With Justin Timberlake, Jesse Eisenberg and
New York Film Festival
September 24, 2010
Written by H. B. Forman
to the heart of the Social Network”
The Social Network
The new film The Social Network
is sharp, topical and on-the-mark.
One of the standouts at this year’s
New York Film Festival, the premise of the movie
is delving into the life of Mark Zuckerberg, the
founder of the biggest virtual community -- known
as Facebook – and the film is more than compelling.
Add to the fact that it was written
by West Wing and American President
scribe Aaron Sorkin, and it is portrayed by a stellar
cast, including singer/actor Justin Timberlake,
and actors Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield,
it all adds up to a major home run.
Believe it or not 26-year-old
Mark Zuckerman [Eisenberg] started Facebook in his
dorm room and seven years later, it was a multi-million-dollar
corporation valued a few years ago at $15 billion.
Facebook connects 500 million members in 207 countries.
The movie looks at this abrasive, sarcastic and
rather angry young man, who prefers computers to
people. The movie is tense, fast moving and compelling.
The Social Network, which
recently opened in area theaters, profiles one young
man’s road to becoming a billionaire and fans
everywhere are buzzing about the accuracy of the
film’s storyline. Whether or not the film
is true, it’s undeniable that Facebook has
had a huge impact on society and our daily lives.
According to a recent poll at
MovieTickets.com, of almost 10,000 moviegoers, 39
percent of them began using Facebook as a teenager,
while surprisingly 25 percent of them began using
the social networking site when they were over the
age of 40. So above all else, it is a movie that
is terribly current in its content and makes us
think on many levels.
The well-attended 48th New York
Film Festival showed a wide variety of cutting,
edge, intelligent, thought-provoking and eclectic
films, including Clint Eastwood’s latest Hereafter,
starring Matt Damon and Bryce Dallas Howard, that
follows three separate plotlines dealing with mortality.
Here is a look at The Social Network from
its actors and writer, Aaron Sorkin.
Photo Credit PR Photos
Question: Are you addicted to
Facebook in the real world?
Timberlake: It's hard enough to do voice
work in animated films, at the same time!
Question: Justin, will you be
singing again anytime soon?
Timberlake: I was hoping you were going to
ask me about [my animated work as] Yogi Bear! I'm
glad that we can just get that...out of the way.
What are some of the challenges
of playing guys that lots of people think are well…assholes?
Timberlake: It soon became clear to me that
my character wasn't...the hero! So to speak. But
you never play anything sitting behind a laptop,
twirling your mustache. And that's the beauty of
this film to me. You sort of get to pick who you
side with. And I think that's the dynamic of what
makes these characters tick. But you defend your
character; just like nobody believes what they're
doing is wrong in life.
Was there something about
Zuckerberg that got you hooked on this movie?
Timberlake: I also have empathy for human
beings, thank you! No, I think we all felt that
so much information was just there, on the paper.
But as far as playing my character, I just stayed
far away from anything on the Internet as I could.
Just for myself, you meet my character when he pretty
much meets Facebook. So I wanted to be excited by
that. But like what's been said, the themes and
ideas are so much bigger than what the actual invention
of Facebook in the film services.
What else are your thoughts
about this movie – which has to be so different
from your music?
Timberlake: I’ll jump to it really
quickly. It’s fun to watch the film. There
are so many scenes that get shot without certain
actors in the scenes and I think there’s a
line that Jesse’s character has about it being
a final club. He said, “You are the president.
It’s a party and you’re throwing it.”
I think that’s kind of the intrigue behind
having your own Facebook page and creating your
own profile. It’s your world; I would assume
that that’s sort of what it is. As we’ve
been promoting this film I get the idea collectively
that none of us are really that savvy at using Facebook
or any other social networking site, so I would
think that that would be the intrigue.
Okay, that makes sense
what else struck you?
