Interview: Jesse Eisenberg

The star of Café Society talks about playing the bad guy.
Jesse Eisenberg

Considering the characters you’ve played in The Social Network, Now You See Me and Batman v Superman, do you enjoy playing douchebags?
“I play bad guys in movies if possible because I feel more sympathy for the guy who’s tortured than the guy who is confident.”

Don’t take this the wrong way, but are you ever happy?
“Never, never, never. In fact, the opposite at all times: panicked at all times. Listen, if I was happy I wouldn’t do anything that I’m doing, I’d just sit at home. From a productivity standpoint there’s a great benefit to never feeling satisfied.”

If I suggested you were the quintessential millennial, how would you take that?
“Am I a millennial? I don’t know what it refers to. I think I’m too old. And I’m not on Twitter.”

Do people expect you to be into social media? You did play Mark Zuckerberg…
“No, and I’ll tell you why: the movie only uses technology as a backdrop. I’m terrified of that stuff. I live inside a bubble on purpose.”

Did you not even go on Facebook as research for The Social Network?
“I signed on for, like, 20 seconds one time.”

So you’re a playwright as well as an actor. How did that happen?
“I grew up doing theater, I didn’t grow up watching movies. My family went to the local community theater to watch plays. My mother was a birthday party clown and the choreographer in a Catholic high school, so there was an appreciation of theater when I was younger.”

Would you do more traditional theater – a Shakespeare play or a stint in Les Mis, maybe?
“No, because doing a play takes a lot out of me. I cannot forget about it: my days are consumed with feeling anxious about the show, thinking of every situation that could go wrong. If I was in something like Les Misérables, I’d have to sign on for six months and I’d be a wreck.”


Café Society Director Woody Allen, 96 mins, opens Aug 12.

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