The Social Network Director Made Andrew Garfield Hurl Real-Life Insults at Jesse Eisenberg
David Fincher’s The Social Network was released ten years ago this month. The film quickly went on to establish itself as one of the greatest films in Fincher’s illustrious oeuvre, with Quentin Tarantino once calling The Social Network ‘hands down’ the best film of the 2010s. That kind of excellence did not come easily. In an Empire interview, it was revealed that one of the film’s more fraught moments was given a leg up with some real-life insults.
“[Garfield] leaves to change into his own, casual clothes, before returning to crouch behind the camera as it hovers close to Eisenberg. Just before the camera rolls, he leans toward the Zombieland star and hisses, ‘You’re a fucking dick and you betrayed your best fucking friend. Live with that.’ It’s shocking to hear. It certainly helps with the take. And it is evidence both of Garfield’s professional generosity and Fincher’s nous – for the abuse was at the director’s instruction, to help Eisenberg get in the right headspace for the scene.”
The Social Network is an unofficial take on the rise of Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg. The film portrays Zuckerberg as an unrepentant autocrat who uses his friends and acquaintances to further his business. Andrew Garfield played the role of Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of the social media giant alongside Zuckerberg until the latter ousted him from the company.
The relationship between Saverin and Zuckerberg is one of the most tumultuous plot points in the entire movie. According to Andrew Garfield, the things David Fincher asked him to do for the role were not easy by any means, but necessary. “[Fincher] has impeccable taste,” the actor explained. “And he’ll only use the things that work. He’s brutal – in a very, very positive way.”
Fincher has long had a reputation for making his actors do retakes after retakes, upto to hundreds of times, until they are exhausted and thus, in Fincher’s eyes, more naturalistic in their dialogue delivery. For The Social Network, the actors had to contend with not only Fincher’s demanding nature but the heavy-duty script, written by Hollywood legend Aaron Sorkin. According to Fincher, getting the right kind of performance from the actors from such a complicated script was no easy task.
“Everybody has been really great. We’ve only had a couple of people who didn’t want to ‘play. It’s exhausting, it’s hard, you know? Sorkin-ese is not for the faint of heart, ’cause you have to drill it and drill it and drill it. You don’t frame words – you just deliver the paragraph. It’s an interesting thing to see 20-year-old faces spouting this stuff. But the big trick of it is to make sure it doesn’t end up being somebody aping, you know, [famous 1920s wit] Dorothy Parker.”
All that hard work on the part of the movie’s cast and crew ultimately paid off. The Social Network was nominated for eight Oscars that year, winning three. Sorkin has since expressed a desire to make a sequel to the movie covering the later days of Facebook, although the project has not officially been announced yet. Empire Online was the first to bring this information.