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The Future is now for the talented Jesse Eisenberg

by Ron Gilbert

In September 2005 I first met Jesse when he was co-starring in a production of Orphans written by Lyle Kessler and directed by Ulu Grosbard with Al Pacino in the lead. It wasn’t a well publicized event which was under the auspices of the Actors Studio. As an Actors Studio member I was privileged to see Jesse in the role of the younger of 2 brothers. He had this unique presence as the introverted acrophobic brother and he definitely made an impression on me. The play was supposed to have a preview prior to the Broadway productions which never happened. From that moment on I kept my eye out for Jesse in his career. So from then on I watched him in M.Night Shyamalan’s "The Village", to Wes Craven’s "The Cursed" to Fred Durst’s "The Education of Charlie Banks", to Richard Shepherd’s "The Hunting Party" ,to Greg Mottola’s "Adventureland”, to Ruben Fleischer’s "Zombieland ", to Noah Baumbach’s “The Squid and the Whale”, Brian Koppleman and David Levien’s "Solitary Man" ,to Kevin Asch’s "Holy Rollers" and finally with David Fincher's mega hit," The Social Network". He was an actor seemed to fit into comedies, drama horror and thriller films and he seemed to standout.

After seeing him in the film .”Holy Rollers” in which he played a Hasidic Jew who was smuggling drugs from Amsterdam to the Brooklyn as drug mule in the late 90’s. This film premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and also the Los Angeles Film festival and I had the opportunity to interview Kevin Asch, the director and he told me that his first choice was Jesse.

The next time I met Jesse was at the 5th Rome International Film Festival on November 1, 2010. The buzzword was out on his role as Mark Zuckerberg and now Jesse Eisenberg was the actor to interview and there was a waiting list. My advantage was that I was a foreign journalist at an International festival so the lucky chips were in my hand. The Lancia Cafe was packed with anxious journalists who were going to get the scoop for their entertainment outlets. We all had seen the film at the morning screening in Italian because someone has slipped the dubbed version in by mistake. Anyway the dialogue fit perfectly even though it wasn’t in the original English language. Everyone was jumping in to ask the first question. I really wanted to tell Jesse that I was very impressed with his Italian, He kept on looking at me and that caught the eye of the lady in charge. So in English I asked Jesse how was it to make that transition from the character in the play “Orphans” with Al Pacino and then the Hasidic Jew in”Holy Rollers” and now Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network”. His face lit up and he smiled immediately knowing where he had remembered me and started to answer but he was interrupted by the translation in Italian of my question, And then he blurted out how it was such a delightful experience to be in those projects which maybe were seen by 10 or 20 people and he wanted it known how thankful he was to be part of them. How grateful he was to director David Fincher by casting him in the Social Network. Then the interview reverted to Italian. I stayed a little longer and then gave him this Italian gesture with the words” a dopo” which means “catch you later”,

My thoughts today brought me back to over 40 years when Dustin Hoffmann shot into stardom with “The Graduate”. Back in the day, Jesse could have played the Benjamin role.

But for the moment he has the nomination as best actor at the Oscars and was nominated for a Golden Globe and many other film critic awards and has won a few. It doesn’t get better than that.


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