Jesse Eisenberg Interview: 'Holy Rollers' And Keeping It Real After 'The Social Network'

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JESSE EISENBERG
Jesse Eisenberg stars in Holy Rollers, another role calling for preternatural intensity from the passionate actor | Crabtree Films

A character of worrying but charming intensity, incredibly focused on what they're doing, blind to the concerns of people around him... that'll be a role for Jesse Eisenberg, then.

The 28-year-old actor didn't so much play Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as channel his inner DNA to Oscar-nominated effect in The Social Network. Now, in Holy Rollers, he plays a youth from an Orthodox Jewish community, lured into becoming an Ecstasy dealer. So is Eisenberg ever planning to act... normal?

"I'm definitely attracted to characters who have that type of intensity - specific to what it is they're doing, and also a real passion about something," he explains hesitantly, evidently a young man far happier communicating with strangers through the big screen.

Nevertheless, his sheer passion for acting propels him to ruminate further. "When you're playing a role you want to latch on to something, an emotion, an ambition, it just makes the experience of performing that much more... rich."

"This film gave me the chance to learn about living in this type of community, where this kind of monolithic group became something very real - a very eye-opening and special experience. The film was developed over three years, while I was acting in other things."

Ah yes, including the small matter of a film charting the Harvard inception of Facebook, and the resultant lawsuits and broken friendships. The Social Network took Eisenberg's career on a whole new recognition trajectory at a very early stage in his career - is that a challenge?

"No, there's no way to kind of create a specific trajectory as an actor, because you’re being hired," he says frankly. "A lot of why that character was so good had to do with more than just me. I actually feel that I've been as good or better in other roles that people haven't seen, or haven't had the exposure, or in a play or something. I don't attribute an actor's great success to their own individual performance, when it's something as collaborative as a movie."

But the attention it has brought Eisenberg the young man is an entirely different proposition.

"I don’t want to complain, because there are amazing perks, but... I'm a writer as well, and I like to go on the subway and just eavesdrop on people's conversations. I used to sit outside a classroom of girls and when they would come out on their break, I used to write down everything they said, and that's more difficult for me now. People take pictures on their ipods, I can't blend in as easily, and that's a real annoyance."

He sounds like an amazingly normal, reflective young bloke - so how does he keep things that way?

"Nothing's changed. I live in the same apartment, with the same life - all pretty typical for an actor. Lots of attention comes your way, then the next year it might not. So you have to recognise the perks for what they are, which are by-products, and instead concentrate on the process, which is the reward itself."

Holy Rollers is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download

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