Tag Archives: Jesse Eisenberg

JESSE EISENBERG TALKS ROLE THAT HELPED HIM OVERCOME STAGE FRIGHT

If you’ve caught the trailers for “Now You See Me,” Summit Entertainment’s May 31 release caper-thriller starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine and Isla Fisher, you’ve gotten a taste of the thrillingly in-control magician Eisenberg portrays. Surprisingly, the hot 29-year-old star tells us that he hoped to overcome a case of stage fright by playing such a cool character.

“What happened for me was that I was doing a play that I’d written in downtown New York and I was having a lot of stage fright. I was very nervous about the show and about performing on stage every night,” recalls Eisenberg, referring to his The Revisionist with Vanessa Redgrave earlier this year. “And then I read this script and the character they wanted me to play was the most confident performer in the world. So I thought that was exactly what I needed to do to get over my fear of performing. I thought this was such a fun character.”

The Oscar-nominated (“The Social Network”) actor says that when he spoke to director Louis Leterrier about the feature, “He told me his vision for the acting and I thought, ‘Hm, he’s right on.’ He wanted to take it seriously. So even though there is a very complicated plot in the movie, all the acting was treated very realistically. It was kind of a perfect opportunity to do something like this.”

And sure enough, he learned to love performing onstage as his character. “When you force yourself to love doing it, you find that you do,” he says.

Seriously? You can force yourself to love doing something?

“Well, as an actor, I should think so. Once I commit to enjoying something, I typically enjoy it,” answers Eisenberg. “You know, because you try to.” He pauses, thinks, says, “mm” — a typical Eisenberg conversational pattern that lets one know he’s not just fluffing off his answer, then he resumes. “You make a decision to enjoy it and then you find little things about it that are enjoyable. You find ways to enjoy it, like changing your interactions with the audience or with the other performers to keep it fresh each time.”

And things obviously worked out well for The Revisionist — Eisenberg reveals that they’ll be doing the play again next year for “a wider audience,” his low-key way of saying his acclaimed play is on track for a Broadway run.

Eisenberg found mastering sleight of hand to be the most difficult part of the “Now You See Me” job, as did the other actors called upon to do professional-level magic tricks for the film in which they play a band of young prestidigitators who rob from the rich and give to their adoring audiences. “My character has to be perfectly proficient. He’s been practicing this for 20 years, eight hours a day. It was very difficult to do in the short amount of time we had.”

He says he never worried about any cheesiness creeping into their magician-filled story, as some others have talked about. “Not really — mm — because I don’t think I can do that. Not because I’m so great. It’s just I don’t know how to,” he says, of being cheesy. “I knew they planned to hire all these great actors who come from films. I guess I was the first one to sign on and the director told me who he would like to be in each of these roles and I was so excited by the prospect of each of these people doing it. And then, they did. It turned into a really wonderful ensemble.”

It also gave him the chance to reunite with his old “Zombieland” chum, Harrelson, who plays a rather scary hypnotist. “That was ideal,” Eisenberg says. “We have such a great working realtionship. It was kind of nice to explore a different dynamic in this film — more of a competitive dynamic than ‘Zombieland.’ We have such a great rapport, I hope we do more different things together.”

Eisenberg and some of his cast mates will be going city to city this week as they beat the promotional drums for “Now You See Me.” Ahead, he has a lineup of films including “The Double,” in which he plays a man who goes insane when he discovers his doppelganger — and the thriller “Night Moves.”

Asked whether he’s keeping up on his sleight of hand arts, Eisenberg says no. “I would like to; the problem is that after the movie ended I did another movie in England and had to immerse myself in that movie which was very different, so I kind of lost the skills I had been practicing for a few months. That’s the problem with the nature of the work I do.”

But for all that intense work on and off set, Eisenberg says his energy’s good. “I still have my knees,” he dead pans. “I’m trying to work as far as they’ll take me.”

