Eisenberg puts face to Facebook

Thesp looked to real Zuckerberg for inspiration

Jesse Eisenberg thinks while he speaks.

He’ll start sentences, then backtrack, until he’s found the perfect way to phrase his response. In that way the 27-year-old is much like his character Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network” — at least the way screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher see it.

The founder of Facebook talks through the technological, social and moral ramifications of the site until he’s reached an eerie clarity. But there’s one major difference between the two: At the end of the day, Zuckerberg is more than sure he’s right. Eisenberg has his doubts.

“I’m always disappointed. I see something as perfect before I start doing it,” Eisenberg says. As for the positive reaction to this film: “On the one hand it’s nice, but I feel I’ve done better in other movies or plays. I’m trying to diminish the impact the nice notices have on me, because they’re not fully consistent with how I feel.”

Eisenberg has no delusions of grandeur. He’s just an actor with ups and downs. In the same way, “The Social Network” smartly avoids attempting to make grand statements about social networking, instead focusing on the characters. Facebook is a backdrop, a jumping-off point to tell a partially fictionalized story.

The life of the real Zuckerberg similarly served as a foundation for Eisenberg’s performance.

“I’d watch You Tube clips of him before going to work, seeing how he furrows his brow, licks his lips, blinks slowly, and I’d find a place to employ that in a scene,” Eisenberg explains.

Those little moments allowed him to unlock his own take on the character, whom Eisenberg found amusing even upon first reading the script.

“Other characters in the film are clever but trying to be clever, whereas Mark is funnier almost because of what he doesn’t say than what he does,” he says.

Eisenberg’s career has been brief but strong. He nailed it as a neurotic apocalypse survivor (“Zombieland”) and a Hasidic Jew-turned-drug smuggler (“Holy Rollers”), but as the cocksure Zuckerberg, he doesn’t think so.

“We’d do 50 takes of a shot, which is great. To me the taxing part of acting is waiting in your trailer,” Eisenberg says. “Here, we’d have lots of opportunities to do each scene. I still felt disappointed at the end, but less.”

More from Eye on the Oscars: The Actor
The buck goes there
Leonard DiCaprio | Robert Duvall | Jesse Eisenberg | Colin Firth |James Franco | Ryan Gosling
Lead actors in the mix
Andrew Garfield | Jeremy Renner | Geoffrey Rush | Mark Ruffalo | Christian Bale | Sam Rockwell
Supporting actors in the mix

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