Timberlake: I think that what makes the
film so intriguing in the bigger picture of things
if you kind of zoom out is that I think social networking
in general is still a hypothesis. I find that people
are still asking the question and they ask it more
and more to people like us – I don’t
know why they expect an answer, because like I said,
I’m ridiculously stupid when it comes to computers
and social networking – but I think the hypothesis
is still pretty clear -- is it a good thing or is
it a bad thing?
Okay makes sense.
Timberlake: And I think there’s always
a medium, there’s always a medium that’s
being pushed to show us how human we are, how kind
we are and how cruel we are, and so the accessibility
and the instant gratification of having all of your
photos and profile and everything lined up, I think
that’s probably what makes something like
a Facebook or any other social networking site so
great to people. I think that’s the intrigue
is that we still wonder if it’s going to create
great things in the world or are we going to waste
away with it, and that’s probably what’s
going to get people in the theater.
I know you said you’re
not really that savvy when it comes to computers,
but what is your online obsession?
Timberlake: You you really want to know
about that? It’s really not that interesting.
I’m not obsessed. I’m happy to say,
I’m three years clean.
I understand you did get
to meet Sean Parker and I wonder how that went and
if you gained anything from it.
Timberlake: I briefly bumped into him here
in New York one time, but we spoke for probably
all of two minutes. Ironically, I met him before
I was cast in the role. One of the parts of the
zeitgeist that is the internet, there was about
a three week period where I was going through the
audition process that it was announced that I was
going to play the role. So I went through a three
week period of damn it, I better get this role because
everyone think I’m playing him. No, I’m
kidding. But I met him before I was cast in the
role of Sean Parker in the movie. We met briefly
and he seemed very nice but we didn’t really
talk about much. He mentioned that he had read the
script and he thought that I was going to be playing
the part but at the time I wasn’t, so that
was awkward. He seemed like a nice guy though. We
said hello and it was in passing; I was leaving
and he was arriving to a place.
Justin Timberlake and Jesse
Eisenberg in The Social Network
Jesse, were you trying to
play Zuckerberg as Asperger Syndrome afflicted?
Eisenberg: Well yeah, there's a certain kind
of disengagement that you see. But frankly, it's
not unlike some of the disengagement I do during
these interviews! Because, they can be incredibly
uncomfortable. So to attribute his behavior to some
kind of extreme diagnosis, doesn't feel right to
me. But there was this quality I wanted to bring
out. You know, this difficulty connecting with others.
Of course that would make his invention so much
more ironic. You know, that he created something
that connects everybody else. And feels perfectly
comfortable in the environment of Facebook.
Will you elaborate on that?
Eisenberg: Well, even though he may seem
enigmatic and detached, there was still something
beneath that. And he's created something out of
nothing and is a billionaire, but still feels alone.
So even though it may seem mysterious, it's coming
from a real place. But yeah, it was certainly something
that we wanted to bring out. And it makes the character
far more interesting to play, that he has trouble
connecting with others. But I certainly don't want
to diagnose him!
Are you addicted to Facebook
in the real world?
Eisenberg: I signed up for Facebook the first
day of rehearsal. So I could understand what my
character was talking about!
What are some of the challenges
of playing guys that lots of people think are assholes?
Eisenberg: Well, it's impossible to play
a role and look at it the way you do, or objectively
at all. Because my main responsibility was not only
to understand where my character was coming from,
but to be able to defend all of his positions and
his behavior. And ultimately sympathize with him.
else you can add to that?
Eisenberg: Well, over the course of the movie,
and now, I've developed an even greater affection
for my character. You have no choice. I mean; it's
impossible to disagree with a character. You know,
you're shooting over months and for very long days,
so you're spending a lot of time working hard to
defend your character's behavior. So even if the
character is acting in a way that hurts other characters,
you still have to understand all of that behavior.
It's just impossible to play it any other way.
there something about Zuckerberg that got you hooked
on this movie?
