’m mortified about reading anything on the Internet. So the only thing I’ve seen in the last several years has been this thing on The Onion. So I have maybe a greater aversion than if I was not acting in movies because what I do is so public. So I have a great aversion to media that’s easily accessible. If I didn’t have that, and when I didn’t — when I wasn’t in movies — when America Online came out, I was online every day on AOL chatting. I did that every day, it was so cool. I’m sure I would do that again today, it’s just that I have a strange personal situation. I don’t think it’s bad. My mother found a great friend of hers that has since moved to Australia on Facebook, and they reconnected. It’s like the telephone, it can be great. You can call your grandmother and make her feel great or you can call phone sex all day long — that might be your grandmother picking up.
It sounds like you’re an actor because you enjoy the work, not necessarily the attention. It’s a small example, but the closest I can come to understanding is when I did an interview with a director who made a semi-controversial comment, the next think I knew my name was in The New York Post. But that was just one day.
Of course. Of course. It’s so jarring. Did you ever consider not putting that comment in?
I didn’t think twice about it.
Of course, I never read… I mean, I’m not on Page Six, because I don’t have anything salacious happening in my life…unfortunately. But I don’t read anything. Anything.
We were at the same New York screening for Zombieland and you looked like you were really enjoying it. You later told me that Zombieland was the first film that you’re in that you enjoyed watching. Do you feel the same way about The Social Network?
No, no. We had to see it once and it was a terrible experience for me. I really didn’t like watching it. But, Zombieland, for some reason, it’s like watching somebody else play a video game. I just liked watching it; I was able to separate myself.
I would have never have guessed that. So you still love watching Zombieland but do not like watching The Social Network?
I don’t think it’s self-centered to say that when an actor watches a movie, the only thing that they’re thinking about is themselves. Especially when a movie is so great, like this one. Because all I saw were my faults. I was so concerned about it that I was the weak link in something great. Nothing is more frightening for me than being the weak link in something great. I’d rather be the weak link in something terrible than something great. It’s obviously that much more emphasized, so when I saw it, I just saw what I was doing bad and I was in a movie of great quality. With Zombieland I felt like, I don’t know, something about the way they put that movie together. It just seemed like I couldn’t have done anything to screw it up. It was like watching a video game.
So when you’re picking out your faults in The Social Network, can’t you tell yourself “David Fincher made me do that scene 100 times, obviously that’s the one he wanted”?
It’s not exactly like that. Just to give you an example, I was aware of when I got it. We’d do a scene 50 times and I was aware that number 37, number 23 and number 4 I felt good about. And a lot of times that would coincide with what he thought, too. I only told him what I felt were the best takes a few times. When I did tell him, they seemed to coincide with what he was saying. Because he does, let’s say, 30 to 40 takes; when you do that — at least for me with this character, which is a unique character — we did a range of personalities, let’s say. If we did it 40 times, we’d do it 20 times with him very emotionally detached, inverted. And we’d do the other 20 more personable and engaged. So when I watch the movie, you think, “Oh, I remember thinking it would work better that other way.” So maybe it was the best take of those 20. I met Mike Nichols recently and he told me the hardest thing about watching yourself in a movie is that you see strange angles of your face that you never see. And that’s another big part of it. It sounds so vain, but it’s not that it’s a question of vanity, when you look at yourself in the mirror, which is the way you see yourself, you only see one angle. When you watch yourself in a movie, it’s just a very shocking thing. So that’s also kind of annoying to me.
See, this is why it’s good that you stay off of Facebook. People will take pictures that you had no idea they took, then tag you. Then you have to go in and remove them because they are awful.
Of course, why would they use that picture? So that feeling you have about why would they use that picture on Facebook is the exact same way I feel about a movie. “Why would they show me from that angle? I look hideous!”
Part 1, Part 2
lol it seems so obvious to me that zombieland is his own favorite movie, but he refuses to say so.