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Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake and Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin talk Facebook in London

The Social Network
08 October 2010

The Social Network is a story about the founders of the social-networking website, Facebook. Every age has its visionaries who leave, in the wake of their genius, a changed world – but rarely without a battle over exactly what happened and who was there at the moment of creation.

Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake and Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin spoke to journalists at the Dorchester Hotel London yesterday about their new film The Social Network. This hugely anticpated film looks at the paralleling viewpoints on the events surrounding the creation of the world’s biggest social networking site and the world’s youngest billionaire. With a film this complex and dynamic, the questions were inevitably as multi-layered as the film, resulting in an intelligent insight into the creation of a truly original film.


Andrew, obviously you didn’t know much about your character, so how did you manage to get under the skin of playing that role?
(Andrew Garfield) Aaron wrote a meticulously researched script with integrity and we all went in with total confidence. As soon as we read the first scene, we knew that this character was real. For any actor to have that amount of detail and humanity as a starting point and a finishing point, is a rare gift, so we felt like all of the work was pretty much done. Of course there were elements that I had to think about outside of that, such as Eduardo being born in Brazil and raised in Miami, which I obviously was not, so I needed to understand culturally physically, and vocally what that meant, so that’s an example of something that I had to research myself, but the script was pretty damn good.

This is a rare film in the Hollywood sense, with no guns or naked ladies running about, how come a film like this, that is intelligent and doesn’t have all the expected aspects of today’s Hollywood film, has done so well.
(Justin Timberlake) Unfortunately the naked mud wrestling didn’t make the final cut.

(Aaron Sorkin) We don’t know why it has done so well, but we couldn’t be more thrilled that it has. We have to be grateful to Sony and our producers for making the film that you’ve just described and for making a film without forcing us to put a sugary coating on it that will appeal to certain demographics, it does not have any of the bells and whistles that we’re used to seeing in Hollywood. In the 80’s Hollywood made films about very cuddly nerds, and we hated the jocks, and we knew who the bad guys and the good guys were, now things are not nearly so clear. So we have to give credit to the studio for making the film, but I also think this movie demonstrates what I absolutely believe, is that people that go to see movies aren’t dummer than people who make movies and people like using their brains when they’re watching a movie. The film starts at 100 miles an hour and forces you to sit up write away and listen and that kind of participation when your’e watching a movie is exhilarating. I’m grateful that people like the film, and come to the film and one of the things that I’m really pleased by is that this film breaks evenly in every demographic and all age groups, and they’re enjoying the film without special effects. There are 100 ways to make this film badly but David Fincher managed to side step all of them and make a very special film.

You don’t need to know anything about Facebook or social networking, as essentially this is a Faustian drama isn’t it?

(Aaron Sorkin) I don’t know anything about social networking or facebook, so its not surprising that the audience doesn’t need to either. It’s definitely a Faustian drama in the question, ‘What prophets a man when he gains the world but loses his soul? ‘ in the case of Justin Timberlake’s character,and that’s one of the things that this film is. We’ve found in promoting this film all over the world that everybody is making their own conclusions about the film, and we’re pleased that these arguments about the film and its many different layers are happening.

Justin, this is not an expected role for you to play but apparently you were desperate to play this character, what did you do to prepare for the role and why did you enjoy playing it so much?

(Justin Timberlake) None of myself or the rest of the cast are that familiar personally with Facebook, which I think drew us to the script, which we all found completely dazzling. When I came across the character, there was a lot of layers there as there are with all the characters, and you rarely come across, a complete,well constructed, tasteful, amazing screenplay like this, and I remember reading the 162 pages of the screenplay and they went by in five minutes, and that’s one of the feats of the film, is that you see 162 pages of that screenplay in the film and it goes by so quickly and then you really want to see it again. So I auditioned for the part a couple of times and kicked the door down for it.

Andrew, you could argue that your character (Eduardo Saverin) is the hero of this film, like Justin, did you go around the houses before you decided how to play the character and how did you you prepare for the role?