Christopher Nolan Exudes Good Cheer at Nominees’ Luncheon

Christopher Nolan

Pundits may be piqued, and the blogosphere may be filled with fury over Christopher Nolan’s omission from the Best Director Oscar race, but the “Inception” filmmaker himself was the very picture of graciousness and good cheer at this week’s Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon.

The movie star handsome British filmmaker – a double nominee for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay — skipped the press room, no doubt well aware of the “snub”-related questions that would come his way.  We happened to be seated at the same table as Nolan, where he appeared to enjoy looking over the nominee certificates he picked up after participating in this year’s class photo, and rather tickled about it as he got out his new Nominee sweatshirt and gave it a little pat.  Nolan also laughed during the presentation of acceptance speech do’s and don’ts by producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer, including a video starring Tom Hanks, in which Tom reminded the crowd that those great spontaneous moments take preparation.

DreamWorks’ “How to Tame Your Dragon” Best Animated Feature nominee Chris Sanders, meanwhile, talked about his currently-in-the-works project, “The Crudes.”  Due in March 2012, it has to do with cavemen on the verge of that very first step toward civilization.  It sounds as if the characters have already taken on lives of their own, leading the filmmakers in entirely unexpected directions, even into those existential questions as to why we should care about what we do in life.  Yep, that’s not what one would expect from something called “The Crudes.”

Jesse Eisenberg

It’s no wonder the luncheon continues to be such a popular attraction on the awards season calendar, with all the stars at their relaxed, affable best.   Little moments of their humanity emerge one after another — like Best Actor nominee Jesse Eisenberg getting up from his seat to shake hands with a waiter, look him in the eye and say thanks.  Or fellow Best Actor candidate Jeff Bridges happily acceding to the request to let Best Actress nominee Annette Bening sit on his lap for the Class Picture.  When she brightly hurried over and sat down, laughter broke out and it was a great moment.

Annette Bening

Whatever the outcome when the 83rd Annual Academy Awards are presented on February 27th, it’s clear that Bening is a popular lady with her fellow nominees and industry members.  She drew noticeably enthusiastic applause when her name was called out.

Speaking of noticeable, how could “Black Swan” Best Actress nominee Natalie Portman glide around like it was nothing in those impossibly high red heels while balancing her very pronounced-by-now baby bump?

In the press room, “Biutiful” Best Actor nominee Javier Bardem answered a question in Spanish, then jovially assured English speakers “It wasn’t that interesting.  You didn’t miss anything.”  He talked about how this nomination, his third, was particularly special to him because of the drama, in which he plays a dying criminal trying to reconcile his world, being in Spanish –a breakthrough.  Pressed to say how he felt in Spanish, the native of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, replied, “I feel the same way.”  Ba-dum-pum.

Ed Helms NBC photo

ON THE PERSONAL SIDE:  Ed Helms, the 37-year-old star of “The Office” and “The Hangover” got into some startling territory when Entertainment Weekly asked him things about himself that would surprise people.  First off:  He’s had open-heart surgery.  “I had a congenital heart condition that became an issue as I hit my growth spurt,” he explains, in the issue that hits stands tomorrow (2/11).  “My operation was during spring break of my eighth-grade year.  I do have a scar, and you can see it in the movie—it’s a little zipper, about eight inches, that’s gotten lost in the fur.  I have a natural sweater that disguises it.”  The movie to which he refers is his Friday (2/12)-opening “Cedar Rapids” comedy, in which Ed plays a naive insurance agent who goes wild at an out-of-town convention.

Secondly — are you ready? — he listens to Yanni.   “I went through a phase when I was obsessed with him….Somewhere in me there is a lonely, middle-aged housewife with a deep abiding crush on him.”

And third, Ed plays the banjo.  In fact, he has banjo-bonded with picker extraordinaire Steve Martin.  “We’ve become friends through playing the banjo. Obviously we’re both comedy people, but it is really neat to share a specific passion. I produce a bluegrass festival, the L.A. Bluegrass Situation.  Last year’s was our first, and Steve was gracious enough to jump on board.  We’ve had some great musical times together.”