September 30, 2010 / 2:06 PM / 7 years ago

A Minute With: Actor Eisenberg on playing Facebook CEO

LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Jesse Eisenberg has never been at a loss for work, having starred over the years in studio films like “Adventureland” and “Zombieland” and independent films like “Squid and the Whale.”

<p>Actor Jesse Eisenberg arrives at the premiere of "The Social Network" in New York, September 24, 2010. REUTERS/Eric Thayer</p>

Now, the 26 year-old actor is getting ready to take on his most high-profile role to date, playing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network,” in theaters Friday.

The film, directed by David Fincher, is based on author Ben Mezrich’s book, “The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal.” The feature not only chronicles how the game-changing website was created, but the lawsuits that stemmed from it in the process.

Eisenberg talked with Reuters about playing Zuckerberg and why he, Eisenberg, is not a Facebook user.

Q: The film is told from three different points of view: Zuckerberg‘s, his former best friend Eduardo Saverin’s and identical twin brothers, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. At the end of it all, whose view do you actually agree with?

A: “My job as an actor was to defend my character, Mark Zuckerberg, every day for six months, 14 hours-a-day while we were filming. Therefore, there was never any question for me personally that my character was responsible and right and even a good friend because that was my job. Once you stop thinking along those lines, it’s impossible to play the role you’re assigned.”

Q: Have you ever met Mark Zuckerberg?

A: “No, I never met him. But I spent six months listening to him on my iPod every morning.”

Q: Wouldn’t it make sense to sit down with the man you’re going to play before actually portraying him?

A: “I would have loved to, but it was an impossibility.”

Q: How so?

A: “For a laundry list of reasons. I guess I‘m going to have to remain cagey on that for now.” (Zuckerberg has said he declined to cooperate with the film’s makers)

Q: If the opportunity arose, would you still meet him?

A: “Of course! I’d be very interested to meet him. In the final weeks of filming the movie, my cousin got a great job at Facebook and is now an employee there. My cousin told me Mark couldn’t have been more gracious toward him.”

Q: Did Mark know he was employing someone who had a family member portraying him in a big Hollywood movie?

A: “Mark came up to him at a party during his first week on the job and said: ‘I think your cousin is playing me in a movie; that’s really cool.’ I couldn’t have heard better things from my cousin both personally and professionally about Mark. It coincides with how I feel having played him as well.”

Q: Are you on Facebook?

A: “I don’t use Facebook and I had never been on it prior to reading the script of ‘The Social Network.’ But I went on it during pre-production and it was immediately evident to me why it’s such a phenomenon.”

Q: So why not join?

A: “I think I speak for a lot of actors, which is if you’re in a public setting like we are, you come to really value your privacy. That’s the primary reason why I‘m not on it. But my mother found friends that she went to camp with via Facebook.”

Q: So if you weren’t an actor, you’d be on Facebook?

A: “Yes, I‘m sure of it. When America Online came out, that was a very early incarnation of social networking with the instant messaging. I was like 13 years-old and my friends and I would come home from school and instant message each other for hours!”

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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