Eisenberg: I auditioned for the movie prior
to looking up Mark Zuckerberg online.
Question: Well, you seemed to
nail him pretty well anyway.
Eisenberg: I didn't know what he looked like,
and I never heard him speak. But in order to fell
more prepared and know whom this guys was, I got
my hands on every interview, and watched every video
that was online. But this is not so much a movie
about Facebook. In the same way that this is not
a traditional biopic, where I'm trying to do an
imitation of him. So I was really just focused on
playing the director's idea of Mark Zuckerberg.
And even though he may seem enigmatic and detached,
there was still something beneath that. And he's
created something out of nothing and is a billionaire,
but still feels alone. So even though it may seem
mysterious, it's coming from a real place. But yeah,
it was certainly something that we wanted to bring
out. And it makes the character far more interesting
to play, that he has trouble connecting with others.
But I certainly don't want to diagnose him!
if you could meet Mark Zuckerberg and speak with
him, what would you like to know?
Eisenberg: I’d like to go to Johnny
Rockets with Mark because I like their shakes. I
spent six months thinking about him everyday, I
developed a great affection for my character and
of course by extension the man, and I’d be
very interested in meeting him. Fortunately, my
first cousin, Eric, got a great job working at Facebook
about a month before we finished shooting, and I’m
hoping he’ll facilitate an introduction one
day. I don’t know what I would say. It’s
the kind of thing you think about all the time but
then I’d finally give the card to Lucy and
say Merry Christmas, Lucy, instead of Happy Valentine’s
Talk about the character
of the ad executive and whose idea it was for this
character? I couldn’t
find when I was watching the film who the clear-cut
good guys and bad guys were. Who’s the antagonist
of this story?
Sorkin: I’m glad that you couldn’t
find a clear cut good guy or bad guy, right, wrong,
a person with the truth, a person who is lying.
The antagonist and protagonist in the story shifts
as we go along. This movie I don’t think belongs
to any particular drama, but the one it’s
most closely related to is actually a courtroom
drama, where we are certain of someone’s guilt
or innocence at the beginning and we change our
mind five times all the way through. But strictly
speaking, and I don’t mean to get hoity toity
on you, but in Aristotelian terms, Mark is the antihero,
which actually makes him the protagonist. Generally
we equate the protagonist with the hero, with the
good guy; that’s actually not what it means.
He spends the first hour and 55 minutes being the
antihero and the final five minutes of the movie
being a tragic hero, which means that he has paid
a price and is experiencing remorse.
Question: Tell us more about
Sorkin: The antagonist again, purely Aristotelian
terms, stuff that you learn in playwriting school,
which is the person without whom the story couldn’t
get going, are the Winklevosses, Sean, and even
Eduardo, which is to say simply that if nobody ever
sued Mark or Facebook there wouldn’t be a
story. In other words, the protagonist and antagonist
in this case don’t relate to good guy and
I get the sense that you
and [the film’s director] David Fincher are
both fairly meticulous individuals. So I was wondering
if you could talk about generally what your working
style is, how do two people with pretty specific
visions make it work in a collaborative way?
Sorkin: David is peerless, absolutely peerless
as a visual director, and I write people talking
in rooms. But David, first of all, embraced the
fact that this was going to be a story told through
language, but he did bring a distinct visual style
to this, and he did as a director get sensational
performances out of his very talented, but young,
Were there any disagreements
or differences between the original script and what
we saw on screen?
Sorkin: Our disagreements fell into two categories;
things like the screwdriver and the beer, and let
me just parenthetically say for anybody who doesn’t
know what you’re referring to, this was in
Mark Harris’ New
York magazine piece that I think is out
this week. We know from Mark’s blog, this
is early on, the blog that we hear in voiceover
after the breakup scene with Erica, that he’s
drunk. He says so; he says, “I’m intoxicated.”
That blog was verbatim; I excised small parts of
it just to make it shorter and make my life easier
with transitions, but it was verbatim.