(Andrew Garfield) I think it’s valid that you had that feeling about Eduardo, and I think in everything he did he was trying to be righteous and noble, but I think if you ask Jesse or Justin the same question they would probably say the same about their characters which I think is a testament to the script. I think some people might come away thinking that Eduardo had a lack of imagination to not be able to keep up with the other guys, and some people will think he was too trusting and naive. While we were filming we all felt very righteous as our characters and I think you have to, to play that character. In retrospect I can look back at that time and think, yes Justin’s character was justified and so was Jessie’s which I think is a testament to the story. I don’t think we get the chance very often to sit in a movie theatre and be torn and confused about characters and who was right or wrong, which I think this film incredibly asks us to make our minds up and use our brains.



Jesse, how did you go about preparing for playing a real character who the world seems to know so little and so much about at the same time and somebody who was clearly not keen for this film to be made?

(Jesse Garfield) Mark is publicly enigmatic as well as arguably the most accessible person in the world because he’s created this thing that allows us all to be as accessible as we would like to be and in that way he’s a very interesting character and there is alot to find out about him. To supplement my character I found out everything I could about him but i was primarily playing Aaron’s version of Mark.

Do any of you use aliases for Facebook and do you feel like your’e missing out on a massive social phenomenon and what do you make of the fact that so many people are addicted to it.

(Justin Timberlake) I don’t use facebook, and I think if I was on it I would feel I was missing out on doing something outside like practising to play for next years riders cup (laughs). I feel it would be irresponsible to answer that question because we don’t use it, but I would assume on the plus side it allows you to connect with as many people as possible, but some of the pitfalls of it, is that it might be similar to being constantly being on a first date, it affords you the possibility to always present your best version of yourself, which is one of the hypothesises about social networking in general, is it genuine?

(Andrew Garfield) I used to use facebook, but now I’m four months clean and I’m thinking of setting up a support group (laughs) I think its a wonderful. We used it for a charity event and we made four times the amount that we would have without facebook. I don’t think whether you use facebook or not will impair your enjoyment of the film. It’s about the bigger themes such as what it is to come of age, ambition,power, betrayal and loyalty and brotherhood and I think the film is more about that.

(Jesse Eisenberg) I don’t have a facebook page, I set one up under Andrew Garfield but I made absolutely no friends! (laughs)  Except Andrew’s Alias wanted to be best friends with his own fan page.

(Aaron Sorkin) All of my education is in play writing, and none in sociology and I have no knowledge really of facebook, having said that it does do a lot of wonderful things, such as charity and good social activism, my worry about it is that this device that was invented to bring us all together may well be doing the opposite. By replacing humanity with technology, it feels like a slightly insincere form of communication and we now have a way to reinvent ourselves and create a version of ourselves that we want them to see. I can identify with that because I do that through my writing, I want people to think I’m as quick witted as my characters. I think it will be decades and decades before we know what the results of this social experiment is. It doesn’t appeal to me but I have no difficulty in understanding why it appeals to 500 million people world wide.

What were the issues and constraints of making a film that deals with real people?

(Aaron Sorkin) When your’e dealing with non fiction and real people, especially young people, there is a great responsibility. You have two very important things in your hands, you have history and you have someones life. There is also a legal obligation you have to make. This script was vetted by so many lawyers but you also have a moral obligation not to mess around with someones life just for the sake of a good movie scene. There is a lot of available information on this story, for example Mark’s blog. There are cartons and cartons of legal documents and there was first person research I did, meeting and speaking with people that were involved with these events. We took the truth very seriously and we were dealing with three versions of the truth, there were two legal cases brought against facebook at the same time, and three versions of events so we decided to tell all of them. We left nothing to chance and didn’t use any source that we didn’t know was the truth or make it clear in the film when a fact might be in dispute.

What kind of feedback did you get from the real people portrayed in this film and did you study any footage of the people as part of your preparation for mannerisms and body language?

(Jesse Eisenberg) It’s just been reported that last week Mark Zuckerberg rented out a movie theatre and took all of his employees to see the film, and that included my cousin who is an employee of facebook and he sent me a message saying that Mark really liked the parts of the movie that he thinks we got right, so I guess that’s the best reaction we could hope for.



The Social Network Film Page | Jesse Eisenberg Profile | Andrew Garfield Profile | Justin Timberlake Profile