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|Brief Encounters: The Social Network|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Monday, 11 October 2010 08:40|
Given the sheer brilliance of The Social Network, it was imperative that we interviewed someone about the film, or at least the phenomenon that is Facebook. But with Mark Zuckerberg still ignoring my friend requests, we went for the next best thing: the guy pretending to be Mark Zuckerberg on screen. And his co-stars. And the guy who wrote the whole thing.
Aaron, is it surprising people don't need to know a lot about Facebook to enjoy the movie?
AS I don't know anything about social networking, so the audience not needing to either isn't that surprising. As for it being a Faustian drama, that's one of the many things it is. You can say "what profits man, if he gains the world and loses his soul", with Justin Timberlake as Mephistopheles...
Justin, how did you get involved in playing the part of the Napster inventor?
JT Enough cannot be said about how dazzling the script was. There was a lot there to Sean's character - to all of them - and you just never come across such a well constructed character or story like this. It never happens. The 162 pages went by in 5 minutes, like watching the film. And then you feel you need to watch it all over again! I think all the characters are complex, brilliant people, and I didn't so much as throw my hat in the ring as kick the door down!
Andrew, do you agree that your character of Eduardo is arguably the moral hero of the piece?
AG I agree! He's the hero. The only righteous man! (Laughs) It's completely valid to come away with that viewpoint, it's heart-warming for me that you did, and I believe he behaved well and was correct. But if you asked Jesse or Justin, they'd say the same about their characters. It's a multi-perspective look at the inception of this incredible device. I feel like certain people may think Eduardo had a lack of imagination to keep up with the others. Some might think he's too trusting and naive. But we needed that multi-perspective and it's a real testament to the story. It's not often we get to be torn between characters; there are usually just good guys and bad guys. This asks us to use our brains, which can't be a bad thing.
How hard was it preparing to play Mark Zuckerberg, who we know so much and yet so little about?
JE Mark is both publicly enigmatic and arguably the most accessible person in the world, so he's a very interesting character. The more you find out about him, the more mysterious he may become. But Aaron Sorkin is fully credited with creating this character based on a real person - I found out what I could about the real person to help with my preparation and research, but I'm really just playing Aaron's version of Mark.
Do you use Facebook at all? Perhaps under an alias?
JT I don't use an alias to go on Facebook. If I did, I think I'd feel like I was missing out on something going on outside! I think it's irresponsible to answer the question, but I assume it affords you the opportunity to connect with as many people as possible. I just stated the obvious about Facebook! It might be comparable to constantly being on a first date. It affords the chance to always present the best version of yourself.
How challenging were the legal issues when dealing with such a disputed subject?
AS When you're doing non-fiction about people who are still alive, young people, a Hollywood movie is like a loud cannon shot. For most, this will be their only impression of these events. So you have two things in your hands: history and someone's life. First there's a legal obligation and the script is vetted by countless lawyers. I'm simply not allowed to say something that is untrue and defamatory. Even greater is the moral obligation not to mess around with someone's life. Both David and I took the truth as seriously as can be. Rather than pick one of the three conflicting versions, I liked that we used all three versions - apologies to Kurosawa! There's a lot of available research out there, such as Mark's blog post which we hear at the beginning of the film. The girl's name was changed there, it's not Erica Albright, and are there are another two names changed.
So did the threat of legal action make the studio bosses sweat even more?
AS I can’t speak to how much they ordinarily sweat! But I can tell you that there was nothing left to chance. If there was the slightest doubt, I couldn’t say it. I had to supply the studio with an annotated script saying where I got any information. Every time a fact was in dispute, I had to make that clear to the audience.
Have any of you encountered your real-life counterparts? What do they think of the film?
JE Well last Friday, Mark Zuckerberg rented a movie theatre for himself and all his employees to watch the movie. My cousin, who is actually an employee of facebook, was there. And he sent me a message saying that Mark really liked the parts of the movie that he thought we got right. Which was probably the nicest reaction that I could have hoped for.
Can you explain how this movie has done so well?
AS We don't know! But we couldn't be more thrilled. I don't do the business bits - they break down figures into something a fifth grader can understand. It's actually broken even in every demographic. Sony have done well to make a film without any of the bells and whistles that we're used to seeing from Hollywood. The only bit of special effects, which you're not meant to notice, is the fact that Armie Hammer plays two people. There are a million ways to go wrong with this film. If you can spot half of them, you're a genius. But David Fincher didn't step in any of the holes. And he's the one who made it brilliant. He won the bull fight with cliché and he made a very special film.
The Social Network is released on Friday 15th October. Check out the trailer over here.