- INTERVIEWER: What's it like sharing the stage with Jesse Eisenberg, your co-star in the movie Holy Rollers?
- JUSTIN BARTHA: This play actually predated that movie. Jesse and I have been friends for almost 10 years. We first did a reading of this about five years ago at my friend’s apartment, and over the years we’ve worked on it together. I think he had my voice in mind when writing Vinny. We did a couple more readings, one for Rattlestick, which is one of our favorite theaters, and kept going from there.
- INTERVIEWER: You and Jesse play roommates. Did your real-life friendship strengthen the relationship of your characters?
- JUSTIN BARTHA: It was absolutely a huge benefit knowing each other very well. Over the years we would go over the play and think of how far we could push each character.
- INTERVIEWER: The show has a very specific fast-paced, almost neurotic, rhythm to its dialogue, similar to a lot of Jesse’s film characters. Is it hard to get that style down?
- JUSTIN BARTHA: You just have to get into the right energy. I don’t think it’s that hard because the writing is so strong. It’s rare for a young playwright, someone who’s mounting his first play, to have such strong dialogue, and the relationships are so fully fleshed out that once you get on stage it's pretty easy.
- INTERVIEWER: Before Asuncion, you starred in Zach Braff’s All New People. What do you enjoy about working with playwrights who also have acting backgrounds?
- JUSTIN BARTHA: I think there’s a sensitivity to actors and performance that’s inherit to theater in the first place. What’s amazing about Jesse’s play is not only is the writing so strong, but every line of dialogue is fantastically woven and character-based. Even with all the great lines in the show, the biggest laughs are usually from a character’s reaction to the lines. It’s very much based in character and the relationship between the actors and not just the dialogue.
STUNNING in “The Social Network,” Jesse Eisenberg, who wrote and stars in the Cherry Lane’s new excellently received production “Asuncion,” did it again. Backstage, opening night, he remained humble. I said the audience loved him. He answered simply: “Well, they were all invited free.” Nervous? “Some things worked right, some didn’t. Each performance is a little different but, no, I wasn’t nervous. And I won’t know about reviews because I never read anything written about me.
“I hope to stay in this until the end of the year, but we have to see how things work out.” And opening-night party plans? “None. Just going with the cast and my friends for a drink in the neighborhood.”” —Cindy Adams, Stealing the Big Screen, NY Post, 31 Oct. (x)
Eisenberg shows a flair for dialogue and structure, plus a spiky comic perspective and a willingness to get ugly, all of which would make it a good thing if he continues to explore playwriting.” —“‘Asuncion’: Theater Review,” The Hollywood Reporter
- interviewer: Your sister Hallie worked with you in the film, did you find you were more open with each other about your performances?
- Jesse: A bit. I was happy that she did the movie because she was so wonderful and I knew she would be. It did make it a bit uncomfortable; she asked me in between one of the scenes “Why did you keep making that face?” I said “Which face?” She said “This face” and pulled a face. I didn’t realise I was making that face and that’s not really something you want to hear as an actor. When you’re acting you want to work from the inside out. So a reasonable director would say “What are you feeling in this moment?” or “Try exploring this part of it”. Whereas when you’re working with a family member, tact goes out the window.
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.”” —Huffington Post interview of Jesse Eisenberg,
‘Holy Rollers’ and Keeping it Real After The Social Network, Caroline Frost, 25 Oct (x)
A major component of the winning formula [of “Asuncion”] is the chemistry between Eisenberg and Bartha…the two previously had starred together in the 2010 film “Holly Rollers.”
“I really like acting with him,” Eisenberg said. “He’s a unique actor as he’s able to play so many – and seemingly in conflict – things at once. He can be scary and smart and charming all at the same time. I think he complements what I can do well, so I really like that combination.”
Eisenberg wrote Bartha’s role with the actor in mind.” —
Then, as he put on his coat and slipped his hood over his amazing hair, a woman who I assume knows him asked: how does it feel to be asked the same questions over and over again? “Good, because I always know the answers.” —
- IMDB cites that you’re known for your curly hair and fast-talking voice, what would you prefer it to say?
- JE: I don’t really like to read or hear that kind of thing because it makes me feel commodified in a way that’s not interesting to me. I don’t know…I don’t really care what people write on the internet. It all seems mean-spirited and reductive.
- Interviewer: Are you happy with the reaction to your Broadway show, Asuncion?
- Jesse: We’ve been playing for a week and the reaction’s been great, so we’re all really happy.
- Interviewer: Were you concerned about casting yourself?
- Jesse: No, I know that I’ll always be on time, and know all my lines!
- INTERVIEWER: Do you find when you’re doing so many [interviews], you can end up saying something you later disagree with?
- JESSE: Yeah, that’s the nature of talking too much, only agreeing with half of what you said! And that’s partly why I don’t read anything, even if you say something amazing you can be misquoted and they put an explanation point instead of a period and it makes you sound like you’re an enthusiastic idiot, so I try to think for a second before I speak and then never look at it again.
- As a student in theater and acting, a lot of the times my teacher tells me--I love to act, but I love to write also and they tell me that I should do both because I like to act in my pieces as well. So I want to know how you manage--I don't listen...it works, but I want to know how you manage and how you deal with that.
- JESSE: It's maybe a good idea to sometimes refrain from acting in your pieces so you see as a writer how they more purely play out. I've done that before and sometimes it's interesting, sometimes it's really frustrating because you feel a lack of control over it. It's probably good to do both, but if they tell you you shouldn't do both ever that's insane...but they're doing that for you.
- I'm Filipino and I was a little concerned about how the play was going to go--I told Camille earlier--I was curious, do you guys think of how you portrayed Filipinos?
- JESSE: Well the goal was not to portray Filipinos in mass, but the goal is to portray this woman who comes into the house with the best of intentions under weird circumstances, is treated strangely by these two boys, and tries to maintain a good relationship. And then is torn asunder when she realizes that one of them is spending time evaluating her in this crass way. That's how I think of the role; I'm not thinking of it in terms of commentary of the Filipino culture. I can't speak to that experience, I can only speak to the experience of this girl I knew--and then while writing it other girls that I knew that I sought out--and that's how I think of the character.
- I was just kind of curious about how casting went. I know that you knew Justin Bartha before this; did you, like, have him specifically in mind while you wrote this or did you cast him afterwards?
- JESSE: Yeah, like, kind of early into the script I realized that I was writing it for him, maybe even unconsciously. He's such a unique actor to me. Somebody that can--you know, like what he does in this is so charming and funny but also he maintains something kind of scary underneath it and that's so important for the role because you want to feel like there's something always hovering over me, that's threatening. Then towards the end you start to realize what it is: that he's possibly more insecure and vulnerable about our relationship than maybe even I am. Even though I'm the one who seems sort of explicitly insecure about the relationship. And he's able to balance these very seemingly in conflict attributes in such a wonderful way, and so funny all the time.