A little bit difficult, a little bit intense: the star of The Social Network has often seemed more comfortable with a film script than with messy human emotions – including his own. But that’s changed…
Jesse Eisenberg has a reputation for not suffering fools, for witheringly knocking down any stupid questions that are put to him. In the 12 years since his breakout role as a callow, Kafka-referencing teen in Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale, he has made his name with characters who are – or at least believe they are – the smartest person in the room: the snarky theme-park attendant in Adventureland; the college kid bon-moting his way through the apocalypse in Zombieland; and, of course, his sociopathically still performance as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, for which he received an Oscar nomination for best actor.
In person, speaking at the Toronto international film festival, the 34-year-old is disarmingly alert – quick to answer a question with a question – but never difficult or obtuse. There is a fine seam of comic self-doubt running through his patter and today he is mostly just buzzing with ideas. He is fascinated and appalled by the high-speed, high-frequency trading depicted in his upcoming film The Hummingbird Project – where computer algorithms buy and sell stocks in the blink of an eye – but can relate to people such as his character Vincent, “so caught up in the pursuit that they lose any sight of any kind of ethical considerations”.
You can’t control how an audience perceives you … As long as I get to do things I like, I don’t really care
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