By the age of 29, actor has racked up an already impressive career. From The Social Network, Adventureland, Zombieland, Solitary Man, The Squid and the Whale, to his breakout film, the terrific Roger Dodger, he's made films which any actor would be kill to have in their filmography. They're all distinct films, and his latest movie, Now You See Me, continues that diversity.
For a summer movie, it's fairly unique. The idea of making magicians badass aside, director 's popcorn crime caper isn't a typical summer movie. This isn't a set piece-driven movie, but one that relies on charisma, both in front of and behind the camera.
Eisenberg is a major part of the film's vibe, and we discussed his work in the film with Mr. Eisenberg along with not wanting to watch himself and 's The Double:
Have you seen the film? Do you watch your own work?
No, I never watch it. I don't like looking at myself. I like looking at the other actors, but I had opportunities to do that on the set. I think it's strange.
Mentioning the other actors, it's a movie that really lives or dies based on its cast. For a summer movie, it's more about charisma than set pieces. When you read the script, was that the movie you envisioned?
Well, when I read something, I never know all those details, like, when it comes out. That doesn't really change anything for me. I'm just hired to play a role. You know, when they do the marketing of it, that's either the way they feature the cast or, you know, you never see a picture of anyone in it. It's hard for me to project into the future how it's going to be seen. In retrospect, I do think, "Oh, this is a big movie and they're trying to appeal to a lot of people." At the time I read it, I didn't know anything about that.
I'll tell you, a couple of years ago I read this script, Holy Rollers, about this Jewish guy who becomes a drug dealer. I thought, "Oh my God, this is going to be, like, a 100 million dollar movie!" I thought it was going to be this huge thing, because it was such an interesting story. Then we made for it a million dollars that came out in a couple of cities. It was a good movie, but a quiet one. I don't have a sense for that kind of thing.
How do you take that? Is it important, as a performer, how much your work is seen?
No, because I don't watch the movies and I'm not aware of the box-office. I don't really think about that thing. For me, the only really important thing is the experience of making a movie. I write and perform plays in New York, and I get concerned with that because I write them and people are producing my work. I want to make sure those people are getting their money back. With a movie I'm hired to do, it's less of my business.
So when it comes to the success or failure of a movie, it's based on your experience?
Exclusively based on my experience. I've had experiences where I've felt great about what I did on the movie, but no one liked it or saw it. I've had the worse, which is more disconcerting, where I felt worse and everyone liked it. The reaction is never consistent with my feeling.
Walking onto this set, is there a sense of safety, having actors like Isla Fischer, Woody Harrelson, and Dave Franco to play off of?
I guess I don't really think about that, either. Like, that is kind of worrying about how it's going to be perceived. I just think about what I'm doing with my role. If I can do that role as good as I can and prepare as much as I can, I'll be successful. I don't really think if it's resting on my shoulders, but I was fortunate enough to be with some great actors on this one. That just makes my experience better, not make me feel safe in any way.
How about director Louis Leterrier? I've spoken to him a few times and he seems to make even the most mundane acts sound fun.
Yeah, that's a good point. Every time we were doing something we were made to feel...he made every scene feel exciting, even just simple scenes of characters talking quietly in a room. The way he would shoot it or describe it would always make it sound like the most exciting part of the movie. There was one scene of where I stepped on a cell phone. It's a very quick scene, but it turned into a long, dramatic scene where he let us improvised and use this incredible set they built. We could actually destroy the set while we worked on it. He had a creative approach to that scene. When I stepped on the cellphone, they put the camera underneath the floorboards, and it was just such an interesting way to see a traditional scene filmed so uniquely.
When you say you determine the success of a movie based on your experience, does that mean it has to be "fun"? Or can it be the other way around?
Oh, I almost never have fun working on a movie. By a successful working environment, I mean accomplishing a little bit of what I wanted to accomplish.
One of the movies I'm most excited for this year is Richard Ayoade's The Double. Submarine is one of my favorite movies.
How does The Double compare?
It's this dystopian world. Richard Ayoade, who's the director, created this entire world. Every set was built. Submarine was set in this hard to pin down time, while this felt like that to an extreme. It takes place in this weird Dostoevsky world. It was by far the most unique and interesting experience I've ever had. Richard is the most fascinating director I've ever worked with before. I think the movie will be good, but, unfortunately, I won't see it. I don't like seeing myself, and that's two of me, because I play two characters in it. That would be doubly terrifying to watch.
Now You See Me opens in theaters on May 31st.